In my last blog post I shared that my word for the year is measured. So far, 19 days into 2021 this word is serving me well! I am using it to hold myself accountable as I make daily decisions that impact the rhythm and flow of my life. I’d love for you to review the logic that got me to this lovely word I am clinging to through the ups and downs of 2021. Within that blog, I promised to tell the story of my daughter’s word. After some tears, angst and frustration, Harper selected the word peace.
Peace is a process.
We begin the process of choosing a word by sitting down and talking about why we were choosing a word. I explained it provides an opportunity to reflect on how the last year went, how we want things to go different in the coming year, and how we might create the conditions to achieve that desired outcome.
She thought for a minute and said her word was going to be “better”. Interesting.
At first, she said this word was because Covid-19 made 2020 so hard and she wanted 2021 to be better. With that simple answer, we began to paint our word on a small-sized canvas, to serve as a reminder of the intention we were setting.
As she began to paint better she consistently watched what I was doing on mine. She tried to mimic my strokes and color selection. Rather than charting her own course, she painted something that was an imitation of mine, with increasing frustration. As she added more and more paint her frustration turned to anger and then ultimately tears. It was “ugly” and “bad” and looked nothing like mine.
I asked her to take a break and walk away for a bit. This fun activity was not meant to be an angst-inducing experience. I was feeling like a jerk of a mom, to be honest.
But the story doesn’t stop there.
A blank canvas.
Later that day I took out a new canvas and we started over. I told her why I thought “better” was a great starting point for a word but it shouldn’t be the word for 2021. First, we reflected on how beautiful 2020 was for our family. Yes, we had hardships but wow – we were blessed. That practice of gratitude shifted our hearts and perspectives and helped us both think differently about a word.
Next, I talked to her about her pursuit of perfection. It is a consistent discussion point between us and something I also struggle with (after decades of fighting it!). I told her I was concerned “better” would encourage her to try for perfection instead of trying to be “just right” (our age-appropriate word for excellence). I asked her to consider a word that might describe feeling comfortable and proud of who she is, even if she is not perfect.
She chose peace.
Together, we brainstormed words that could describe that quality and state of being. Ultimately, from a variety of options she chose the word peace.
It was a beautiful moment when she selected the word and an even more beautiful moment watching her paint her canvas. Rather than trying to mimic the canvas I created earlier, she collected her own colors and created her own patterns, textures and design. It was her.
I love that her paintbrush and canvas came together to produce a beautiful creation that is just right. I also love how much she taught me through that experience.
Will you seek personal peace?
Am I finding peace within myself? Have I let go of chasing “better” and opted to celebrate being just right? What about you – what is your personal peace like these days?
Yes, we can always improve and grow. That’s not what this is about. This is about extending yourself grace and permission to make mistakes and still stand confident in who you were made to be.
A great place to start, when seeking personal peace, is remembering where you came from. You were lovingly created by the Father (Psalm 139:14), with purpose and intention. The hairs on your head are counted and your days are known (Luke 12:6-8). You are known by the creator: Let that beautiful truth wash over you. His grace is sufficient and given freely to you – if you are willing to receive it (2 Corinthians 12:9). With all that powerful truth in mind, how can you have anything but personal peace?
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:7