One Word

As the end of the year approaches, it’s natural to reflect on 2015 and to dream about what 2016 will hold.  I was introduced to a new tool for doing this, One Word.

I always have about 50 things I want to accomplish or am aware that I need to improve upon.  One Word helps me take all of those ideas and condense them into a single word to focus on for the coming year.  I both love and hate this idea.  On the positive side, it allows for focus and concentration. Over the past two years, I’ve identified “themes” of my life, which could be summed up in one word each – fellowship (2014) and service (2015).  But on the other hand, it sometimes feels impossible to sum up all of my aspirations in a single word.  I went though the process of identifying my One Word outlined in the book, but I actually cycled through several different words before settling on one.  Let’s look at the runners-up first:

Less/Simple

I am moving toward a season of less.  On Monday, I am moving into a furnished studio in Logan Square, which means there should, in theory, be very little that I need to take with me.  I want to spend less money on materialistic things that I don’t truly need and to be able to give away more of my money to good causes and to my church’s Unfinished initiative over the next two years.  I want to simplify and downsize the physical, metaphorical, and spiritual clutter in my life.  I want to remember my experiences in Cambodia and to remember the things I’ve seen in documentaries like Living On One Dollar.  I want to put my needs into the proper context of what is truly important to God – to discern between need, like, and want.    I want to have the physical, mental, and financial space to live the way the Lord wants me to.

Enough/Adequate

“Adequate”

  • : enough for some need or requirement

  • : good enough : of a quality that is good or acceptable : of a quality that is acceptable but not better than acceptable

Adequate in particular, was very challenging for me.  As a lifelong perfectionist, adequate screams mediocrity, and I was very resistant to making my whole next year be about trying to live up to mediocrity.  But in the Merriam-Webster definition of adequate, I quickly found a more bearable, but similar word – enough.  Enough has so many uses and contexts.  I am enough.  Jesus is enough.  I have enough {insert item here}.  When it comes to bad habits or poor choices, I could scold myself with, “Enough!”  Enough is about not striving for or coveting more than I need.  It is a measure of what is good and acceptable, and it is content to be that – it does not need to be perfect or the best or the most.

Seek

I really thought this was going to be my word – I even had several Bible verses lined up to support my choice of this word for this season.

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.  —Matthew 6:33

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  –Colossians 3:1

You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me with all your heart.  –Jeremiah 29:13

But the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the Word, and it proves unfruitful.  –Mark 4:19

So often, I get sidetracked because I let the world dictate my priorities and values.  It is a constant struggle to pause and consider a kingdom perspective before I make the choices I do on a daily basis.  And what a great umbrella word – so much falls under the directive to seek God’s kingdom first.  But, after some more time went by, I arrived at my word for 2016, which is…

Steadfast

If you know me, you know that I tend to get really excited about things and dive in head first.  However, my initial enthusiasm then starts to wane, and then I begin to wonder if it’s the right thing, and then I find other new exciting things and may jump ship to go do something else instead.  As much as it pains me to admit, I’m never one to shy away from initially jumping on board, but I do have a struggle with grinding it out and seeing things through to the end.  I’ve gotten better about this as I’ve gotten older, but it continues to be an area I need to grow in.

Some of the definitions of steadfast include:

  • resolutely or dutifully firm and unwavering
  • firmly fixed in place
  • not subject to change

During my quiet time, I’ve been working my way through the Old Testament, most recently the books of Samuel and Kings.  One of the things I’ve noticed is a phrase that seems to be found exclusively in the Old Testament – “not to turn aside, not to the left nor the right.”  It exhorts God’s people not to be distracted, detoured, or deterred from walking with God.  In the same way, there are literally dozens of references in the Bible to “standing firm.”  I think this year needs to be an exercise in my being steadfast in following through with what God has laid out for me.  I am moving to Logan Square to help with the new campus, which means I am committed to this for at least one year.  I have made a financial commitment that is sure to stretch me to my church’s Unfinished initiative over the next 2 years.  This is not about pursuing my spiritual “flavor of the week,” but about remaining steadfast in my faith and my commitments to the Lord.  I am incredibly excited about this move, but I know that there will be challenges, and perhaps even times where I wonder if I made the right choice.  But in those moments, I can refer back to my One Word verse, which is:

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.  –1 Corinthians 15:58

I created a little map of some concrete ways that I plan to do this, utilizing some of the concepts I learned back when I was going to graduate school for sport psychology (another commitment I failed to see through to completion).  I set process goals to complete daily or weekly, and outcome goals which should be the end result if I follow through with my process goals consistently.  I also threw in some steps I’m taking for more general personal growth, which include taking a six week writing class, taking the 15 week Perspectives class at my church, and (hopefully) going on a mission trip to Jordan this summer to care for Syrian refugees.

Maybe one of my words (first choice or runner-up) resonated with you, or maybe none of them quite seemed to fit.  What will your One Word for 2016 be?

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