I first read about this idea from one of my favorite bloggers, Ann Voskamp, over on her blog, A Holy Experience. She references the book, "My One Word: Change Your Life with Just One Word" as her inspiration and direction with this exercise. I have read many of Ann's blog posts, and one thing I love about Ann's writing is her use of words, many of them, constructed as a poetic prose to prevail upon my hard, broken, needy heart. Yet, she has chosen just ONE word for her year the last several years. Her word for 2014 is "Jesus." Seems a little like cheating to me. How can you go wrong with that one?
**That was my first and likely last criticism of this godly lady, even if it was "tongue in cheek."
My "California friend, Bethany" (as I refer to her because while I have never met her in real life, she is a friend to me, and she lives in California) mentioned on her facebook status that she has been thinking it over as well. What will her one word be for 2014? California Bethany, like me, likes to use a lot of words to describe a circumstance or her feelings. This is, in a small way, why I feel we are kindred spirits. And, I thought, "If these ladies can narrow down to one word, so can I!" Why must I turn everything into a competition? Goodness gracious, some habits die hard.
Other friends of mine have jumped in on this exercise. My friend, Danielle, announced on instagram her ONE word for the year, "Blessing."
And so, I have been thinking about this one word idea.
The first word that came to me was, "RUN," not in the sense of run from one's problems, even though I am often tempted to do that at times, but rather in the literal sense of the word. In the past 6 months, God has given the gift of running back to me after going nearly 6 years without running regularly. With an instable and weak spine, I thought regular running was out of the cards for me for good. Nevertheless, I gave it another try this summer and into the fall. I had been running on average 3 times a week and had worked up to 5 mile runs. Nearing the end of 2013, I began to think about trying for a half marathon in 2014. It's been something I have wanted to do for a long time.
I mentioned it to my hubby, started looking up races I could sign up for in 2014 along with training schedules. Running on a mixture of head strong intentions, 4 days worth of Christmas goodies and worn out sneakers, I ended up throwing my back out at the end of December after getting greedy by going for a 6.5 mile run. More than a week later, I'm still icing it and typing this from the floor.
All that to say, I am uncertain about choosing the word, "Run" for 2014. I will still pursue the half marathon as much as I am able, but I have to recognize my road to the half may be a long and often interrupted course.
The next word that I thought of was "ABSORB" as in absorbing others', particularly my husband's, offenses. Ever listen to or read something that sticks with you for life? A message John Piper gave entitled, "Blessed are the Meek" from Matthew 5 contained one line that has stayed with me years later. It was, "Meekness is the power to absorb adversity and criticism without lashing back." I am not meek, especially when it comes to absorbing any hint of criticism my hubby throws my way. I lash back like a lion, ferociously. This needs to change in order for LA and me to move forward in our communication and love for one another. So, "absorb" seems like it could be a good fit.
As I thought over "absorb", however, I sensed its focus was on me, my behavior, my ability to be Christ like or inability moreso. And, the thought of spending concentrated, mental and emotional energy on changing my heart and subsequent behavior that oozes out of that heart discouraged me. Quickly, I recalled the changes God has been bringing about in my life, and I realized I want to walk away from old patterns of self focus, of 'law bound' effort and self atonement. Choosing a word like absorb, I fear, would cast me daily into that pit again of self loathing and defeat. No thanks.
"Forgive" was the next word that jumped into my mind because I have some bitterness and hard feelings toward some folks, and I need to forgive and move on, whatever that is supposed to look like. Honestly, I have no idea what to even aim for with this one, how to go about it, and all that I mentioned in the previous paragraph again applies here.
"Rebuild"? As in rebuild my relationship with my husband, my Lord, His church. There has been much upheaval in our lives in the past year, and we are ready to rebuild, shift paradigms and patterns of thinking, being and doing. I still feel a little unsure on some of the foundation work, however. I know that Christ is our Bedrock, our sure Foundation. That has not changed. He remains the same. His love endures. He is still our all in all. But, some of the ways we have done life for so long are changing, and we need to rebuild. eventually. I am just not certain we have all the foundation pieces in place quite yet. "Rebuild" feels a little premature still.
"Pray"? Prayer is good. It is always a good thing. Prayer accomplishes more than anything else I could do. Prayer could be all encompassing.
HEAL? because I have felt particularly broken this last half of 2013.
OPEN? to what and where and to whom God wants us to bless in 2014.
GRATEFUL? because as A.Voskamp says, "it always precedes the miracle", and I need some miracles in my life.
GRACE? because I have lived 32 years of life on earth professing to be a believer in Grace-Incarnate, Jesus Christ, and I don't really know that I "get grace", on the receiving or giving end.
TRUTH? because I am seeking afresh God's truths. What does it look like to follow Jesus who says HE is the TRUTH?
READ? because I always want to be reading more than I do.
WRITE? because I always want to be writing more than I do.
ARITHMETIC... because....just kidding. That was just was a stream of consciousness move there. ha!
It is at this point in my post that I stopped and had my hubby read it. He looked at me questioningly, "So, what's your word going to be?" I ramble on about how I don't only want to write when I have a nicely packaged conclusion or life lesson to share, but when I am still in process. I want to write when I've got nothing.
Responding to that, LA shared with me that he has been thinking about a mantra for 2014. He is our "mantra maker", and he comes up with good ones that almost always reflect our life rather well. He's certainly the concise one among the two of us. And he said that as he prayed about 2014, the only thing that came to him was nothing.
We dialogued for a bit about this, puzzled, because for two task oriented, ambitious people, "nothing" does not sound all that appealing. It even sounds frightening. But, we both agreed that for us, for now, it sounds right on.
NOTHING. and in expanded form, "I've or We've got nothing."
Nothing in my hands I bring,
Simply to thy cross I cling;
Naked, come to thee for dress;
Helpless, look to thee for grace;
Foul, I to thy fountain, Lord, I fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.