As you may have perceived from other columns I have written over the last several years, I am fascinated by the brain.
My fascination began as I worked with a professional therapist in relation to my own trauma and depression. As my understanding broadened, I became more and more convinced that brain health is not optional.
One particular realization I needed to learn and apply for myself was that multiple emotions—even ones that seem in opposition—can (and do!) co-exist.
To help demonstrate, here’s an exercise I learned: 1. Draw a heart. 2. Color your emotions inside the heart to represent what you are feeling at a given moment or about a particular circumstance.
While simple, I have found this activity to be beneficial and therapeutic.
For instance, when the world closed out 2017 a couple weeks ago, I found myself juxtaposed between excitement for 2018 and waves of deep despair triggered by the anniversary of a past life-altering New Year’s Eve tragedy.
But for some reason, this year the holiday seemed more difficult to wade through than usual. Applying the aforementioned exercise can help me understand why.
If I draw a heart and then color the emotions I have when I think about 2017, what would it look like? A few main colors would be black, gray and blue (I have an emotional black eye right now!), which is probably the source of added difficulty.
But I would also put in a vibrant green, which for me would stand for confidence that things will work out, sunny yellow because even with the black, grey and blue, there were also many happy moments, and hot pink, because I still remain excited about the days to come.
Amazingly, within—not surrounding, but actually in the midst of—the overcast-coloring, I would detail pockets of gold, glittering with hope. The shimmer is key to my word of the year—or overarching theme as opposed to resolution—for 2018.
My word is “wonder.”
Wonder is defined like this: “A feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar or inexplicable.”
Wonder: “A desire to be curious to know something.”
Wonder: “To feel admiration and amazement; marvel.”
Magical, right? But the wonderful thing about wonder is not that it feels vaguely reminiscent of unicorns, but that it can be fully grounded in reality. It is true that not all my heart colors are hues of gold. The sickish fade of bruising hasn’t disappeared. The colors that ended 2017 weren’t erased at the start of 2018.
But with renewal of my mind has come transformation of circumstance, regardless of its colors. Knowing the difference between being tossed by the waves and firmly rooted in good soil has made it possible to marvel, even in the face of adversity.
And my good soil, my reality, is Christ. Sola Christo. He is where my wonder is sourced, and why even the small pockets of gold hold so much hope and promise for the year to come.
Every time I open my Bible to study, I see clearer. The revealed Word is where life makes sense. At times it leaves me breathless as I read and ponder. Those words are what makes my wonder come alive. It is how I am confident that the shimmery gold will slowly increase, spreading over the discoloration of my bruising.
I expect to feel surprise mingled with admiration as I continue to step forward in faith. I expect to be amazed at the beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar or inexplicable. I expect to press ahead with curious wonder and a desire to learn.
I expect to marvel as I grow in good understanding of the one whose name alone is holy and awesome (see Psalm 111).
In 2018, I desire more moments akin to sitting outside on a summer night—deep in the country away from city lights—where crickets chirp and the breeze rustles tree leaves, blending into a gentle, soothing melody. More moments where I sit, staring up into the night sky, purely captivated by the vast expanse of twinkling stars suspended high above me.
More moments where I am in clear agreement of the proof before me: “I am so small.” Where those words aren’t meant in degradation or despair, but as fact.
I am so small!
That’s how I want to approach 2018. In awe, in wonder, of Christ: perfect, enormous and incalculable.
Malinda Just has been writing Lipstick & Pearls for the Free Press since 2008. To read more of her writing visit her blog, malindajust.com.