And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains, and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. And when Eli’jah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. -1 Kings 19:11-13
God knows the big picture of our lives with all the different layers. He knows our strengths and our areas for growth and desires to lead us on a journey of sanctification – an adventure to help us discover the beauty of who He created us to be. He knows exactly what we need, when and how we need it. Where we recognize areas of growth and desire to have more immediate results, He is able to see the beauty of slow, intentional work, allowing space for deep roots and long-lasting impact.
As a result, often we are aware of changes we perceive need to be made; however, it is not realistic to do everything all at once. Instead, God plants seeds of different areas but also helps to prioritize where we need to do the deep work first, while slowly building a foundation in other areas.
My words for the year show a good glimpse into this process. In 2010, the first year I chose a word, it was simplicity. I recognized that I wanted to slow down and more fully embrace family life, rather than having my career consume so much of my time and energy. I knew that it was time to reel in some of my career passions in order to not miss out on the beauty of life at home. Nonetheless, the journey with that word had been based on a foundation laid prior and has continued to emerge in different ways throughout the last decade with successes, challenges, and significant milestones along the way. It is easy for me to see how much of the last decade was focused on different layers of this single concept with other words that helped me to more fully enact living it out.
In 2014 my word was salud. I flexibly translated different connotations of the Spanish word to envision a year focusing on health: mind, body, and soul; however, I intended that the main focus of the year would be on my physical well-being. Nonetheless, as the year unfolded, I was able to recognize some small steps but mostly a sense of more of the same. I was still mostly focusing on the mental side as I often felt like I was treading water while trying to navigate family and career. It was disheartening in that I felt like I had not yet made progress away from what seemed to be something I should have been able to fix by then by being reflective and intentional. I wanted to move beyond feeling overwhelmed with the demands of career and family.
When it came to physical health, the years prior and after were marked with positive steps but largely inconsistent. The focus was never front and center to feel like I was making any significant progress. Yet, there would be a whisper here and there that I would not always directly link to long-term health goals, such as a resolve to go to bed at a certain time so that I could consistently wake up early to pray, intentions related to food that spanned short-term (Lent) and longer term seasons (liturgical year-long), and prioritizing walks.
This spring and summer was marked with a lot of exhaustion as my regularly full life felt even fuller based on juggling more pieces concurrently based on the coronavirus related closures. In June when I realized that I was pregnant, I knew that if I was going to be a mom of 6, it was important that I feel as physically well as possible. I wanted to better understand the impact of food that I was eating and have been benefitting from different layers of support from the Reform Wellness community. I am currently in a season where it feels like nutrition is now the “big work” that I am doing in my process of growth. Though there are still aspects of proper prioritization and on-going discernment related to career and family, that feels mostly solid now, enabling me to devote more energy towards more significant changes with nutrition.
I can look back and see how God has been drawing my attention to different layers of growth, supporting small steps along the way, and supporting a sense of focus on the proper order that needed to occur to support my overall journey. For example, shifting to a Christ-centered life and getting clear about how the sacrament of marriage can help shape the choices I make both needed to come first as main areas of focus. Now, it makes sense to focus on nutrition to support being able to better worship, love and serve. The changes that I am implementing today would have been too overwhelming back in 2014 when I anticipated it would be “the year” to do this type of work. Instead, it was like God was whispering to point in the direction we would be heading and building a foundation. I have been able to weave together different small pieces (some of which were just short-term at the time) in order to be ready for integrating into more comprehensive work now with a clear sense of purpose guiding my convictions.
Questions for Reflection:
- Which areas of growth seem to be ways in which God is supporting deeper work in your life right now?
- Which areas feel like they come up again and again but it is a challenge to dedicate the energy and focus to make bigger, more substantial changes?
- What are the small changes or intentions that you are making/have been making, even if short in duration, that might be supporting deep work in the future in those areas?
- Looking back over a span of time (years, decades), what evidence can you see of how you have been growing that can provide encouragement when you feel like you are in the same place? Which experiences or seasons have stretched you but ultimately supported growth as a result of the challenges?
Copyright 2020 Amanda Villagómez // Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash