One Word - 2016

My word for 2016 is. . .I don't know!

insk0r via flickr

When I got married, one of my bridesmaids gathered quotes and advice from the women at my bridal shower and put them into a book for me.  Many wise words fill those pages.  The card that has stuck out the most is the shortest - three words, written in my mother’s distinctive, left-handed cursive.  Actually, it was just one word repeated three times, from a woman who knows me so very well: Relax. Relax. Relax.  This card and her words have come to my mind often these past two months as I have pondered my guiding word for 2016. 

(Yes, this is my “one word for the new year” post (or at least part of it).  Yes, I know it’s almost March.  However, it’s not quite March, and last year, it was well into March before I got my “one word for the new year” post even drafted.  So I’ll call this a win.)

Part of my delay is that I’ve been resisting the words to which I’ve been most drawn.  The "words for the year" I have chosen in the past have always been active words.  It’s a goal right?  A resolution.  You want to get something done, or change a wayward part of yourself, or reform some section of the your world.  But instead of a go-get-‘em kind of word, I’m finding myself lingering over words like wholeness, restoration, and peace.

I’ve spent the last few years being extremely active and purposeful.  I am good at disciplining myself, I have that tool in my belt.  I can grit my teeth, buckle down, dig deep, yank on those bootstraps, and get things done.  I can usually keep doing The Next Right Thing, despite whatever is going on around me. 

What I have gained over the past few years is the ability to say yes to scary, challenging things.  I’ve moved out of state.  I’ve made friends with strangers just because.  I’ve started and led discussion and learning groups.  I've been led to talk about my faith with people like this woman who reported that she laid her "special" jewelry out under the full moon to "cleanse" it.  And I've leaned into the painful task of loving a child who didn’t yet know how to love back.  However.  Looking back over last year in particular, I also recognize my strength in the passive.  The word anchor in itself is a purposeful passive.  You drop anchor and hold.


This year held a lot of trauma, frustration, and heartache, and more than a few of my own mistakes . . . but when I was journaling reflectively as 2015 turned into 2016, I realized how proud I am of myself and my family, and of this year.  It was hard.  And messy.  Let’s not forget messy.  Most of it did not go as I wanted or hoped.  Still, I find myself looking over it lovingly, with a kind of serenity and unexpected accomplishment.  I see endurance and perseverance, yes, but many moments of joy and triumph that grew out of simply praying and waiting.  Instead of the facing of difficult challenges, the main reason I feel so content with how last year went was because of the daily minutia, the moment by moment capturing of my thoughts and turning them upward to my Jesus, which eased the burden of all that I carried.  I’m left with a sense of compassion for myself, and humble pride that says, yes, that was the best I could do and it was good enough.

I want more of that.

And so I keep asking, Lord, which word do you want to echo in my life this upcoming year?


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