By Pamela Stricker
Around the end of the year, I begin contemplating a new word for the next year. It’s been my practice now for the last seven or eight years. I was inspired by the idea when I heard someone sharing about their “word” on the radio. I decided to check out the referenced website and have been doing it ever since.
This process has replaced the traditional list of New Year’s resolutions that tend to be broken by February and forgotten till the following January. This has been such a successful experiment for me.
Here’s how it works, from the website, myoneword.org:
Step 1: Determine the kind of person you want to become
The first step is to simply take some time and decide what kind of person you want to be at the end of this year. This goes beyond simply being healthier and wealthier, but it must drive deep into your soul. What about the condition of your heart? What about the person that God Himself has created you to be?
Step 2: Identify the characteristics of that person
Get a picture of that person and then simply identify their major characteristics. Is that person gentle? Is that person generous? What are the qualities of the person you want to become?
Step 3: Pick a word
Once you have a list of the characteristics, simply pick a word. There might be 15 things that you want to change, but you must resist the temptation to promise you will do them all. Instead, simply commit to ONE WORD.
This will provide you with a lens to see the changes you need to make, as well as a way to determine whether or not change is actually happening.
Understand that this process is hard, but staying focused on your word will help you to struggle in the right direction so that you can actually see God working in your life.
The changes have been significant over the years I have done this. I can look back and see that I am not the person I was when I started. The study of the word, exploring examples, facing the challenges that come and tempt me to give up on staying the course are all part of the journey.
And the challenges do come! You have probably heard it said not to pray for patience because patience is produced by going through trials.
I think every time a person begins to choose a better life, challenge can be expected.
I chose the word “gentle” a few years ago (much to my husband’s delight), and my desire to become a more gentle person was challenged almost daily. Change didn’t happen until I quit giving in, determined to change, prayed for change, studied and “ate” the word, till it became part of who I am.
So, this year, I am choosing the word “joy.” I am a pretty joyful person usually, but I want to know a deeper sense of joy in my life. I don’t want the circumstances around me to dictate my joy or lack thereof. I am not talking about being happy … happy depends on circumstance or what others do to you. I want that calm assurance and settled-down peace even when all hell is breaking loose around me.
It’s even better to do this exercise with a friend. I have shared the experience with some of my close friends, and we meet and discuss our journey with our one word. We encourage and pray each other through to the end of the year.
I would love to hear from you if you choose your word for 2016. Let’s make changes together.
In the meantime, here’s another word I don’t want you to forget … please pass the “Salt!”
Pamela Stricker is the publisher of Salt magazine and The Lima News. Reach her at email@example.com.