The F Word
Early in December I had a mentor tell me that I needed to pray to God about the one word He would have me focus all of my energy on for 2014. I had never done this before and it sounded like a good idea so I began to consider and even pray a little about it.
I thought about last year. I think without my realizing it, my word for last year was confidence. I think God showed me scripture and enough success that I could begin to step into who I was created to be.
So for this year, I considered other great words, not one of which I can remember right now because I found THE word. It just became stuck in my head. It wouldn’t let go. I’m not sure I liked it, either, to be honest. It’s an F-word.
Oh, that’s great, I thought. Focus on what exactly? My inability to focus? (Hello adult onset ADD). My health? Various aspects of women’s ministry? Should it be leadership? Teaching? Training? What should be my focus? Did I turn off the coffee pot? I giggle right now because I am enjoying the irony. In my quest to focus, I had no focus. This reminds me of a favorite line from a not-great-movie where Jackie Chan tells a young Karate Kid that “Your focus needs more focus.”
Yeah, I resemble that remark.
So I was praying that God would show me what He meant when He said focus. And He totally did. You have got to know that when I connect these God Dots I usually about need to jump out of my skin. In fact, right this very moment, after He has just revealed the meaning to me, I have abandoned personal quiet time to write this all down. Possibly a focus issue….squirrel.
Ok, back to the word. So here’s how it shook out. I have been quietly contemplating this word, slightly annoyed because I don’t know what it means. It’s too vague. But I plug along in life anyway. This morning I was working through the bible study STUCK by Jennie Allen (just about my all-time favorite author. Click here so you can become addicted too. http://www.jennieallen.com). Today is all about being scared. Stick with me, I promise I have a point.
So in an exercise, she asks us to talk about how we really feel about God’s power to care for us, see us and love us. Every single mini-journal entry that I wrote outlined the same basic idea. I KNOW God loves me, cares for me, sees me and wants the best for me. But I also know that He will allow me to fail in order to teach me lessons. Oh, does failure scare me. As I sit here thinking about it, the full weight of that fear is coming on like a hurricane. What does failure look like to me? Well, there’s obvious failure. I failed to meet a deadline or remember a friends birthday. But then there is the deep fear, the one that is more paralyzing. Failure for me is not being perfect.
I am a horribly, overwhelmingly, fear-driven perfectionist. About my family, my home, my job, my friends, even my car has to be neat and tidy all the time. And my inability to be perfect (which frustrates me) leads to crabbiness, anxiety, knots in my back, and is probably the root cause of my celiac disease (gluten-free people!). Pursuant to the name of the study I am doing, I feel STUCK. There is no way out of this spin cycle. I see my problem but feel completely helpless to tackle it. Especially because I fear that I won’t do it perfectly. Vicious.Circle.
Jennie asked based on Matthew 6:25-34 for us to define how God tells us to move forward without fear as it relates to our lives. The line in scripture is “Seek first the kingdom of God.”
Here is what I wrote: “For me that looks like daily quiet time, personal study, prayer and my job. But it’s also connecting the God Dots which are somewhat easy—until they aren’t. Sometimes you have to look harder and deeper. I think if I stay focused on God and His goodness, the other issues will resolve or at least get better.”
Did you see it? If I stay focused on God…
(Insert jumping and squealing here.) He answered my question! I am so stinking excited. Right here on January 1, 2014, God answered my question. What am I to focus on? Him.
Part of me wants to have a V-8 moment and knock myself in the head. Duh! Another part of me wants to sing and dance and high-five someone. And part of me is tempted to nurture my fear here. Oh, but the power of what God just did for me is so big and strong in this moment that I’m just going to go ahead and mentally kick that old fear in the face.
I know this won’t be easy. This adult ADD is real, people. My focus for sure needs more focus. But I will rely on one of my most favorite verses of all time this year. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10. “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest in me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
He says it right there. The way to perfect is to let God fill in your weaknesses. Now let’s be clear, I am not willingly holding on to my weakness. If I could shove them at God and say, “Eww, take them. You can have them. I won’t even miss them.” I would. But I already know that’s not how it works. The real struggle is about to begin. I will wrestle with these ideas and this sin (let’s call it what it is) for a long time. Maybe past 2014. Who knows? But my plan is to stay FOCUSED on Him.
Now, how do I do that?
How do you stay focused on Him? Please share! I need all the help I can get!
Blessings for a beautiful, focused 2014 to each of you!