Relax and Let your One Word Choose You

Last year, my word for 2018 was a quote from D. L. Mayfield, "Here's to a 2018 full of digging deep(er) inner wells."

It was more than one word. It fit me perfectly. And I didn't find it until January 18. So you've got time.

This space between Christmas and New Years is when eveyone seems to be finding their one word for the coming year. Actually, this time we're in is the 12 Days of Christmas or Christmastide, and it extends all the way to Epiphany when the Magi found Jesus under his star. Did you know that may have taken almost two years? And they were not late!

Whether you enjoy this practice of choosing one word for the New Year or it only adds to the feeling of always being one step behind in this fast-moving world, try this - relax, and let your one word for 2019 find you. You are not late.

Sometimes, I find that hard to believe because, well, I am a girl with a hurried heart who often thinks she is the one to work everything out. I try not to be, I really do, yet I drift to the fast lane with my foot heavy on the gas pedal.

What do I miss with all of my rushing around? I don't see Jesus in an all-fired hurry in his life. And he was here to rescue the world. He took time with people, noticed their hearts. He took in the moment as if it were the one he was here for. He took time with God. Jesus-the-man came to know God's heart. There is something in Jesus' pace of human life that I can learn from. I am trying to put my finger on it's heartbeat. When I read about how Jesus moved through his life, I come up with words like unhurried, patient, fiercly attentive, humble, thoughful, wildly authentic, determined, trusting, loving, gritty, resilient, and watchful.

A few years ago, my one word for the year was "unhurried". It was a word that found me and still does sometimes. Macrina Wiederkehr in her book, A Tree Full of Angels, captures my desire to live with less hurry inside my soul in these words, "It is a pity, and I am less human and less holy for all of my racing around, yet I race on."

I am still trying to live an unhurried life because Jesus did. Jesus paused to meet the woman who anonymously touched the hem of his shirt, to have dinner with Zaccheus who climbed up in the sycamore tree, to show his wounds to Thomas who could not believe without seeing, to take a drink from the woman at the well who was looking for love in all the wrong places, and to woo me, the girl with a hurry-up heart. There is something in his taking time along the way that is so tender and roomy. There is something beautiful about the One no one made room for at his nativity who makes all kinds of room for us in infinity.

Oh, but that is Jesus' love. Macrina asks some questions that got me thinking about how God looks for me while I think I am the one looking for him,

"Who do we think is breathing in us? Where do we think this ache has come from? And has it ever crossed our minds that God, too, has a deep yearning for us?"

That is what I mean about your word finding you. I heard recently on The Open Door Sisterhood interview with Anne Bogel that our books find us at just the right moment. Your word is like that, and like Love, it is already looking for you.

Another year my word was "canvas" and I explored all kinds of creativity in my life and faith - taking art classes, painting, embroidering, and making homemade journals. I gave myself an extra dose of freedom to add creativity to my Sabbath-keeping. What a joyuful year after two full years of the word "cull", a word that definitely chose me. Eventally, I called it the beautiful cull. I am telling you this because every year's word is taken into the following years and folded in.

Last year, I was looking to dig deeper wells and I asked myself the question, "How is God wooing me?" I tried to notice just how particularly God was calling, meeting, and filling me right where I was in life. Here are just a few places where I noticed God wooing me,

  • in my oldest son and his family moving away to Georgia
  • at a cabin in Red River reading The Divine Conspiracy
  • in my oldest daughter and her family moving back to Oregon
  • in the birth of Little Cowboy
  • in my youngest son finding the grit to go back to school
  • in my youngest daughter's wedding to her high school sweetheart
  • on a 700-mile West Texas road trip with Mike's mama
  • in my friend, Jean, making time to spend with Mike's mama
  • in my first semester of Seminary
  • in meetings with my first Spiritual Director
  • at my ironing board
  • on daily walks in both sunshine and fog
  • in hard conversations with good friends
  • at a Georgia hospital for Fred's liver transplant
  • in a small brick house in Carmel-by-the-sea

Finding your word or phrase, or letting it find you, starts with open-hearted reflection. I wonder where God met you last year?

Finding your word might start with a quote that stops you dead in your tracks or keeps lingering long after you see or hear it. Maybe it is something you wrote in your journal or scribbled on the back of a receipt. Maybe it is an image clipped from a magazine. Or perhaps it begins with a good question that you don't yet know the answer to.

You could begin by asking yourself any number of good humble questions:

  • What season am I living in?
  • What brings tears?
  • What makes me smile before I realize it?
  • What makes me want to hide?
  • Where do I hurt?
  • Where am I stuck?
  • What am I thirsty for?
  • What do I keep thinking about, singing, or reading?

This year, after jotting down a few possibilities, the word that kept floating to the top of my heart was "windows". Once a word rises to the top, I head to the dictionary to get a working definition.

win-doh: an opening in a wall or vehicle to let in light or air, or both, commonly fitted with movable sashes containing panes of glass; a transparent pane; a period of time regarded as highly favorable for initiating or completing something. Origins: from Old Norse wind + eye.

I don't know yet exactly what it means in my life, but it sure seems interesting. Is it what I need to see or don't see? Is it how I am looking at life? Is it about looking in from outside or looking out from inside? Is it not about looking at all, but about opening or closing? There are so many parts to a window: sash, windowsill, frame, glass, and the way it opens. There are all kinds of windows: transom, sidelight, skylight, fanlight, single-hung, double hung, picture, true divided lite, porthole, and Palladian. Or maybe it is about windows of opportunity? Or about waiting by the window? Or a favorable time? Or more metaphorical as in "windows to the soul".

I am not meant to know yet. That is what this year ahead is for. The wonderful thing is that I have all year to explore "windows" with God. We will live it and see what happens - together. It will be our adventure and all along the way we'll be digging deeper inner wells.

Dear friend, if you're still waiting for your word/phrase/theme for 2019, you are not behind. You don't have to strive for it. Just spend a little time each day listening for it with an open heart. Jot it down and revisit it the next day to see if it sticks. Whatever your word might be, let it come to you like God's love which is already there and just needs room to rise. Give it space to bubble up and breathe. Relax, and let your one word find you.

When it arrives, scribble it down, tell a friend, mark it somehow. I am marking mine this year with a photo of the windowseat where I sit most mornings and where I write this to you now.


Here's to a 2019 full of windows with God. Cheers!

If you want to explore more about finding one word, read about canvas here.