I have had a rocky relationship with the one word for a year movement. For those unfamiliar, it is the notion of selecting a theme for the year ahead, often in lieu of a formal resolution.
Two years ago I was pregnant with OBrother and was looking ahead to a year filled with newborn stuff, two year old stuff, and two boys in diapers. That December as I was on the verge of a panic attack about my insufficiency for the task, God clearly spoke to me about His strength being sufficient, about the joy of the Lord being my strength. I knew that with Him in me, for me, before me, I had all the strength I could possibly need. That was the year I survived two babies in 21 months and ran a half marathon. Strength.
Last year, however, I tried to go it on my own a little bit. It was December 2011, I was coming down off of a great year defined by strength and I thought I could just pick a word that would be something I wanted to work on for myself. I chose “discipline” out of my own desire to lose weight that year and a generally well-intentioned desire to have greater self-control in a few different areas. Except I didn’t stop for a second to ask God what He wanted to work on in my heart, I just chose something that served my own purposes. It fizzled. It didn’t come to mind often and frankly I didn’t have any strong break-through or revelatory moments in regards to discipline. Overall it was meh.
Which would explain why I have sat on my hands these last couple of weeks when friends and fellow bloggers have started the conversations about one word. I hadn’t felt anything clearly put on my heart and mind from God and I didn’t feel like going the solo (and futile) route again. I wanted something not of my own choosing, and as January first came and went, I kind of thought that maybe God and I were just so over this whole one word thing.
Until this morning when He woke me up at 5:10am. Rolling around in my head were the replays of some scenes from the last couple of days. Not my finest moments, let’s just say. I could tell, re-thinking these situations, that my perspective was off. That in those moments, I had been lacking something. Gratitude, maybe? God, is it gratitude you want to work with me on? Joy? Focus?
I threw out “one words” until I thought maybe I was just making it all up in my tired daze. They all rang hollow.
Sleep. Can sleep be my one word, Lord? No? Darn.
I gave in, got up, and came down stairs. I grabbed a blanket and a few books: my Bible, my gratitude journal, the devotional book Jesus Calling. I could tell so clearly that He had orchestrated this moment to shake my shoulders and get inside my cluttered head. I wanted it to be a holy moment. I lit a candle and prayed for clarity.
I opened my devotional to today’s date and there, in Jesus Calling jumping out from the pages was my word.
Then I spent the rest of the hour reading different scriptures about peace. Y’all, it is all over. Go in peace, speak in peace, make peace offerings (see: leviticus and numbers), give peace, make covenants of peace, come in peace, seek peace, delight in peace, pray for peace, abide in peace, enter into peace, be overseers of peace, follow the path of peace, peace of the Spirit, preach peace, the peace of Christ is to rule our hearts…
I was especially struck by the fact that so many of the references to peace were active. Peace often seems to involve doing peace.Going, speaking, making, giving, coming… over and over I found that the peace of God was actively being done and sought. This is what I see for my year ahead.
Actively pursing peace during the turmoil, speaking peace through my words, finding peace in His presence, having peace that surpasses understanding, choosing peaceful parenting, bringing peace instead of confusion, having peace instead of anger.
Seek peace and pursue it. Psalm 34:14b
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Let’s chat: Do you have a word for this new year? How did you settle on it?
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