We made it. 2017.

It’s bright and shiny and the last sparkles of confetti are lingering in the air. That means it’s time to start taking our plans seriously.

If you are like me, you’ve given up resolutions because, well, I’ve never met a person who has actually kept them. So, instead, I’ve taken up the practice of creating a framework for my year. My framework is made up of a word and a verse that serve as boundaries for the choices I make in the coming year.

As a strategic thinker, I need the blueprint. Detailed plans don’t work for me. I get restless and forget why I had begun. So, this framework approach works well for me. It isn’t a firm, unmoving checklist of expectations. Instead, it is the outer edges of the space in which I live. A word and a verse that keep me coloring inside the lines.

It’s 2017 and my word is BEYOND.

I am very well aware of the truth that what this year will require of me will be beyond anything I’ve ever done. As I continue to search for a job, I know whether I continue on in vocational ministry or take on a new career, it will be different than any work I’ve ever done. My health choices will require discipline and self-acknowledgement beyond what I have previously practiced. Spiritually, I have already begun to see doors open that I am choosing to explore despite the fact that these journeys will take me beyond where my faith has previously been comfortable. I want to live beyond myself, to love beyond what I naturally do, to look beyond what is right in front of me.
That brings me to my verse.

Don’t let selfishness and prideful agendas take over. Embrace true humility, and lift your heads to extend love to others. Get beyond yourselves and protecting your own interests; be sincere, and secure your neighbors’ interests first.

Philippians 2:3-4 (The Voice)

Last year, it was my word that took some time to emerge. This time around it was my verse. I knew my choice for the coming year needed to be others-focused. As I searched and prayed, it became clear that these verses from Philippians 2 were the perfect words for what lies ahead.

As much as I wish that we were a nation and a world headed toward peace, I do not believe that we are. I believe that we will continue to see our world, our country, our churches, and our families divided over opinions and agendas. It is easy and natural to put our own agendas first. It is common to protect our own interests. And yet, that is not the way of Jesus. I don’t know what it will look like yet for me to live this way. I am not able to see from here how to love someone and seek their interests when the reality may be that I disagree with them. I am certain that in 2017 and for the rest of my years, I want to lift my head to extend love to others. I want to get beyond myself. I want to be sincere. And I want to live in such a way that those who live in fear may find security.

There you have it. The framework that will shape the person I become in 2017. I will live it imperfectly. I will struggle to move beyond on the days I most want to be comfortable. But I will continue to trust that it is the Holy Spirit that enables every ounce of beyond within my bones.

What about you? Do you have a framework for the coming year?

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