Do you choose a word of the year each year? I have the last few years and it’s interesting. The word I choose is something I pray about and a word I try to reflect on throughout the year to remember why things that are happening in my life are happening and how they are working around what God wanted to do in my life during a particular year.
I’ll be honest, though, I often forget what my word was half way through the year and when I go back and look at it, it helps to ground me again and remind me what I had hoped for the new year but also what God had planned for me (among many other things, of course).
I heard a sermon this weekend where the pastor said God had us choose our word for the year to help us establish before the year even began what we needed to focus on, no matter what the year threw at us. That made me try to remember what my word for 2020 was. And guess what. I had forgot! I went to the blog and searched it and ironically the word was “renew.”
The word for this year should have been napalmed, I thought to myself.
But then I remembered what happens after a fire in the forest. The fire burns everything down.
And then new life begins again — restarts, regrows, and RENEWS.
My life the last few years has been leveled and in some ways taken down to the roots, turned upside down and become unrecognizable.
I’ve hated just about every moment of it.
I miss my old life.
I miss having friends.
I miss being connected to family.
I miss family who have passed on.
I feel lost on the ocean without a lifeboat many days.
But this weekend I started to think that maybe God had to burn it all down to 1) bring me back to him and 2) restart a new, better life.
See I am doing a new thing, he says in Isaiah 43:18-19
And sometimes to do that new thing, he has to remove the old. Pulling out the old can hurt, can be confusing, and it can be very disorienting. To grow new life, though, the ground needed to be cleared.
Continuing in that line of thinking, I decided to re-share my post from the beginning of the year when I chose my word for the year. If you haven’t picked a word for the year, it’s not too late. Pray about it and maybe God will show you his plan for the rest of the year and that plan will move forward despite what is going on in the outside world.
Originally published Jan. 1, 2020
Do you start your new year off with a word you hope and plan will define that new year?
I’ve been doing that for a few years now, a tradition that started with my brother who was doing it with someone else on a blog. I really don’t think about the word that much during the year, to be honest, but sometimes I will remind myself of the word I chose (or feel was given to me) and redirect my attitude. It’s also interesting to look back at the end of a year and see how the world aligned with what happened that year.
Last year my word was “contentment.”It took me several months into 2019 to reach the point of contentment in some situations in my life, however. I was not content with the loss of (or changes in) friendships at all last year, or with our traditionally difficult financial situation. But, over time, toward the end of the year, I started to settle in with the idea that friendships I had once thought would be around for a long time to come had faded and that we may never be rich, but somehow we seem to pull through and pay all our bills, even if it requires some sacrifices.
A couple of years ago I chose the words “peace” and “simplicity.” Everything in my world was not peaceful or simple during that year but there were periods of peace and simplicity at least. Decisions were also made with those words at the forefront of my mind, as much as possible anyhow. To keep with the sentiment behind the words I also cut out some people and aspects of my life that created little more than stress.
Another year I chose the word “restoration” because a lot in my life needed to be restored that year. The year I chose “reconciliation” we seemed to be reconciled with family but by the end of the year that had crumbled and they returned to only contacting us when they wanted something (usually transportation somewhere).
This year I am choosing the word “renew” because my life needs new energy – big time and in many areas, including my relationship with God, my relationship with family, my role a teacher for my kids, my health, my diet, my career (such that it is..or whatever it is), and my spiritual well being. That is a long list, but, really, my entire life needs an overhaul. My children’s lives also need renewal and one of the biggest areas where they need renewal are in their friendships. My daughter, 5, needs friends, period, and my son, 13, needs much better friends than he has now.
I am using the definition of renewal that is “the replacing or repair of something that is worn out, run-down, or broken.” Not the definition of starting something back up again – unless I apply that definition to my life in general. I am broken. Physically for sure and in some ways emotionally and spiritually. I need to hit the refresh button in my life and revitalize my diet, my exercise, my mind, my spirit.
I am tired.
I am physically tired but somedays I’m not sure if I am physically tired because I am emotionally and spiritually tired or if I’m physically tired because of something going on with my health. I have hypothyroidism, so that does make me tired. I seem to be in the midst of perimenopause, so that makes me tired. I may, or may not, have an autoimmune disease, so that makes me tired. My vitamin d is low (which may be related to one of the possible health issues I have) so that makes me tired too.
But I think some days I am tired because I think too much and my mental exhaustion translates into physical exhaustion. I watch too many sermons, trying to incorporate it all into my life in one fell swoop, instead of just watching one and meditating on that one sermon all week. I follow too many social media sites that offer encouragement, which I know sounds silly. How can you receive too much encouragement? But, when you try to apply it all at once like I do points from the sermon, it can become too much.
In other words, sometimes there are too many voices in my head and I need to silence them so I can hear God’s.
“Just…ssshhh. Let me think. Let me hear.” That’s what I want to say to all the voices.
“Let me try to figure this out before ya’ll start yelling at me about how to get my health back on track; how to get closer to God; how to improve my spiritual walk; what I should eat to feel better; who I should watch for spiritual guidance; what I should/shouldn’t be saying to/doing with my children.”
I just can’t listen to it all anymore.
I need renewal and I need it with a little less noise.
That’s why five days ago I started a complete social media fast that I hope will force me to focus on the areas of my life I need to work on. Health is certainly at the top of that list because, as I mentioned above, I am tired. My muscles hurt. I am winded from climbing the stairs most days. And, yes, I am grossly over the weight I should be for my short stature.
I do not eat fast food. I do not eat bread. I do eat some sugar. I do not eat regularly or include enough protein with each meal. And I do not exercise because – did I not mention this yet? – I am TIRED!
However, I do know that exercise can help with that as well, so I hope to incorporate at least some walking this year and go from there. To be honest, though, I’m so tired today (a few days before that lovely Aunt Flo comes) that even writing “I plan to walk more this year” makes me feel like a blooming hypocrite. I don’t know if I really do “plan” to walk more, but I “want” to walk more. How about that?
Other words I could adopt this year: reinvigorate and refresh. I need to be reinvigorated and I need to hit a refresh button. Part of that refresh we hope will come by selling this house and moving to a new one. Leaving this house won’t leave behind the hurts we’ve experienced while living in this town. It won’t change that family on my husband’s side have barely spoken to us in years and somehow blame us even though we tried to reconnect but were always told “We’re too busy for you.” Moving will not change many things, but we see it as a type of restart – a chance to make some changes for the better.
That restart started for us in April of last year when my husband started a new job, 40 minutes from where we live now, and opened up a door to an entirely new experience for him. The rest of the family is ready for some changes and new experiences too so right now we are praying we can sell this house, buy the one we already have an offer on and “get out of dodge”, so to speak.
So how about you? Do you choose a word of the year? A word to help guide you throughout the year, not pressure you like a resolution? A word to grow with you as you step through each day? Let me know in the comments.
If you are interested in choosing a word and would like some guidance on how to do it (even if it just for yourself and not to announce to your readers or publically) check out The Dolly Mama’s post, How To Choose Your Word of the Year (helpful reminders and simple steps)…Find Out Mine