So What’s Next?
By: Marisa Randle
January is coming to a close, and so with it, many of those well-intentioned New Year’s resolutions…I know how it is. I have been guilty of falling off the proverbial wagon after just a few weeks too! There is something about a season of renewal that is so exciting, yet so fleeting when reality hits, right? Much like the calendar and seasonal year we find in nature, the Catholic year invites us, over and over again, into seasons during which we are given the opportunity to draw nearer to God, to Jesus, and to the Holy Spirit. We just experienced the quiet of Advent, the joy of Christmas, and soon we will head into the reflection and simplicity of Lent and the passion and inspiration of Easter and Pentecost. There is also Ordinary Time, during which we have the chance to nurture those seeds planted in us during the other great Church seasons throughout the year.
So, although January is over, I have a challenge for you regarding what comes next – slightly more subtle than your typical New Year’s resolution or laundry list of goals. I am hoping this could be a connective thread for you throughout all seasons of 2016: pick just one word to define your year.
I am not totally sure where the idea came from, but it is something I started doing as a young adult, in my mid to late 20s part at least. Old St. Pat’s was already my home, but I had not really started to dig into my adult faith formation wholeheartedly. For years I attended OSP, not really engaging with the people sitting in the pews next to me – for a whole variety of reasons – but I was comforted by the familiarity of my cradle Catholic practice. However, this incredibly special church community created a real beckoning in me – slowly, I have been drawn to live more purposefully, and I have learned that comfort is certainly not going to be the thing that gets me there.
I decided one New Year to look back on the last few calendar years and attribute one word to each of them – I would consider these a few tough years for me, when I was really trying to figure out what kind of person I wanted to be and was meant to be (and oh yes, still working on that!). I noticed that the ‘words’ I came up with for each of those few years were not the most positive, so I decided that instead of looking back, it might be better to come up with one word each New Year that would inspire my year to come.
In other words, I decided to get proactive in my journey. I will be honest that I am not sure I intently listened for God’s input for the first few years I tried this out, but now that I do, it has made all the difference. Last year the word that God and I landed on was ‘Service’, and I had no idea that, among other things, it would lead to encountering a passionate group of young adults at Old St. Pat’s who were re-invigorating young adult ministry and were developing new ways for young adults to participate more fully in this church’s mission. One of the fruits of my 2015 word was definitely getting to be a part of OSP Next, which is fostering the next generation of our church community here.
I also learned that it definitely helps to share your word with some loved ones – so you don’t forget about it throughout the year and that the blessing might be multiplied! For 2016, I shared this one-word-for-the-year idea with my OSP Faith Sharing Group; six young women who have been meeting bi-weekly for many years now. They continually help me grow in so many ways that I need to. I will also add that I never would have found them if I had not been listening to God nudging me to be more proactive in my faith formation. Much to my excitement, all of the girls were interested in choosing their own words this year, and we agreed that we would support each other by checking in on it every time we meet. We chose ‘Fulfillment’, ‘Purposeful’, ‘Obedience’, ‘Vulnerable’, ‘Relationship’, and ‘Open & Radiant’ (hey, maybe you need a double word if it feels right!).
Let me be clear, this is not about perfecting your word during the year. The expectation of perfection is probably why many rigid New Year’s resolutions can be so overwhelming that we sometimes lose momentum. You will most likely find that this one-word intention is about the gift of the process – the unexpected paths and likely detours – that striving for your word may bring.
I challenge you to consult with our amazing Creator and see what is being whispered in your heart – what might be the word that you are being called to live out all year long? Choosing just one word is simple – it might manifest in many different areas of your life this year, or maybe it will be one, big loud and clear thing that becomes a focus for you. If you follow it with God’s guidance, I think something awesome might be in store.
Marisa is the OSP Next Young Adult Coordinator at Old St. Patrick’s Church.