A New Year, A New Word: Listen

Listen2015Well, here we are on the cusp of another new year! 2014 was quite a doozie.  It was a year full of amazing blessings and difficult challenges…there were super high highs and incredibly low lows, and everything in between.  It was a hard year, a good year…a crazy, incredible, trying, difficult, wonderful year.

I have no idea what 2015 will hold, but I have a feeling it will have its own share of ups and downs.  There will be days that are full of joy and laughter, and days of sadness and struggles.  Good days, bad days, boring days, busy days…this year will be full of all kinds of days.  But through these next 365 days, whatever may come and no matter how the path twists and turns, there is one thing I know: God is good.  And I know that He loves me, and I know that He is working everything, all the days, together for the very best good.  The days may not unfold the way I think they should or the way I want them to or the way I expect them to (do they ever, really?), but God is still the God of all my days…and through all these days, I will hold on to Him because He holds all my days - He holds everything - together.

And for this next year, as I lean into Jesus and as I trust Him with all my days, I am going to focus on one word….just one word, all year.  This is the second year I’ve thrown away the long list of resolutions and instead just focused on one word.  A year ago I chose the word “Peace”...and even though I’m nowhere near an expert on the subject, by focusing on peace and intentionally seeking peace…when I think about all that I learned and all that God showed me...it changed me.

This year I am choosing a new word…one that I think will challenge me and stretch me and possibly even break me in some ways, but one that I think is so important for me right now where I am:

Listen.

It’s a word that just keeps coming up…in things I read, in things I hear, in my quiet times, in my prayers, in my life.

Listen.

I even wrote a little about it back in August…and ever since then I just keep circling back to it.

Listen.

Listen_Verse_Isaiah55_3_Ears Wide Open

Listen Courage quote

Listen Quote_Ann&;Amena(This quote is from an amazing spoken word poem [found here] by Ann Voskamp and Amena Brown...listen to it if you haven't...it's so so good...)

1 Kings 3:9

I want to listen.

I want to listen to others. Listen to my husband. Listen to my kids. Listen to my family. Listen to my friends. Listen to my neighbors. Listen to those who are not like me. Listen to those who are hurting. Listen to those who are outcast. Listen to the lonely, the orphaned, the widows. Listen to their stories. Listen to their hearts.

I want to listen to my life. Slow down and listen to the rhythm of my days. Listen to the beat of my life. Listen in light of God’s Word and see my life in a new way, through a new lens, and evaluate where I am and where I need to be.

And more than anything, I want to listen to God. Listen to His voice, above everything else. Establish and continue holy habits that will keep me ever-aware of His presence and leaning in close to hear Him speak to my soul.

In Matthew 13:3-9 Jesus gives the parable of the seed and the sower.  He begins with the word "Listen!"...and then at the end, He says, “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”

I want ears to hear…I want to listen, to understand.

I’ve been reading this book by Mark Buchanan called Spiritual Rhythm (I’ve actually been reading it slowly for months now…I read it in small bits, digesting it slowly...it is so so good).

But he wrote about this whole listening thing, and I love what he says here: “Ears to hear doesn’t mean, always, a mind to grasp.  It means you listen.  You lean in.  You wait, you pester, you dig.  You hang on to God and wrestle him all night if you must, and refuse to let go until he blesses you.” – Mark Buchanan, Spiritual Rhythm

That’s what I want to do this year…listen, lean in, wait, pester, dig, wrestle, and refuse to let go.  I want to listen with my ears wide open…and with my heart wide open.  I want to listen, not just so that I can respond better, but so that I can SEE better and so that I can LOVE better.

This year, I want to listen.  Really really listen.

Even if I don’t understand what I’m hearing, even if it’s difficult and hard and I have to wrestle with it for a while…I’m going into this year with ears wide open…this year, I’m going to listen.