In college, I was a Dave Matthews fan; something like 13 shows in 4 years. As an avid guitar player, witnessing his shows was watching a work of art unfold on stage in perfect harmony.
Last year, I made epic plans to see him again for the first time since 2004. Dave was coming to Raleigh; the perfect setting for a night away with Liz!
A couple of days before the show, one of the boys came down with the flu. In a household with small children, when one gets it, they all get it. Chances are, you’ll get it too; and we did.
Two weeks later, we had plans to go to dinner for my birthday. My chance to redeem a night away with Liz.
We had to cancel when the stomach bug came calling. It made me want to throw up. (all puns intended)
Honest truth. I was angry – very angry.
Although I wouldn’t admit it then, my desires – what I wanted – seemed to pervade my thoughts. When anything stepped in the way, frustration gave way to anger.
My blessings looked a lot like burdens. With that perspective, I became deserving and bitter. When I looked in the mirror of my heart, I didn’t like what I saw. I was ungrateful.
About that time, I was so very fortunate to grab coffee with a friend who just happened to be my pastor; Mike Ashcraft
Mike was preparing for his release of “My One Word” and it was naturally part of our conversation. Having attended Port City Church for 5 years, I was very familiar with the concept, but had never fully embraced the practice. It sounded like a catchy idea, but really, focusing on one word with ALL that I had to do?
Mike’s encouragement provided incredible insight.
I began to be honest with myself and here’s what I saw…
Using the excuse, “the kids are sick” or its polar opposite “we don’t want to get the kids sick”, our consistency at church had become rather inconsistent.
“I don’t have enough time” became my mantra to extinguish all desires.
Even more, I stopped intentionally reading and listening to positive insight.
I stopped seeking wisdom.
As January dawned, the hope of change filled my heart; not simple behavioral change, I wanted heart-level change. I saw a deadly cycle of floating aimlessly down the river of life. A father who worked to provide, tried so hard to do what was right and became angry when things didn’t go the way he wanted them to go.
Guilt started the cycle over.
Rather than another year of failed resolutions, I took Mike’s encouragement to focus them into one word to help me shape the way I viewed everything.
The word GRATEFUL rested in my mind.
Then, with Mike’s approval, I tweaked the rules a little bit, I started playing with the word and misspelled it. This really helped my word come to life.
I turned GRATEFUL into GREATFULL
~ Pursuing greatness through a lens of gratitude
I started being intentionally thankful for everything, even the common inconveniences of head colds, flu bugs and disrupted plans.
I started reading and listening to things that taught me about gratitude; filling my mind and heart with influences that pushed me towards my word.
Podcasts on gratitude. Books on perspective. Conversations about dreaming.
Gratitude began to take root in my heart; it began to grow fruit.
It became active and sparked a pursuit of greatness.
It wasn’t always constant, but I began to recognize the old habits, the old tendencies. My heart, now inclined towards gratitude, began to reject everything else.
This focus allowed me to hear God whispering.
Had I started the year with a list of resolutions that looked like this…
- Focus on my walk with Christ
- Be a great husband
- Become a better father
- Grow my business
- Run a half marathon
- Start a blog
- Write a book
- Build a home
…I would likely have failed.
Twelve months later, I recognize:
“Change is possible, focus is required” – Mike Ashcraft
Here I stand, toeing the line with another year, thinking through another word. Hope and excitement fill my heart as I anticipate all that is ahead.
As I am writing, the word TRUST comes to mind…
TRUST may just be the one word that continues the change I want to see in myself.
What about you?
Quick grab a pen, that word that just popped into your head…that may be it. Or maybe that one…
Let hope take over as you step into 2014.
What one word will change your life?
Don’t forget! We’re giving away 5 signed copies of “My One Word: Change Your Life With Just One Word”
- Share this post or Mike’s with your connections
- Use #MyOneWord or tag @mikeashcraft or @matthamsr so we’ll know
- Leave a comment about what word you are considering
We look forward to hearing from you!