Every year I choose a word--just one word--to focus on throughout the year. And every year I am amazed at how that word challenges me and helps keep me on track.
Even though I didn’t share it with many people outside of my family, my word for 2016 was "Finish." At the start of 2016, I had no agent, no publisher, and no book contract. But I had an idea for a book that wouldn't let me go. I had talked about it so much that my family was sick of it, so I decided that 2016 was going to be the year that, no matter what, I would finish the book.
No matter that I didn't have an agent. (I still don't!)
No matter that I didn't have a publisher or a contract.
I was determined to finish the book.
And friends, I am happy--no, ELATED!--to tell you that I finished. (Lots more to tell you about that later.)
Of course, I'm still not really finished. I will have tons of edits to work through once my publisher gets it back to me, but, for my "One Word" purposes--my promise to myself and to my family--I have completed the task of finishing the book I've wanted to write for 15 years. But that one word kept me on track.
This year I didn’t know what my word was going to be. I usually don’t try to manufacture a word to fit my thinking—it seems to work best when I just pray about it and see what God keeps putting in front of me.
Except this year, I didn’t have a word when the calendar turned. I didn’t have a word even a couple of days into the new year. I kept praying that the Lord would just show me the word He wanted me to focus on because I knew that once I “heard” it or felt it or whatever happens, I’d know it.
Remember the game Connect4 where you put the checkers into a slot and they fall down with a satisfying “click” as they hit the checker below it? Yeah, it’s like that. When the word falls into my heart, I just know it.
So, a few days into January, a word seemed to click into place in my heart. Except it didn’t. When I felt it, I thought, “No, that can’t be it,” and I ignored it for a couple of days.
Until I heard it again. And then I read a Facebook post about someone who chose that word last year and how God had surprised her with it. I started to wonder . . . could this really be the word I’m supposed to focus on this year?
It couldn’t be! There’s no way! This is NOT the word I need!
I kept arguing with myself (or God?) and refusing to accept this word. I even prayed, through tears, that this would not be my word this year. I asked God to give me another word. I told him I’d keep praying about it until January 15 and see if something else (pretty please?) could be my word.
Then, over the past weekend, as my husband and I were enjoying a nice dinner out, I confessed to him that I thought I had gotten a word, but that it felt like the wrong word. To my surprise, he didn’t laugh. He didn’t tell me that, yeah, I’d gotten it wrong. He just listened and said that this could be interesting.
And so, three days after my self-imposed deadline to God (how foolish I am!), I’m giving in and sharing my One Word for 2017.
See?! Isn’t it weird? Isn’t it crazy? I don’t need rest! I, of all people, have a life that has plenty of rest built into it.
Besides that, I really despise laziness. Just ask my kids. “I can’t stand lazy children!” was my mantra as they were growing up. And rest, to me, seems like it could be taken as lazy—the last thing I want to be.
And yet, there is was. Click. Just like the checkers in the Connect4 game, God placed that word on my heart. I’ve decided rather than fight it, I’ll just go with it and see what happens.
Here’s what I’m already learning. Rest does not equal laziness; they are two completely different mindsets. God has given us rest as a gift—we need rest each night so that we won’t be lazy the next day.
I’m also learning that rest has two different meanings: to rest (as in lie down) and to trust. And here’s where I think God may have something to teach me.
See, I may have a wee bit of a control problem. I like to determine outcomes even before I attempt to do something, which is why parenting felt like such a crap shoot—there are no guarantees that our kids will turn out OK. I needed to trust God with that one while still doing my best.
I’ve got a few things cooking this year that I’d like to control, and yet, already, I sense God telling me to rest in Him because the outcome isn’t up to me—it’s up to Him. I can’t make people attend the events I’m planning. I can’t make people buy my book (ahem) when it comes out.
And when it comes to my kids, God is already speaking to me about their lives and their futures, which, thank goodness, will look much different from mine—I have nothing to say about it. And so I rest in His good plan for my children.
I think it’s going to be an interesting year with this unexpected word in the forefront of my mind. I have no idea what God has in store with it, but I know He’s got a lot to teach me about resting in Him. Trusting. Holding on. Staying the course, even when it doesn’t make sense.
God’s got this. I just need to rest.
Will you join me on this journey of resting in God this year? And if you choose a word for the year, will you share it in the comments? I’d love to hear from you!