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Good Words

Friends, my playlist is about to get a major Mama makeover.


Elliott and I have never been the kind of parents to keep our preferred music away from our son. Sure, some of the content got watered down once little man’s ears started to pick up on words, but we never fully converted our music of choice over to a Kidz Bop-approved variety.

Over the last year or so, Brooks – our son who is now five years old – has taken a special interest in singing along with me to the songs that are on my playlist. We sing in the car, he sings along with the music while I work out or while we run down back country roads. It’s kind of become our thing. When we get to the songs that are filled with uplifting messages – messages that reinforce our faith or encourage self-confidence – I always say, “Listen, buddy! These are good words.”

After a few months of me reminding him to pay close attention to the lyrics in certain songs, Brooks has now started to ask me, “Mommy, are these good words?” when he hears …

My 2018 Word of the Year

I have a friend who shared with me several years ago that instead of setting New Years resolutions, she chose a Word of the Year. I love this concept. I'm not one of those folks that has any particular beef with resolutions - I'm kind of all for whatever motivates you to improve your station in life and move you forward - but I do believe that implementing long-lasting lifestyle changes is a more powerful practice than simply setting a resolution. But if resolutions are your thing and you find success with setting them...you do you, friend.

The point is...I love the concept of having a Word of the Year. But I admittedly cheat with this. I think I've only ever actually had two of them, and I choose to just repeat them until I'm ready to move on to another word. I feel pretty certain that's not how it's supposed to work...but my words, my rules.

My first ever Word of the Year(s) was "intentional." It should probably be one of my words every year (who says you can just have one?!) - I need to focus on it THAT much. Taking control of my own life and purposefully setting things into motion that I have set as goal...that's powerful stuff. So I carried it around with me as my Word of the Year for several years, and I honestly keep in tucked in my back pocket every day, every year, even now.

But last year, I found a new favorite word, and it kind of just became my Word of the Year. And I'm keeping it for 2018 because I now realize that the 2017 version of myself couldn't fully grasp its meaning. It meant one thing to me then, at the point I was at in my life...which wasn't a great one. And it has an all new, beautiful meaning now that I'm intentionally (see what I did there?) pursuing the best version of myself.

So. What is this word that I'm carrying around with me for the second year in a row? Drumroll please...

Resilience.

I'm serious, y'all. This one might be what finally pushes me over the edge to get a word tattooed onto my body. (If you see my Mama at Walmart, please don't tell her I said that.) But this word has become more and more significant and meaningful to me over the last couple of years. When I first grabbed hold of it, it was almost a rallying cry for myself and my family as we grieved the shocking loss of my Daddy (more about that in my last post). And then, over time, I woke up one day to realize that I had grown into a version of myself that I didn't recognize or care for. And I made the choice to change. Resilience took on a whole new meaning.

A quick Google search of "definition of resilience" yields this result: the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.

The word first became significant to me when I started reading Option B, the book written by Sheryl Sandberg after she suddenly and tragically lost her husband. She co-wrote it with Adam Grant, a friend of hers who is a psychologist. Below is one of my favorite paragraphs from the book:

"I thought resilience was the capacity to endure pain, so I asked Adam how I could figure out how much I had. He explained that our amount of resilience isn't fixed, so I should be asking instead how I could become resilient. Resilience is the strength and speed of our response to adversity - and we can build it. It isn't about having a backbone. It's about strengthening the muscles around our backbone."

That's good stuff right there, y'all. Go back and read it a couple more times if you need to. I've probably read that paragraph 20 times since I first picked up this book. What a wonderful concept that we can take control of our own response to adversity and build it, just like a muscle.

But don't do what I did with this wonderful word when I first started to grab hold of it. Don't let yourself misunderstand it and misinterpret it. Resilience doesn't mean self-reliant. It doesn't mean closed off. It doesn't mean the absence of vulnerability. Quite the opposite, actually. I'm learning that resilience means that we can take the tools and strength that God has given us and take the reigns of our own life...but it doesn't mean we have to always have it together, that we don't need other people, that we have to have all the answers. I'm learning that perhaps the true strength of a person lies in his or her ability to be honest about the hot mess that is so often life. To embrace the crazy, be honest about our mistakes and failures, and hopefully bless the lives of other folks through it.

We are fortunate, particularly as women, to live in such a time of transparency. The ladies whose shoulders we stand upon didn't have it so easy. Our mamas and grandmamas grew up in a time where "stand still, look pretty" might not have been a catchphrase, but it was often a way of life. They didn't have the luxury of being honest about their struggles, their insecurities, their failures. Many of them couldn't let themselves be vulnerable.

But I'm finding that vulnerability and resilience so often go hand in hand. We have to open ourselves up to this big, beautiful, unknown world if we ever have a prayer at sharing our gifts, talents and experiences with others. This blog, starting AFP with my husband, becoming a Beautycounter consultant...these are all projects that I've started in the last few months in the attempt to be the best version of myself. But that very intentional (there it is again!) pursuit only started after a year of being a less than ideal (ok, that's an understatement) version of myself. Sometimes we have to walk through the dark places to get to the sweetest, brightest places. But we absolutely must be honest with ourselves in order to get out of the darkness. And that takes resilience.

I don't know what you're battling. But I know that most likely, you've got a battle going on. A dark place you're walking through. A new version of Option B that you're living. I hope that you'll give yourself the grace to own it, to embrace the vulnerability that you need in order to be honest with yourself. And then grab hold of that sweet silver lining that you so desperately crave...and fight for it. Chase it down. Work intentionally for it every single day. Build your resilience. And then maybe, just maybe, by this time next year, these will be more than just words that we carry around with us. They will be true descriptions of how we live our lives. The words by which others define us. But more importantly...the words by which we define ourselves.

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