Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Be A Blessing

By Iola Goulton

My word for the year for 2016 was STILL, which I shared about last February.

As I reflected on last year, I realised ‘still’ has multiple meanings … and some of the less obvious meanings might have been more applicable. My initial interpretation was around resting in God, being still before Him:

But was I? 

I don’t know. It’s one of the complexities of Christianity (and perhaps life in general) that we always think we should be doing more—even if that ‘more’ is less. So no, I wasn’t as still as I’d wanted to be. But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t still.

Because ‘still’ has other meanings. The first is to continue as in the past. To be unmoving. To remain. Perhaps to endure. At times, 2016 did feel like a year I endured.

Yet …

I’m still a Christian. Still a wife. Still a mother. Still a daughter. Those are all good things, things I wouldn’t want to change.

On the less-good side, I haven’t done many of the things I said to myself that I wanted to do last year, like publish a book. That’s a lack of motion—another meaning of ‘still’. A negative meaning, in this context.

I was reflecting on the nature of still at the Omega Christian Writers Conference in Australia last October. Was ‘still’ still (!) the right word? Had I interpreted it wrong?

Was it time for a new word?

Then one lady I’d had a one-on-one meeting with at the 2013 conference came up to me. She thanked me for what I’d said during our meeting, because my words had blessed her. I met with several authors at that conference, but my meeting with this author was the one I remember because I was impressed with her ability to overcome and forgive.

She blessed me in 2013 by sharing her story, and she blessed me again in 2016 by thanking me. Her words were an encouragement that I was in the right place at the right time, both in 2013 and 2016. She reminded me that God had worked through me in 2013 to provide her with a word in season.

And she wasn’t the only person. Several other conferences attendees blessed me with their words and their actions in different ways.

During the last meeting at the 2016 conference, we were asked to come up with a word to describe our writing for the coming year (I think. It’s possible I’ve got this wrong!).

The word I chose was BLESSING.

I want to be a blessing to others. I want to be able to encourage people in their writing, and in their lives. I want my writing to bless others. And I want the books I edit to bless others.

So that’s my word for 2017: Blessing.

What about you?

About Iola Goulton

IOLA GOULTON lives with her husband, two teenagers and cat in the sunny Bay of Plenty in New Zealand, between Hobbiton and the Kiwifruit Capital of the World. She holds a degree in marketing, has a background in human resource consulting and freelance editing, is active in her local church and plays in a brass band.

Iola is a reader, reviewer and freelance editor who is currently writing her first novel, contemporary Christian romance with a Kiwi twist, and her first non-fiction book, which aims to help first-time authors navigate the changing world of Christian publishing.

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  1. Thanks Iola! Great post. My word for 2017 is "Joy" and I'm going after it with a club--joyfully :) Jokes aside, I'm doing the "Jesus Always: Embracing Joy in His Presence" devotional by Sarah Young. It helps me stay committed.

    1. Joy - that's a wonderful word. You've got your debut novel coming out this year, so that's one reason to be joyful, and I'm sure there are many more.

      I used to know a man who would always say 'Rejoicing!' when you asked him how he was. He said the Bible tells us to be joyful always, and that's a choice he made every day, to rejoice. I always liked that way of looking at joy and rejoicing.

  2. We often need to be intentional about being a blessing to others as we can get so caught up in our own little worlds and not do it. So having it as a Word for the year is a great way of establishing a daily intention.

    Iola, I expect being an editor requires some discipline to be a blessing … as we authors tend to be over-sensitive to correction. I know I find that when writing a review. I can quickly jump to highlighting the things I didn't enjoy and have to back track to enjoy the author and/or other readers gain some value from the review.

    1. Good point, Ian. With editing, I see that honesty is one way of blessing the authors I work with - giving them the opportunity to improve their work before it's published. Yes, sometimes that honesty needs to be tempered with tact but that's life!

      It's a little harder with reviewing, but then I see myself as writing for the people who might want to read the book. Again, it's about honesty - if I think a book has missed the mark, I need to say so, and say why. I don't want someone buying a book on the strength of my review and hating it!