I probably think about words more than a healthy person should (see: grace). Words are important to me. This end-of-year tradition of picking a word for next year is serious business! It’s a bizarre form of New Year Resolutions for readers, writers, dreamers, goal-setters, and visionaries. We get to pick one word which will steer and shape the journey our year takes. Yikes!
As I journeyed through the dark winter months of 2015, I chose to focus on advent. As I pondered the “already/not-yet” tension of the season, I became aware of the absence of a feeling that once shaped my perspective. I remembered it fondly, realizing how vital it is. It is amazing how profound, life-shaping feelings can just fade away. The feeling that faded was my sense of wonder.
When I found Christ in my 32nd year, my life became filled with wonder. I was captivated by the message of the Gospel. My thoughts were consumed with the possibilities… somehow this infant in a manger was the Son of God and savior of the world. My goodness…God had a son…just like me. Because of His deep love for us, He sent His son to the world to be raised by others, build close relationships, live out a ministry, stand falsely accused of blasphemy and treason, and then be unjustly and brutally murdered. As tragic as it appears, there was a beautiful purpose behind it all.
The story didn’t end there. He rose again, conquering death while proving he truly was the son of God and savior of men. All this left me wonderstruck. Each individual piece of the story bounced around inside my head, opening my mind to possibilities and implications. Yes, I had a million why questions, and I explored them. More deeply than that was the profound wonder that continued to draw me deeper.
This wonder overflowed into the rest of my life. I stared into the depths of the night sky with new awe and appreciation. The people I met–both in the States and abroad–I saw with new eyes. They were brothers and sisters joining me on a journey, each with inherent dignity and value. Even the words I wrote and lessons I taught filled me with awe and wonder, and not at myself but at the ultimate source of it all. God.
I can’t tell you what changed over the years. Life goes on. It happens to all of us. We grow accustomed to the light we live in. It becomes normal, routine, and monotonous.
I can give a thousand reasons. I’m so busy. In addition to my day job, I’ve been attending graduate school, doing public speaking, teaching, photographing, and trying to get a book published. That’s all in addition to being a father, husband, and friend. I’ve always been busy, though.
The word and goal for 2016 is to appreciate and fall back into the wonder of it all. It is to be aware of the awe that surrounds us. The seasons come and go, as do our plans and goals. A perspective of child-like wonder at the universe we’re in, the people around us, and the God above us leads to an attitude of thankfulness and hope. It brings optimism and appreciation. It fuels our gratitude and unity with others.
I rediscover the wonder in life by interrupting my day. It happens when I watch our bird feeders or when I capture a sunset. I remember it when I read the Word without expectation. It happens when I notice.
How do you rediscover wonder?
Let’s do this together.