The new year is almost upon us and, with it, a new beginning. There is something about that idea that makes my heart sing. While each new day could be considered a new beginning, a new year feels bigger, more promising, and full of untapped potential. And who doesn’t like a fresh start every now and then?
I have thought long and hard about what word to focus on for 2016 (For more on why I focus on one word instead of a list of goals, check out this post.) I narrowed it down to a couple of words that seemed equally wonderful, but finally settled on STAND.
Back when I was a 16 years old, my church youth group boarded charter buses and drove from Arizona to BYU in Provo, Utah for a youth conference. The theme of that conference was “Take a Stand,” and it was one of the defining experiences of my youth. It was a spiritual feast that left me hungry for more. I still vividly recall the way that my heart burned within my chest during the closing meeting. The spirit of God filled the room with such abundance that it was almost tangible. I think that was the first time that I felt the spirit in such an undeniable way, and I went home with a firm resolve to stand for truth and to stand with God, no matter what.
Years have passed since then, and the invitation to “take a stand” calls to me now more than ever. The world is filled with conflicting voices and messages that grow louder with each passing year. Confusion, especially surrounding spiritual things, is rampant. Some people are moving away from God. Others are clinging to the truth that they hold dear, despite mounting persecution. Many do not know what to believe amidst opposing viewpoints that are all convincing on one level or another. Living is such a landscape will easily result in one being tossed to and fro upon the sea of bewilderment unless they decide where they stand, and then hold their ground.
The word stand begins with thought and personal reflection, but does not end there, which is where I sometimes get stuck. It revolves around putting thought and internal values into action. It requires conviction, courage, vulnerability, strength and self-mastery. Some of these things are difficult for me, which is why I am choosing to work on them this year.
I am usually most comfortable observing from a distance and keeping relatively quiet. However, these words from Edmund Burke are ringing in my ears:
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
The time has come for me to stand.