I’ve posted before about how I am not a fan of New Year’s resolutions. I used to work at a gym, so I have seen first hand how useless they are. You start off so gung ho that you annoy everyone around you, and then you just fade back to your old habits. Changing your life is hard, even when it’s necessary.
Apparently I’m not the only one who feels this way. A few years ago I began to hear about the idea of having a one-word focus for the year instead of resolutions. Basically, you pray and ask God to reveal one word to you that you can focus on for the year, then you just pick one. Some people say that they have a strong sense of what word God has for their year, while others experience less direction and make a more self-guided choice. Then, for the entire year, you think about that word and how you can put it into practice. I don’t know if you get better results, but I do know you feel less discouraged, because it’s never too late to get back on track with your word.
My first experience with this came at a retreat I attended. On the first day, the leaders of the event invited us to pray and ask God to give us a word for the weekend. I closed my eyes, and said, “Lord, I don’t want to put words in your mouth. This has to be obvious if it’s from you.” Instantly I thought of the word empty. Seeing as how I was hoping for something like peace, calm, or relaxation, I knew that empty was not my idea. In my self-centered mind I decided that work, grad school, and other obligations had left me empty, and that God was going to refresh my spirit and I would leave the retreat feeling full. I was wrong again. By the end of the long weekend I understood that I had arrived full: full of self, full of fear, full of responsibilities and concerns that were not mine to shoulder. As I spent that beautiful fall weekend with my friends, I felt myself letting go, and I vowed to make some changes in my life, to empty myself of me and take on more of Jesus.
Last year I prayed again and asked for a word for 2016. Again, I wanted something pretty, but what I got was open. Ugh. I’m a good, stoic, Midwestern Scandinavian woman. We’re hard workers and good cooks (in general), but we’re not real touchy-feely (OK, some are. My one sister is a sweet, empathetic crier, but I’m more of the emotionally wary Scandinavian stereotype). It was hard. And while I didn’t undergo any dramatic personality changes, I did open up and talk about things I wouldn’t have otherwise.
This year my word is honor. Again, it wasn’t what I was looking for per se, but it fits. It actually came to me in a strange way. I was watching a video of a pop up sale that Made New Co. was having, and I saw some cute key necklaces on turquoise ribbons. I asked what they said, and was slightly disappointed that they said “honor.” I associate honor with the commandment to honor your father and mother, or with military service. But the necklaces were cute and a great price, so I ordered them anyway. By the time they came in the mail, I knew that honor was going to be my word in 2017. It was just stuck in my head like a catchy tune.
So that’s my one word revolution for 2017 – honor. I am focused on being mindful about acknowledging birthdays, speaking the compliments I usually just think to myself, writing thank you notes, and being an all-around encourager. In 2017 I will work on putting others first, making my husband and son feel loved, and lifting up prayer needs. After all, Matthew 22:34-40 tells us:
“Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: ‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’ Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’”
Do you have a word for 2017? Share it in the comments!