A year ago, encouraged by Velvet Ashes, I picked a word for 2015. I honestly wasn’t completely sold on picking one word, so I didn’t blog about it or really force myself to do anything with it. I just let it resonate within me. And, I don’t think the experience totally changed my life. But looking back at 2015 through the lens of my word—invest–I see that it was a helpful guide. It did encourage me to invest on the days I didn’t want to leave my house or it didn’t seem like I was making any progress in Chinese. And the thing about investing is that it takes time. I’ve seen some fruit of my investment, but I’m sure that there is still plenty of fruit to come, as I continue to invest in life in Beijing.
One of my biggest areas of investment in 2015 was in relationships. I will continue to invest in relationships, probably forever. But New Year’s Eve 2015 is an example of how my investment is bearing fruit. I hosted a party for some friends that I know from different venues. One family I know because they also study at my school, some were friends I met at church, and one I met through mutual friends. We had dinner together and played games. While I was preparing dinner, I got a phone call from someone else. She was calling to check on how I was feeling because I’d been sick over Christmas, and to make sure I wouldn’t be alone for the holiday. I didn’t know any of these people a year ago. Investing in inviting people over and getting to know them has paid off.
Another place I invested a lot of time and energy was learning Chinese. And while it is always easier for me to see how far I still have to go, my investment in learning is paying off. My Chinese is a lot better than it was a year ago. This week I managed to solve a somewhat complex (at very least, out of the ordinary) banking problem, using Chinese. Part of how I solved this was asking the lady at the bank to talk to my landlord and help explain what was happening and get information from him. But between my Chinese and her help (in a land where the customer is not always right, I was really, really thankful for her gracious spirit and excellent service). I also explained (at least the basics) how to play both Set and Phase 10 in Chinese. I discovered that there are a lot of expressions for playing games that I don’t know, but was able to communicate my point.
And finally, I invested in my home, making it feel like a home, both for me and people who visit. It is a gift to feel settled and not like I am camping or making-do because I will only be here for a few more months. I’ve invested, because this is my home.
So if 2015 was a year of investment, what does 2016 hold? I don’t fully know what the year will hold, of course. But the word that seems to be calling out to me is delight. Honestly, to my Dutch-American Calvinist heart, delight seems a tiny bit frivolous. Some of the other words I was thinking about included heavier words, like “sustain” and “rooted.” But delight it is. It isn’t without scriptural precedent, even if the number of sermons I have heard or preached on the topic are few and far between.
“Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.” (Isaiah 55:2)
“The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you.” (Zephaniah 3:17)
As I enter 2016, I hope to delight in the riches of God. I hope to delight in the beauty of the world—people, places, art, culture. I hope to delight in who God has created and called me to be.
Linking up to Velvet Ashes: The Grove.