The last two years instead of making new years resolutions, I have chosen a word of the year. One word to guide the upcoming, new year. It’s strange how it’s worked too, because somehow I look back and see how relevant and pivotal those words have been.
I look back and wonder if I would’ve traveled the road the way that I did, without my little word.
That’s not to say the word has been on the front of my mind the whole year. Not at all. In fact, I wasn’t entirely sure what my word was this year until I looked back to see what I wrote down exactly one year ago. I am convinced, there couldn’t have been a better word for this year. You see, it’s not necessarily about the word. I believe there is something intrinsically rooted in the choosing of the word. It’s not about our commitment to it, as much as God’s commitment to us.
I believe with all my heart that God doesn’t waste a single thing. Every experience, every heartache and heartbreak, joy and sorrow can be used to mold us into the person He desires us to be, if we let it. Though we may forget the word as we go about our year and our trials and joys and suffering, He doesn’t.
For me, choosing a word is part of the surrender: to let Him have His way with me over the next year. I pray over it. I give it to Him to do with it, with me, what He will. I’ll be honest, it hasn’t been easy. But it’s been good.
For 2013, I chose renew. As the year went on, I thought perhaps I should have chosen an easier word! God decided to honor my choice and test my resolve. He challenged my belief that through hardship we are refined, molded and crafted to be made more fully into the person He designed us to be from the start. That year I was presented with challenges to test my conviction, my steadfastness and my faith.
There were times I felt I was walking around inside out. Everything I came in contact with hurt deeply. The pain of many years was trapped just beneath the surface of my life. So close to breaking free, and yet afraid to come out.
2013 was not an easy year, not by a long shot. But just as it was heavy, it was light. One of my favorite poets is Kahlil Gibran. I believe so much in his words, “Sorrow carves the heart to contain more joy.” To the extent that we experience sorrow and grief and pain, we will experience wonder and beauty and joy. It’s the flip side of the coin.
Filled with extraordinary moments, incredible joy and supernatural peace, the year marked the birth of freedom from decade old chains. A new beginning of sorts, a beautiful ending in a way. Looking back, renew was a good choice. A hard one, but so worth it.
2014 my word was intention. That my life would match my heart, and my heart would match my faith. The Lord knew how much I needed this word too.
This last year God has brought many challenges to test my intention. We don’t get to plan everything; some say that’s when God laughs at us. But there are small ways we can design our lives. That the course we take, the things we do, the things we say, the time we spend and the way we love, would be the result of a thing intended. A plan executed. A life well lived.
I can’t imagine a word I needed more this last year. A word that could have better guided me to choose wisely: when to go, when to stay, and when to say goodbye to things that were no longer good for me. This year I was presented with challenges to test my character, my resolve and my notions of fairness and justice.
There were times I just wanted to walk away. I wanted to run from everyone and every thing that wanted to strip just one more piece of me away. But choice after difficult choice, my life was intentionally pruned. Pruned of people and things that were no longer serving me or my family well. And with the pruning, God has brought so much fruit. My husband and I are enjoying the best season of our life.
As a result of intention, our lives have been pruned of some bad things, of course, but also of many good things that didn’t leave room for the right things. Our God is faithful. That doesn’t mean it will be easy, but we know His plans are for us.
This year I’m choosing the word trust.
My family is entering a season of change. We’re ready to take an adventure, to risk, to dream a little bit bigger, or different than we dreamed before. To step out before we’re ready. Before we know where we’re going, or what God has planned for us, we’re doing a few things that don’t really make sense.
As much as I believe His plans are far better than mine, sometimes I still want to pull it all back in. To stop the forward motion and just wait. Wait for a better plan…wait for something more sure before we risk. But what kind of faith is that? What kind of faith says I’ll wait until I know better? Or I won’t trust unless I’m sure?
So this year I’m going to stop worrying. I’m going to stop worrying and waiting about a future I cannot begin to know and start moving, believing and trusting that God has already gone before us and prepared the way. Worrying only creates the illusion of a problem that doesn’t even exist anyway! When we surrender worry and embrace trust, then we get to enjoy the journey knowing God will fulfill His promises because we BELIEVE He is who He says He is, and He can do what He says He can do.
Every year, so many of us propose to set new years resolutions and we barely make it through the first month before they’ve fallen by the wayside. The last two years have been marked by change. Change around me and change deep within me. I’m convinced it wasn’t because I was committed to remembering a word or sticking to a resolution, but because God had committed to remembering me. This year, choose a word. Together with God, in thought and prayer, present this year to Him. Ask for His guidance as you choose your word and then let Him direct it’s course. Let Him change you, from the inside out.
And if you feel like sharing, please tell us. What’s your word?