I choose a word of the year at the start of each year. I begin thinking about the upcoming year months in advance and pray about what the year will hold, how I will be different at the end of it, and what best captures my hopes. I begin to make lists of words and verses and phrases and sort through them carefully to distill exactly what I want. I started this practice several years ago and it truly has been an anchor for me each year. Adventure, Wonder(full), Grit with Grace, Gumption and Defiant Joy… those words and phrases summarize well their respective years.
I have had a period of hustle, grit, defiance, and work these past several years in school, teaching, and working. And I wanted a different kind of word this year, one that connotes restfulness, stillness, and not continually driving forward for better. I have chosen the word enough for 2020. It has many connotations and all are important. I choose it not to say in frustration, “I’ve had enough.” But to declare in truth that “I am enough.” I tend to be a goal-oriented person and hard work, dedication, and tasks come naturally to me. Rest does not. Ironically, I have to work hard to find rest. My inner monologue can be a lie telling me that I need to do more, that I am slacking, failing, and that I’m not enough. This year, I hope to quiet such a voice and declare with scripture that I am enough. That I do not have to work for my salvation because the work is already done, and done perfectly (Hebrews 9:11-14).
As I seek to combat consumerism and the drive to own more, I will remind myself that I have enough. And that I need not worry about the future. As I strive for health and well-being, I will remind myself that I’ve consumed enough. (Matthew 6:25-34). When I think about other degrees or accolades that I should pursue, I will remind myself, that I have done enough. I will “strive to enter that rest” (Hebrews 4:11). I will seek contentment. I will make it my “ambition to live a quiet life” (I Thessalonians 4:11). I love that so many verses that were on my short list for the verse to accompany the Year of Enough juxtapose the need for work and rest. Striving and rest. Ambition and a quiet life. It does not seem as though these should go together, and yet in my experience, they absolutely do. Rest takes effort. Stillness requires focus. Contentment needs practice.
The same is true for the verses I ultimately chose as my passage of the year: Matthew 11:28-30
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (The Message, emphasis mine).
What a beautiful passage. We can all feel stretched, burnt out, and in need of respite. And still after years of practice, I find rest so challenging. The rhythms of grace require much learning. I have spent time forcing rhythms of grace over my years. White-knuckling myself into Sabbath and confusing non-activity with restfulness. I aspire to learn the unforced rhythms of grace and how my “enough-ness” flows most naturally when I understand my place in the world.
I am enough. I can rest in my striving.
God is enough. I can rest in His sovereignty.
Christ sacrificed enough. I can rest in His work.
The Spirit fills enough. I can rest in His guidance.
All are true. All are beautiful. All make everything else possible.