Years before it became the trendy thing to do, I had a word.
Now, everyone it seems, chooses a word for the upcoming year. It’s a ‘one word’ movement. Choose a word to hold onto, to embrace, to put into action throughout the New Year. It’s kind of like a resolution yet not.
I worked for several years for a Christian non-profit organization and at year’s end, our executive director hosted a lovely Christmas party for staff and volunteers at her home. Delicious food spread out on her festive table. Laughter pealed throughout her living room as we exchanged white elephant gifts. The joy of camaraderie filled our hearts.
But the activity I think we anticipated the most was getting ‘our word.’
Our director fervently prayed beforehand about which words she would write on slips of paper. Every year the Lord gave her words that anyone would love to get – words like joy. But sometimes words like sparkle were included that would make us scratch our heads in bewilderment. Or sometimes a word like trust would even give us serious pause and a catch in our spirits.
We passed around a basket with the folded slips of paper (no peeking allowed) and each person pulled out one piece of paper and ‘chose’ a word in this way. We didn’t think about it or carefully consider what word we’d like to have for the next year or select the words ourselves like everyone does now. No, we were given the words in what seemed like a random way.
But the words were never random. Instead those words came to fruition throughout the year and manifested themselves in some way. The next year, we once again gathered at our director’s home and before we plucked new words out of that familiar basket, we each had the opportunity to share how last year’s word had revealed itself in our lives.
We shared a lot of laughter and tears as we told our year-long stories of our word. I have to confess that often I hoped for what I thought would be an easy word but that usually did not come to pass. My random words that didn’t prove random at all were things like growth and strength, and one particular year, I was given the word peace.
Most folks would be grateful for a word like peace. Isn’t that what we all hope for? A peaceful, serene year. Sounds good, right?
But as soon as I opened that folded piece of paper and read the word peace, I sensed that something big was coming my way. Something so big that I would need extraordinary peace to get through it. The kind of peace you just can’t summon up on your own. The kind of peace that passes all understanding. The kind of peace that only comes from relying and trusting Jesus as your Savior, Redeemer, and Friend.
And, call it what you will, intuition or spirit or God’s whispering in my ear, whatever I sensed that day did come to pass. Halfway into that year, I received the kind of health diagnosis that puts fear into everyone’s thoughts. Both my parents had fought that dreaded disease and my mother had succumbed to its fierce attack several years earlier.
Was I going to be its next victim? My son was heading into his senior year of high school, one daughter was in college, and another was launching her career in her chosen field. Even though they were grown, I felt that they needed me, my husband needed me, and my aging widowed father needed me. Was I going to be around to see them through the next stages of life?
Preparing for surgery, total fear gripped my mind and heart. Anxiety washed over me and I relinquished myself to near panic. But then, something happened to change that. A small group of friends who loved and cared for me laid their hands upon me and prayed as I was anointed with oil.
That’s when it happened. I could feel a huge hard as rock ball of turmoil and fear literally rising up within me making its way to my throat. I felt the need to open my mouth and gasp out loud and honestly, it truly felt as if that horrible fear and apprehension physically left my body and mind in that instant.
In its place came a sudden calmness. A sense of serenity. Tranquility replaced terror. I felt peace. Total peace. The peace that only comes from God.
I don’t know why the Lord spared me when so many others suffer horribly from one health condition or another, and to be honest, sometimes I struggle with that survival guilt. But the reason is for God to know, not me. All I know is that He granted me His complete and utter peace.
My malady was detected in its early stages and I did not endure much pain or suffering. For that I will always be grateful and give thanks to Him who heard and answered prayers on my behalf.
But I also give thanks still all these many years later for that one word – peace. The word that was my word for that particular year.
That’s why I wrestle with choosing one word for myself in this trend of one word for the new year. What word should I choose? What word is truly the one that the Lord wants me to have? What word do I NEED to have?
Receiving a word from the basket in my friend’s living room ended years ago and since then I’ve tried to choose my own one word. I pondered and contemplated and prayed, yet no particular word would surface for me. So I would randomly select a word I would like to choose like joy. Or thankfulness.
And like those New Year’s resolutions that eventually fade away, I’ve found those one words didn’t resonate with me like those ‘random’ ones chosen for me did.
So I don’t think I’ll be cherry-picking one word for this new year which lies before me. I’ll just stick to doing what I do – choosing to live my life with purpose while serving my Lord and Savior.
“Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.” ~ Jonathan Edwards