For most of the month as everyone’s “word of the year” buzzed about, I thought that I wouldn’t choose one for 2016. There were lots of words swirling inside me, the hopes I had for myself in 2016, but I could not find a word that encapsulated all of them. One day, I was skimming through my bullet journal and I had page titled: “Words I Like.” Apparently, I wasn’t dedicated to this list because even though I started it in June, only one word was listed: gumption.
I knew this was my word. Every area I want to grow in, every area I want to push myself in, and all the feelings whirling about at the tail end of 2015, fit together to create a finished puzzle spelling out the word gumption.
Growing up, this wasn’t something that I lacked. I’m sure there are people reading this that are surprised I chose this word. But I think, or rather, I know, I have allowed life to chip away at my courage, guts, and spunk. I can see–in my mind’s eye–the girl inside my chest slowing backing away and curling up to be as small as possible. It just seemed easier to fade away. It happened slowly and over time until I realized I had removed myself from life giving things I love, relationships that are good and important, opportunities to reach for, community to grow in, and even God. I picture a watercolor painting left out in a drizzle. If I don’t bring that painting inside soon, if I don’t take action sooner rather than later, all the color will be gone. Life is rough; it is difficult. You’ll get knocked down and skin your knees. But it’s also beautiful and powerful. I have to be fully present to experience both. And I need the gumption, the courage, to fully reenter life.
Fear of failure cannot continue to keep me from trying, Gumption, my friend, gumption. Hope is not to be feared–as in if I want this less maybe I will get it–but instead welcomed because of gumption.
(In fact, there is a great song called Gumption from the movie The Holiday…) Also, just because I mentioned The Holiday does not mean this is about romantic relationships. My friend mentioned this association after I chose the word and I like the idea of it. Gumption will be applied to every area of my life. Or that’s the plan.
Whenever I am nervous over something, there is a verse I go back to again and again. In fact, I usually reread the whole chapter if it a particularly nerve-wracking situation. But for the sake of brevity, here is my favorite part, after Moses dies and God tells Joshua, he is going to lead his people: “…Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).
That’s where my gumption is coming from. I think that’s what different from when I was younger. That courage and those guts were all from my own strength and sooner or later I was bound to get tired. And did I ever. But this gumption is just another form of grace. Because if I am living a life full of grace and gumption than failure is not something to be feared.
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