Monday, January 14, 2013

staying on the wall.

{photo by Danielle Hughson}

I picked my word for the year, and every day it becomes more and more apparent I must have picked the right one. I've been challenged and stretched in the past 14 days in ways I couldn't have predicted back on December 31, and I suppose -- in the end -- it will mean I'm closer to who I want to be at the end of 2013 than I was the year before. 

Last Sunday, our minister encouraged us to identify one thing we need to accomplish in 2013. Not one thing as a congregation or a community, but one thing we each need to accomplish as individuals: a relationship ended or mended, boundaries set, responsibilities met. One thing that would turn our life upside down -- for the better -- in the next 12 months.

I was stumped. I'm a goal setter, and I spend a lot of time thinking about ways I could improve and become a better version of myself. But for the life of me, I couldn't really put my finger on just one thing I need to focus on this year, one thing that would change my very small, very full life. 


Way back in the Old Testament, there's this story about a normal guy named Nehemiah who decided he needed to build a wall around the city of Jerusalem. It was kind of an impossible project, something naysayers and friends told him he'd never be able to accomplish. But the people came together, and with a lot of prayer -- seriously, Nehemiah prays all the time -- the wall was built. And -- here's the crazy part -- the goal was accomplished in a remarkable 52 days. 

The great part about this story is that Nehemiah was average, and for whatever reason, God chose not to interfere in his wall-building, not in the ways the people of the Old Testament were used to Him interfering. There were no earthquakes, no miraculous moments, no overnight bricks put up. Instead, Nehemiah had to recruit friends, family, acquaintances, and neighbors to get the job done.

And you know what? Despite his admirable goal, not everyone was supportive. 

Shocking, isn't it, that when Nehemiah identified his goal, he was met with opposition and ridicule from all sides? (Not.) 

And every time Nehemiah was encouraged to stop building, to stop creating, to take a break for just a moment, he sent down one response: 

I am doing a great work, and I cannot come down. 

In other words, I'm busy. I'm focused. And you cannot distract me. 


I still haven't figured out what my "one thing" for 2013 is. But I'm discovering that Nehemiah's words are true for even the smallest of goals I've set, and perhaps they ring especially true in the seemingly mundane work I do everyday: in my home, on my marriage, at my job. 

Why do I clean my house? Why do I go to bed a little earlier than some? Why do I choose to spend a lot of my extra time with my husband? Why do I focus on a few friendships instead of dozens? Why do I walk every day? Why do I read? Why do I write?

Because I'm trying really hard to do a great work, and I cannot come down. 

It's January 14, which means some of our resolutions have already fallen by the wayside. But if you're looking for reason to stick it out this year, if you're tired of failing and being second-guessed, I hope you know: The work you are trying to accomplish is great, whether it's personal or spiritual, familial or physical. You are doing great things, and you know what? Sometimes, it's okay to say: I cannot come down right now. I'm choosing to stay focused. 

I guess I'm just telling you what I heard last Sunday, the message that encouraged me to stay the course in 2013, that told me the work I'm doing -- whether big or small to the outside -- is great, and it's worthy of my attention. 

It's 2013, and it's time to stay on the wall.


Erin said...

You often have a knack for writing what I need to hear. This is a good reminder for when I am feeling doubtful about the work I am trying to do in the world (whatever that is).

Angela said...

I agree with Erin, you always speak right to my heart. Thank you for being real and challenging us as well as yourself. :)

Lacey said...

Nehamiah's devotion is so inspiring. I want to have that same dedication to the tasks I set my mind on. Thanks for the perspective :)

Sierra said...

I love the idea of choosing a word for the year! I may have to steal this idea. So awesome!
Oh, Just Living the Dream