This New Year I want to try something new.
Rather than making a list of goals to accomplish or changes to make (which, let’s face it, has a reputation of failure for a reason), I will choose one word that I want to define my year, a theme of sorts. One word that embodies the kind of person I want to become. One word that reflects what God has been doing in my heart and life, or more importantly, one word that anticipates what God WILL do in me. One word to center myself throughout the coming year.
I’ve actually never chosen a word of the year before. Technically someone gave me one back in 2014. The word was thrive. Initially, it seemed to have no connection to my life and I nearly forgot about it. So to my surprise, it actually became quite significant. When I faced a persistent spell of not feeling well, causing me to fear I was relapsing into an illness I’d been released from for over a year, that word represented hope. I knew that I could trust God that if I needed to walk back into that darkness, He could make me thrive even there. Not in success or worldly gains, but as a person, as His daughter, I could thrive, and that helped me to walk forward without fear. Then the word thrive played a key role was when my husband and I had to make a decision for our daughter. My husband, without knowing the significance of that word for me, kept insisting that she would thrive in the decision we ultimately made.
It’s perhaps a little bit unusual to have someone give you a word, but without that experience, I’m not sure I would have entertained the notion of selecting my own word for the year. But this coming year, I’m excited to focus on a word that has already been gaining significance in my life.
If I handed you my journal and invited you to read, you would notice a pattern over time. I periodically question whether I am enough—it disguises itself as wondering whether I do enough as a mom/wife/friend, with worrying that my Christian life is too isolated and not making a Kingdom-impact, or feeling frustrated with the many goals I set for myself and fail to meet…but the real question hiding behind each of these concerns is whether I myself am enough.
I know the head-knowledge answer to that insecurity. I know the truth to combat the lies. But the problem is that the heart doesn’t operate on the same wavelength as the mind. What the mind knows the heart doesn’t always believe.
Over and over again God gently reminds me that He calls no one to greatness, but He calls us all to faithfulness. What matters first is that I have a heart that seeks His face, is willing to follow Him, even into the hard places, and is eagerly desiring to do the work He has established for me. When my heart is attuned to Him (instead of being consumed by the distractions of my own desires), what really matters is that I am FAITHFUL to the opportunities He places before me.
In my everyday life that translates to using words to encourage and challenge, be that in a note or even text to someone who needs the breath of God’s Words in their lives. It is writing not for the sake of recognition or making a name for myself, but being faithful to share the words God places in my heart. It is recognizing that I cannot control which foster children enter or exit my home, but I can be faithful to love the ones with me today. It is not mourning the passage of time or wishing for some future moment, but being faithful to fully engage in this present moment with my own children. It is not squandering my time on mindless activities, but being faithful to worship the Lord and sit at His feet.
Faithful, to me, speaks of simplicity, purpose, and focus. Not a reaching for something beyond, but an embracing of what is before me. An embracing of what GOD has set before me.
Yet the word faithful is not all about me. It is a reminder that God Himself is faithful, and because of that I can trust Him. My faithfulness WILL fail. But God’s faithfulness stretches to the skies (Psalm 36:5). Because of His faithfulness I can trust His plans for my life; because I can trust Him, I can be faithful to walk the road set before me even when I cannot see beyond the bend.
Won’t you join me this year? Take some time to reflect on this past year and dream about the one to come. Think about the person you are, the person you want to be, the opportunities before you, the truths you need to anchor in your heart, the words God has been whispering to your soul. Choose a word. Then do something with that word to help keep it before you throughout the year—share it with a friend and talk about it when you get together, write it on an index card where you will frequently see it, gather together verses or quotes that reinforce it, perhaps monthly pause to journal and reflect on how this word has worked its way into your life.
If you do choose a word for 2016, I’d love to read some comments about what you choose and why!