this is the story of how my word found me:

october, and i'm beginning to consider what it is my next steps might be. what word i'd want to lean into, especially as my "official" word for the new year. immediately, i say "space", and try it on for size. but i feel this internal shift in a direction i don't want to go whenever i try to embrace it.

don't get me wrong.

i still want space. still need space, long to give space, hold space, discover what lies in the spaces between.  (plus my 4-year-old is obsessed with space. it comes up OFTEN)

but when i hold that word close, weigh it against my longings, i find that the way i would be prone to engage it is to isolate. which is already my natural bent. and not something i want to intentionally go about doing.

i let go of this word, keep looking.

november now, i stop to listen, take stock of what has been speaking in my soul. i flip through The Artist's Rule by Christine Paintner, a book that spoke to my deepest soul-spaces all august and september. and i remember: "open." i heard the invitation over and over again. to open to love, to hope, to God. that's it, i think, and wait for january.

december begins with a buzz of writer-friends asking each other: "what is your word?" i hold mine close, still waiting and wondering. in one particular facebook thread as my friends are talking about their "words" (or lack thereof - this process is laced with angst for some), someone says: "i think someone in this thread has the word 'rest'." and i cry. deep tears of knowing God has been calling me to rest, and to play, and here she is speaking it. i comment that this is making me cry, and she messages me. "i think your word is 'restored'." and describes how rest is part of that.

my response? "i don't want that word - it sounds like 'a word people pick', but it doesn't resonate with me." restore? really, God? so cliché. (and it's the name of habitat for humanity's retail shop: "RE-store". ew - i don't want a word that makes me think of a secondhand home goods store... except, i really like that store, but that's beside the point.)

but because i believe she hears things, i wait and hold both words with open hands, one in each palm.

i take a walk to mull it over, and i find myself simultaneously in love with and resistant to this word, "restore".

because, here's the thing: it is all-gift.

when i consider my healing, my desires, things i would long for restoration in my deep spaces, it's not something i DO, but something i RECEIVE.

and this makes me feel immensely loved by God. it rises up giddy in my throat.


i kinda wanted a word i could "do".

i'm not in control of how this word affects my year. my only part in it is to stay... you guessed it - {open}. 

to allow for rest and healing, to turn my heart in the direction of my longings so i can engage with God in the process of seeing restoration happen. it's beautiful, really. i hold myself open to him, vulnerable to his tender touch. he restores. 

a friend describes to me some pieces of the process of restoring a painting: the incredible attention the restorer pays to the painting, his lovingly precise and gentle brush. my spiritual director explains even more: the way the restorer has to first take layers of old, unhelpful varnish off - deconstructing what was once protecting and now only diminishing the beauty of what is underneath.

i resonate DEEP with that. that has been my season these past months, a year of autumn shedding.

letting go of old stories and ways of being.

letting go of unhealthy relationships and systems.

next will be the restoring of the piece to its intended glory - the way it was designed to reflect light and depth and color in the heart of the artist.

and that, my friends, sounds amazing. i can't wait.

AuthorJamie Bonilla