We’re barely into the new year and I already feel a few steps behind. This is partly due to traveling over the holidays and it’s partly due to the elusive rhythm of life that I keep chasing, but never seem to catch.
For some time now, I have felt slightly off kilter. This isn’t necessarily bad. It has caused me to fall on my knees and to admit my inadequacies. But it’s not great either. In many ways, I feel like life is happening to me rather than the intentional living that I desire.
When I first started choosing “One Word” to focus on for the year, “intention” was the word I settled on. Each year since, different words have surfaced and I knew it was where my focus should be. Brave. Dignity. Submission. Light. Some words settled easily on my heart while others have been challenging, but each time, I knew that it was the right word for the right year.
As 2018 ended, I was trying to wrap my head around finishing school so vacation could begin, preparing for Christmas and planning for six people to travel for nine days with sixteen hours of a road trip before reaching our destination. Pondering goals and a focus for 2019 was beyond my reach. I had the thought that perhaps this year, I would not choose a word. But God had other plans for me…
As we crossed the Mississippi River, I turned around to look at my kids and this is what I saw- it’s a just-for-fun tradition to hold our breath when we cross rivers and my teenagers were doing it without any prompts from me. In that moment, I was challenged to keep being faithful to living intentionally, to not give up on the habits that have been meaningful to me in the past.
During my devotional time over our vacation, a word began to surface (as it always seems to do!) and it surprised me, but I knew it was the right one.
It first jumped out to me when I read Ephesians 2:3- “We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also.” (CSB) It challenged me to think about that the things that I am naturally inclined to do. I began to consider this question- what is my default? And as my husband would say, “How does my heart roll?”
plural noun: inclinations
a person’s natural tendency or urge to act or feel in a particular way; a disposition or propensity.
“John was a scientist by training and inclination”
As I asked these questions and considered the ways that I naturally slip into doing things without even realizing it, I was reminded of the following verses in Ephesians 2- “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of his great love that he had for us,made us alive with Christ even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace!”
I have been made alive in Christ because of the richness of God’s mercy, his great love and his saving grace. I don’t have to be bound by my inclinations! What good news this is!
Upon arriving home, I started praying through scripture using the Pray the Word Journal, an excellent ministry tool available through The MOB Society (a ministry for Mothers of Boys that I have the privilege of working for). One of the challenges in the book is to pick a verse to pray for your family throughout the year (check out www.verseoftheyear.com). I love choosing this verse in conjunction with my one word, so I began looking through scripture for the word “inclinations”, but quickly changed to the active “incline” instead. As a result, I settled on these verses from Proverbs 22:17-19a…
Incline your ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply your heart to knowledge, for it will be pleasant if you keep them within you, if all of them are ready on your lips. That your trust may be in the Lord…
Incline, hear and apply that it will be pleasant for you and your trust may be in the Lord.
This year, I will be focusing on uncovering my tendencies, my proclivities, my propensities and my inclinations. As I uncover them, I will seek to yield to God’s mercy, love and grace to change me where I need to be changed, so that my default will move from fleshly desires to spirit-led passions.
It seems like a heavy word, but the truth is that I can already feel weights lifting. I don’t have to be lazy. I don’t have to feel inadequate. I don’t have to please all the people. I don’t have to be unhealthy in my decision making. My default CAN change. I simply need to set my inclinations in the right direction.