Word of the Year: Opposites

Post by Kathleen Schwab

This year, I wanted my word of the New Year to be Mystery. I hoped to experience the Mystery of God, the things that can't be captured and contained in things like statements of faith, but have to be found and walked in. I also wanted to be open to what God brings into my life, including new people and new directions. Maybe some new artistic skills (lettering! drawing!) would open up new areas of expression for me, and I would find new ways to connect with God through creativity.

So for all of these reasons, I wanted this to be my year of Mystery. Then I started thinking about how I would go about practically making room in my life for Mystery, and I realized that this is not likely to just happen. To have the space and bandwidth for Mystery, I have to be diligent about getting my basic responsibilities in life taken care of. I need to have my classes organized, keep up with grading papers, and manage the housework. If I am falling behindhand all the time, I won't be appreciating the Mystery of God; I will be too focused on the mystery of what to make for dinner, the great question of how every single cup in the house got dirty, and Wait! I don’t have the printouts done! In other words, to have spaces in my life for Mystery to grow, I have to cultivate discipline. I need time when I can let my mind go after God, but to do that, I need a mind that knows I am holding down the fort of everyday life. 

Now, that really got me thinking, because the last thing I was interested in was getting the little mundane jobs of life in order, because I didn't want to focus on the small things - I wanted to delve into the big, important things this year. But once I began to think on a practical level about making that happen, I came to the humbling realization that to experience the big stuff, I need to master the little stuff. I was thinking I would be above all those New Year's resolutions like organizing my closet or cleaning out the filing cabinet, and go right for the ultra-meaningful assignment of fathoming the unfathomable. Except, as I think God pointed out to me, the highest does not stand without the lowest. Developing daily discipline and delving into mystery sound like opposite goals, but the latter needs the former. Without enough discipline to make daily life run smoothly, I won't have a clear mind to hear God’s still, small voice. 

Which brings me to my word of the New Year: Opposites. This year I want to appreciate and walk in Opposites: I want to develop Discipline, and then use the space that creates in my life to see Mystery. I want to recognize both sides of the virtues I hope to build in my life.

When I need Peace, I want to be able to see the Trouble I might have to walk through to get there. When I need Strength, I want to see the Vulnerability and Weakness I have to recognize and honor in myself before I can claim that Strength.

This is my year to see Opposites, a year to walk in wholeness.