For the past few years I have been participating in the activity of choosing my word for the year. I’m not certain I’ve found the essence of the activity. I can’t even tell you what my word last year even was. I know I don’t reflect on it enough past March and then I forget what it even was when the kids go back to school.
I wanted to, however, reveal an activity I did two years ago that was life changing and along the same lines.
In working with my counselor she really helped me focus on who, exactly, I was (my identity). With this information I could then ensure that the life I was (am) leading aligned with the life I wanted. The following exercise was one of the tools we used in my identity work.
My counselor had me describe how I viewed myself 5 years prior, with adjectives from A to Z (so there were 26 words). I repeated this exercise with 26 words, again, describing myself present day. Finally, I did the exercise envisioning myself 5 years into the future. It was interesting how the words were so different from each other in the span of 10 years.
I also found it interesting to take a snapshot of my life in 2011 and then look at those words I picked. The words were so dark but my career was taking off. My inner life was a disaster but my outside life was bright and shiny.
Anyway, the very last part of the exercise was to take a look at the 5 year future words and focus on only three words. For the life of me I can only remember two and one of those words I have chosen as my life word. ENRAPTURED. There are a variety of definitions for this word:
: To be filled with delight
: Give intense joy or pleasure to
ENRAPTURE comes from the word RAPTURE which has synonyms like BLISS and JOY.
Bliss and I go way back. Way, way back. I first encountered the word “bliss” while reading The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell. My beloved aunt prompted me to read that book in college, during a particularly low spiritual point in my life. Joseph Campbell wrote a lot about “following your bliss.” Within the book he said the following:
If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Wherever you are — if you are following your bliss, you are enjoying that refreshment, that life within you, all the time.
If you’re BLISSFUL you are happy and at peace. I can see that book highlighted and dog-eared, front to back with my thoughts. It was one of the first books I devoured and digested much like I would a steak. Words within it were so thought provoking and philosophical. It was as if Campbell knew exactly what I was trying to understand.
What could have made my memories of this book better, more accurate even, is if Campbell suggested that Jesus himself wanted us to find and follow our bliss (our CALLING from God). … seems to me that many of the Christian religion want people to raise up their own “crosses” (problems) and walk only with and under them, as if we should not be allowed to rejoice and be happy in our earthly skin. As if happiness is a sin in and of itself. It all sort of reminds me of this cranky nun that I played in “The Sound of Music.”
Sister Margaretta had it out for Maria. The cranky old woman kept calling Maria names and was agitated by her childlike behavior. She was religious and she certainly didn’t want anyong having TOO much fun… any fun, really.
I don’t think to live in a BLISSFUL or ENRAPTURED state is childish or foolish or against my identity in Christ. What’s foolish is to live life in an angry or joyless state. Joyless is the antonym of enraptured and so is gloomy, low-spirited and mournful. Why live through life like that? I mean, obviously there are seasons but we are not imparted to live a life of misery!
… but what did I think about “enraptured?” Why did I pick that word, two years ago, anyway?
The idea of being “enraptured” was like having my career, my interior life, my outside life, my everything all matching. Even if I ever found a job within the industry of my schooling, that fast-paced lifestyle just wasn’t ever going to be for me. That’s just not me. … and I had tried and tried again to find a job in my industry that aligned with my Christian values and, alas, I kept coming up empty handed.
I wanted a life where it all seemed to click. I wanted a life where the mommy my kids saw was the same woman my friends saw was the same women the people saw at church was the same woman that Jesus saw when I was praying to him. I wanted a life where joy was experienced across all the aspects of my life, not only in one area at a time but across all simultaneously. I wanted a life where I could provide a home where my children were allowed to be themselves and a place where everyone felt relaxed. I wanted a home where I could relax in and a job (whatever that was) I could be satisfied with.
That exercise was (and still is) work in progress since it was a looking ahead to 2021.
Friends, I don’t think it’s wrong to goal set. Many people will tell you that certain ideas are flights of fancy or buzzwords of the secular world go against the teachings of Christ or other God-breathed words of the Bible.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. – Jeremiah 29:11
… I don’t think our future was supposed to be drab and boring.
Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. – 1 Corinthians 12:27
… individually we all have DIFFERENT giftings and talents which we should use to serve him. Those gifts and talents ARE part of our identity in Christ.
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” – Luke 9:23-27
The cross meant DEATH. If you accept suffering in the name of Jesus, and you will if you choose to act like a Christian daily, then you are taking up your cross daily. It doesn’t mean you have to stay in that horrid job, that abusive relationship or accept your depression day in and day out with no help.
Some parting thoughts about your gifts and talents and your identity and why it matters to get this all aligned.
Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. – Romans 12:6-8
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. – Ephesians 2:10
Let every skillful craftsman among you come and make all that the Lord has commanded – Exodus 35:10
Let all that you do be done in love. – 1 Corinthians 16:14