Are you a New Years resolutioner? Do you love starting the New Year with a new list of possibilities? Perhaps you’re far more ambitious than I. Five years ago I did away with resolutions and adopted a single word instead. You can read about that process and journey here. Every year, the last days of December I do the same thing: reflect. I read the post I wrote one year ago as I looked forward into the now finishing year; remember what my word was, and how it manifested itself in my life. Last year my word was peace, and wow has it changed me.
As I reflect on those words and the progression of them I see something so much bigger and wiser than me. As I wrote here, the process isn’t about choosing a word, as much as it is allowing a word to choose you. Every year it never fails that at some point, I forget my word entirely. It, however, does not forget me.
I guess maybe it’s something like what Elizabeth Gilbert talks about in her book Big Magic. There’s magic in it. Wonder. There’s some kind of miracle that happens when we allow God to lead and direct us to a single word and, as we commit wholeheartedly to it, even on a subconscious level, it transforms us. It becomes us.
I can honestly say 2013 brought renewal. In 2014 my life and relationships became a matter of intention. 2015 demanded trust and taught me the power of surrendering to it; and 2016 has brought a peace I never knew existed. I couldn’t have imagined to even dream for the amount of peace I have in my heart. Right now, the word that keeps rising up in me is pursue.
It’s not a word I even think about. It’s how I know that it’s not me. It’s not what I want. It’s not what I think is right or best or even safe. The word He often chooses, and the timing of it, is certainly not easy. When you trust God’s leading, it is likely His words will not come lightly on a life. They usually come with trial and testing and hardship, which, somehow by only His divine magic, bring healing and light and so much joy.
But because I’m a word girl by heart, I have to find out what it means. Why might that word – pursue – be the word He is laying on my heart for this year? What stood out the most to me are these definitions:
- To carry further; advance;
- To take action, especially with the intention of sustained effort;
- To engage in; practice.
What gives me comfort with a challenging word like this is there is no end point. No destination. To pursue means merely to carry further. To practice, with sustained effort and intention, to end 2017 in a place further down the road than where I started. Somewhere deep in my soul I hear Him say: Pursue the path I have set before you. Pursue the desires of your heart. Pursue me. Pursue peace. Pursue love, generosity, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Pursue life. Dreams. Increase. Fruit. All these things He has given unto me, unto you. Will I pursue them? Will I pursue Him?
My word for 2017 is interesting to me for certain. It’s so active. Compared with the words of the last four years, this word feels entirely different. And yet, for the first time, maybe a little bit exciting too. I look back on the last five years and the work God has done not only in my life, and relationships, but in my heart. Who He is creating me to be.
Renew, intention, trust and peace had to come before pursue. They were deeply restorative words. Deeply restorative works. Even a year ago, I wouldn’t have been ready for a word like pursue. I was still afraid. Unsure. I felt broken in so many ways. But I don’t feel broken anymore.
Isn’t that simple truth a beautiful, glorious work of magic in itself?
It certainly feels so to me. These days, I feel led. Driven. Pushed from behind by a powerful force so much bigger and more beautiful than me. I can’t help but wonder what 2017 has in store with a word like pursue. I’m so excited to see the ways God grows and changes me from the inside out as He brings me challenges and opportunities to teach me more about who He is, and who He made me to be, as He teaches me to pursue the path He has laid before me. What a cool God we serve.
What’s your word?