I can’t remember the first time I read about someone choosing a “word of the year” to represent their mission for the upcoming new year, but I do remember thinking it was a bit simplistic — maybe even a little cheesy. One word to sum up my mission for the year? What about all the myriad things on my new year’s resolutions list? How do these goals boil down to just one word?
Then I started to see it everywhere: “What’s your word for the year?” people were asking on social media. Bloggers were posting about it. Photo memes were circulating. As the “word of the year” started to feel trendy, I was even less inspired to participate.
Until the year God put a very specific word in my heart: Reflect. I’d had a particularly tough year in 2012, and through it all, I had been learning to stop depending on myself, and the myth of my “superwoman” strength, and to trust God COMPLETELY with everything. God showed me that my only focus for the upcoming year was to finally let go of improving myself, with my own strength, and to reflect HIM — and see His image in me. “Reflect” made perfect sense to me. And as I navigated that next year, the mission to reflect Him from the inside out made a huge impact on my choices, my perspective, and my joy.
What’s the difference between a word for the year and a resolution? For me, the difference is about focus. New year’s resolutions are just a new to-do list, focused on all the things YOU think you should do to improve yourself, your family, your life. Next year will be better… we tell ourselves. On the other hand, having a banner word to drape over the new year brings all plans into razor sharp focus: A singular mission vs. a laundry list of improvements that, to be honest, probably haven’t changed much from year to year. Single-mindedness, staying the course, focus on the prize (in Christ Jesus) and not the race itself — these are concepts the Bible teaches about living a transformed life.
However, whether you decide to choose a word for 2015 or not, the most important part of looking forward to the new year is prayer. Ask God for direction regarding the opportunities and choices that lay ahead of you in the new year. Pray for guidance and spend time in His Word, which is your light and lamp for the next step.
It’s natural to feel like you want to fix those things that didn’t work out smoothly this past year, or finally get to those things in the new year that you haven’t prioritized properly in the past. We live in a world consumed with improvement. What’s wrong with taking the clean slate of a new year and trying to make it better?
That may not be God’s plan. In fact, if we consult God’s Word for answers regarding our mission, we’ll discover that the Christian walk isn’t at all about becoming more comfortable, improving our situation, being well liked and appreciated, or becoming a better “you” on the outside. And if you have a “thorn” afflicting you like the Apostle Paul did, God may choose not to remove it — and show Himself strong in your affliction instead.
“Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.”
— Romans 12:1-2
As you pray about the upcoming year, present yourself as a living sacrifice before your Heavenly Father, ask Him for direction, and allow Him to continue the transformation in process. He’s waiting for you to ask!
Have you ever chosen a word for the year, or are you a resolutions list maker? What else do you do to plan and prepare for an upcoming year? What scriptures have been particularly insightful to you as you pray for direction for this new year?
Latest posts by Renée Gotcher (see all)
- Why God Wants You to Be a Morning Person - June 30, 2016
- How to Start a Homeschool Co-Op Book Club - May 23, 2016
- A Letter to My Mom: Thank You for Homeschooling Me - May 7, 2016
- 5 Reasons to Consider Homeschool Co-Ops - May 1, 2016
- Finding Freedom in God’s Design for Marriage - March 21, 2015