There are spindly pine needles rising from the carpeting like tiny daggers aimed at stocking feet. I should hoist the vacuum cleaner from the basement and take care of it, but this mounting pressure to pick a word for the year has me glued to the recliner like a woman with a deadline.
Last year’s word came effortlessly. Had it not, I absolutely would have forsaken the idea altogether. It was a mind-boggling year.
I read an article on picking a word of the year last winter, and while I’d picked a Bible verse and name of God for the New Year many times, I’d never picked just one word. Last year on the couch, I didn’t have to pray about it, deliberate over it, or find a commentary to lead me to it.
When the Word Comes Floating Down
Last year my word floated in, just like the old Sandra Bullock movie: Hope.
And with that one word, the words of Hebrews 6:19 flashed through my mind. On that day I claimed them for myself, my family, my unborn child, my temporary suffering: “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil.”
And really, who doesn’t need a good anchor for the soul?
Some commentators note that in the original language, the word for hope denotes a sense of expectation with pleasure.
And when things get tough, don’t we all need more than just a sense of expectation? Couldn’t we all use a little more expectation with pleasure?
Hope is not merely a destination at the end of a long road. Hope is a Savior that walks the road with me.
When You Struggle as You Look Ahead
A year later, I can say that I have encountered Jesus as my Hope in transforming ways. I can also admit that I have no worldly clue of what might make a good word for the next year.
Thoughtful posts from friends seem so much more spiritual as they select their well-thought-out words. I compare myself and come up short. It’s hard to predict what this next year might hold.
Maybe you can relate. Perhaps the idea of picking a word or a verse feels overwhelming. Maybe you’re like me: For a decade, you picked your phrase – just so you could say you had one – and the only times it ever crossed your mind that year were the times when other people talked about their phrases.
If you find yourself among the wordless warriors this New Year, don’t lose heart. Instead, let’s look at these words:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.”
— John 1:1-3
Choose This One Word for the Year
What if we simply committed to make Jesus our one word? After all, he is the Word.
And when troubles arise this year, we lift our eyes to Jesus, our One Word.
When we are grateful, we lift our eyes to our One Word.
When the race feels long, we lift our eyes to our One Word.
On the darkest days, we lift our eyes to our One Word.
When despair threatens to destroy us, we lift our eyes to our One Word.
Your Word for the Year Really Might Change You
I wonder if, in doing this, our One Word might become the true anchor for our souls. I wonder if we’d stop turning to chocolate or Netflix or the advice of others or perfectionism or shopping. This just might be the One Word that changes everything.
If you are stuck on a word or a name or a verse this year, will you join with me in whispering this One Word today: Jesus. Let’s utter this Word ten thousand times this year and see if he does not change us.
Written by Stacey Pardoe
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on Stacey Pardoe