January 11, 2023
By Jo Wiersema
Midweek Musings is a weekly Covenant blog with a variety of authors and a variety of topics.
I love Epiphany Stars. I love setting an intention that doesn’t require me to make a vision board of ideas of how to live a year. I love the idea of trusting the Holy Spirit to challenge me in new and exciting ways where I can try and grow and live into my potential.
Jane’s story about Communion this past Sunday really resonated with me. Jane struggled initially to find how the word “Communion” could really apply to all parts of life. How can we live in communion? How can we lean into a word that we might not say on a day-to-day basis.
My word last year was Encouragement.
I picked it up and I giggled a bit:
I’m an encouraging person
I like to encourage others
I enjoy being a champion for those who need it.
I gave the Holy Spirit a little wink and a “thank you” for the easy target. I walked away from my Star Word with a jaunty step since this was going to be a walk in the park.
Oh, what it feels like to be young and innocent in my knowledge of how that little word would help me.
I’ve taken a lot of personality tests in my life. I’ve done a lot of analysis on how I am (Meyers-Briggs), how I am motivated (The Four Tendencies), and how I view the world (Enneagram).
The central theme in all these assessments is I pour myself out for others - A LOT.
I will always make time for friends and family. I will make sure others are taken care of, often at the expense of my own well-being. What that ends up meaning in a practical sense, is the work I need to do to support myself gets done last.
This isn’t something to pity or be sad about, but it’s something I’ve come to learn about myself over the years. I love people, I love working with people, but my priorities shift more often than they should. Often, I am treating my life like a game of Tetris trying to figure out where self-care fits in.
So, what does this mean for Encouragement?
My jaunty walk in the park wasn’t so easy when I realized what this meant from a practical perspective. I placed my star in my home office by my desk. Every day, sitting down to study or work, I was reminded about encouragement... doing school work, learning new languages, memorizing historical dates, spending time pouring over the Book of Confessions... I often felt like I didn’t know what I was doing.
Somewhere last year, I began feeling like an imposter. I wasn’t smart enough, or Christian enough, or enough to be successful in seminary.
Maybe I wasn’t meant to continue to encourage others? Maybe I was being called to encourage myself.
This feels cheesy. This feels afterschool special, We’re All In This Together, kind of cheesy, but by golly it’s true.
All of this is to say...
Sometimes we’re called to challenge ourselves.
Not to work harder or be more efficient, but to love ourselves a little bit better.
We can encourage ourselves to stand up for what we need: a break, a nap, a really good snack.
We can be our own advocates as we fight the cultural need to be the best or to be efficient.
We are to encourage ourselves to live into our call and to maybe slow down a little bit.
This year my word is Enthusiasm. I love the word enthusiasm.
I smirked again this year when I got my word. Enthusiastic? That’s so me.
I’ve got this. As I started to get just a bit too confident, I remembered how humbled I was by Encouragement.
So, who am I supposed to enthuse? Myself? My Seminary? Covenant?
I’m not sure, but I’m excited to jump in.