One Word for 2014 and an Unexpected Encounter with Mary

Note: I’ve adapted portions of this post from a post I wrote for my other blog at www.ofalltheliars.blogspot.com

I’m in the habit of choosing a word around which to focus each year. My word for this year came later than normal. I toyed with a few options all afternoon on December 31st, but nothing quite fit. I headed (begrudgingly, I admit) off to mass to fulfill my New Year’s obligation to celebrate the solemnity of Mary the Mother of God, sat through mass, and still didn’t have a word. I came back to my parent’s place where I’ve stayed for a week’s break from my own crazy living situation, had some dinner, watched the tail end of a movie with them, and still didn’t have a word.

And then I sat down with my laptop and began looking up definitions. I sat with the emerald-green Moleskine journal I’ve set aside for 2014 – the one that tucks into the pocket of the front cover of my day planner for the year – and I listed goals. I thought about the things in my life that seem overwhelming. I went upstairs and had a bit of a tearful conversation with my mom. And then I looked up more definitions.

And somewhere in there, a word emerged. It came quickly, and as it did, I copied the definitions into the Moleskine. And then three passages of scripture came, too.

My word for 2014 is Persevere.

It’s a fitting word, as I wait for the culmination of a number of things in my life over the coming year. It’s fitting as I look at some of the things that I’m dreaming and praying about, and it’s fitting as I consider some of the things that are currently major stressors in my life, leaving me feeling overwhelmed and maybe a bit adrift.

The definitions from Dictionary.com are as follows:

  1. to persist in anything undertaken, maintain a purpose in spite of difficulty, obstacles or discouragement; continue steadfastly
  2. to persist in speech, interrogation, argument, etc; insist
  3. to bolster, sustain, or uphold

Those definitions seemed right as I considered the list of goals I jotted down for the year, and as I considered the things left incomplete from 2013.

And then there are these three passages of scripture, which speak to the attitude and persona I’m sensing will be necessary for 2014:

Matthew 15:27-28 (The Message)

She was quick, “You’re right, Master, but beggar dogs do get scraps from the master’s table.” Jesus gave in. “Oh woman, your faith is something else. What you want is what you get!” Right then her daughter became well.

Luke 18:7-8 (NIV)

And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly.

wedding_cana_bulletin

The Wedding at Cana

John 2:3-5 (NIV)

When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.” “Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

As I jotted that last verse, I had to smile.  After all my years as an evangelical, the Catholic emphasis on Mary is one of the hardest things to get used to in the course of this journey, and I admit that as I sat through the mass honoring her earlier in the evening, I had to work hard to pay attention and to not roll my eyes at the emphasis placed on her. As a single woman, I find her even harder to understand – the most revered woman in the church, celebrated primarily for her role as mother.  Not highly relatable to my daily life.

And then I came home and began to pray for a word and for the year ahead.  And as quickly as the word came, the verses flowed, culminating in that verse from the famous passage describing the wedding at Cana.  The verse where Mary essentially calls Jesus out – nearly nagging Him into revealing himself and beginning his ministry.  As I jotted the final phrases of that verse into my moleskin, I had to laugh as another phrase leaped immediately to mind.  I continued to laugh as I penned the following on the bottom of the journal page, “No one perseveres like a Jewish mama!”

And so unexpectedly, I found Mary in the direction that Jesus is leading me this year – a model for perseverance.  It makes me smile, to find these little “coincidences” in the way that Jesus is speaking to me as I begin a new year.

So, here’s to 2014 – my year of “persevere” (and apparently a year in which Mary is being set before me as a bit of a model of this characteristic!)

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