A new year, a new word

For the last few years, through prayer and pondering, I’ve had a word for the year. This year, the word that came forward and offered itself was ‘promise’.

No specific promise came along with it, so I began to look into the word itself and it was the second verb definition that resonated with me:

with obj. ] give good grounds for expecting (a particular occurrence or situation): forthcoming concerts promise a feast of music from around the world | [ with infinitive ] :  it promised to be a night that all present would long remember.

Mmmm…a year of promise – a year full of the expectation of – I’m going to go ahead and make it a positive, as you knew I would 🙂 – good occurrences or situations. I quite like that.

The words I’ve had previously have had an application aspect to them e.g. rest – deliberately concentrating on being restful; or intention – requiring me to really think and plan. But promise, well, promise requires me to do nothing but hope and keep my eyes open for the forthcoming good things.

And I’ve also been challenged by what I define as good. As is often the case, my definition of a word isn’t always what God means by that same word. And good definitely falls into that category.

For most of us, good things are the things that make us happy or make our life easier somehow or have some reward or kickback. Yet even a cursory read of the Bible should cause us to rethink what God means by good. By God’s definition, it seems good is anything that brings me closer to Him. And we all know that those things aren’t always what makes us happy or life easier, nor do they always carry a reward we can see in the here and now.

I like the freedom that this word brings and it ties in nicely with last years’ word of rest – rest in the promise of all this year holds 🙂

And what says promise more than the dawning of a new day? This pic is from a couple of years back that I love because it captures two of my favourite things – the beach and a fresh new day rising to meet us.

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The way you make me feel.

Last week, I rang a business I had never called before, looking to enlist their services. The lady on the phone was a little abrupt and then, straight after she had asked a relevant question and I had begun to answer, it became clear to me that she wasn’t listening. And then it became abundantly clear when she started talking to someone else and I could hear him answering her, you know, like a proper conversation. A bit like the one she should have been having with me.

I stopped talking and waited for her to finish this other conversation that was obviously far more important than procuring my new business. I ended the conversation fairly shortly after that.

Funnily enough, I don’t think I’ll use this particular company.

Now, of course, we could talk about customer service (or lack thereof) but what it made me start to wonder is why? Why did it put me off so quickly? Why does that mean I’ll not be calling this company again for their services?

It’s because of how it made me feel.

It made me feel like I didn’t matter. Like I wasn’t important. Not only as a potential customer but as a person. You ask a question, you listen to the answer. Simple, I would have thought.

I have a fairly healthy self esteem, so my strongest reaction was to decide there and then that I would not give that business my time or money. But it also made me feel small and insignificant. Which isn’t nice.

We all like to feel we matter. I would even go so far as to say that for some that feeling is the difference between life and death. As long as we matter to someone we feel that life is worth it. That we are worth it.

Seemingly little things like being shunned on the phone by a stranger, being ignored in the tea-break room at work, feeling invisible at school or in the school carpark, can all add up to make us feel that we don’t matter.

We need to take care with each other. That one smile that shows you have seen someone, a simple ‘hello’ when passing a stranger in a corridor, really listening to the answer when you ask a question at a party – all these things are small but have enormous ramifications for those around us.

I guess the Bible verse about treating others as you want to be treated has not grown tired with age. If we try to live with an awareness of others, with an awareness of ourselves and what makes us tick, we will start positively feeding into those around us.

And it might just make more difference than you will ever know.