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2016 in a Word

New Year’s resolutions. They go in one year and out the other. Do more. Do less. Do better. Be better. Start. Stop. Yada, yada. Live, laugh, love. Blah, blah, blah. Another epic fail. Even if we check them off we’re incomplete.

To reminisce about some personal failures, this sums up my do’s and don’ts of New Years past: Start hitting the gym every morning at 6 a.m. Start flossing 3 times a day. Start the gym every other day after work. Gym at least once a week and/or month. Start eating different food groups from the pyramid. Sleep. Keep a tidy apartment. Start budgeting. Finish reading the Bible. Finish making a New Year’s resolutions list. Finish a project I started. Stop stopping unfinished projects. Stop eating junk. Stop mindlessly dropping the f-bomb after doing something stupid. Stop doing stupid things. Stop and smell the roses. Stop at stop signs. Stop at nothing. Stop listening to Miley Cyrus’ “We Can’t Stop” on repeat (can’t stop, won’t stop)… And please, stop saying the gym starts tomorrow.

Most honest, self-aware people will at some point come to know how much they suck at resolutions. Since I’m a slow learner, I only had this epiphany about a year ago. When I looked back on all I accomplished that year (or didn’t), the good things and what led me towards them could only be attributed to one thing – one word. And that’s when I discovered God, quite literally, has a way with words.

Resolution

 

Throughout 2014 I was subconsciously drawn to one word. I’d find myself humming Amazing Grace when I was stressed. Coincidentally, the first time I witnessed an adult baptism was at my uncle’s church, and the celebratory hymn was Amazing Grace. Chris Tomlin’s rendition of Amazing Grace hit home and made me bawl (don’t judge, we’ve all been there), helping me experience hope at a time when I felt so lost. On another occasion, I closed my eyes and opened a book to a random chapter page where verses about God’s amazing grace began – a coincidence that led me to read the Bible for the first time of my own volition. I first became aware of my constant need for grace when I realized that none of my good deeds were truly selfless. Even as I gave my time to tutor kids, I sometimes felt like I wanted to kick them. I wanted to know why Jesus changed people’s names in the Bible to mean things like rock, rebellious, deliverer, or even deceiver, because these names seemed to foreshadow who the person ultimately became.  Later I discovered that the Hebrew translation of “Anna” is “favour or grace.”

It slowly became clear back then that my heart’s resolution throughout 2014 had been a single word. Grace. Again and again in those twelve months I had been inspired, changed, and saved on many levels by grace.

As 2015 approached, I prayed for God to help me grow and wondered if there was one word in His word that should be the focus that year. I felt compelled to write the word “LOVE” in my journal. I thought it sounded pretty corny at the time, so I quickly forgot about it. As last year went by, I found myself thinking about the concept of love, realizing more and more how little I knew about what love looked like, who love was, and how love does things. For a better part of the year, there was a song stuck in my head and God kept singing “I am gonna show you what I mean, I am gonna love like you’ve never seen.” Although failing many times this year, I felt nudges moving and teaching me in small ways to show love, and to incorporate love in everyday decisions. To speak love and inspire it. This crazy little thing called love. Then a friend handed me a book titled Love Does. Those words exploded my definition of love and jumpstarted my heart. Soon I was boarding a plane for an adventure of experiencing, trusting, receiving, and doing love.

Yet it wasn’t until a couple weeks ago, as I was looking back in my journal at my growth plan, that I was reminded how I had asked God to help me concentrate on one keyword. And there it was, where I had written it – “LOVE.” I think God was showing me what it means to spread His word; and though I hate to sound all lovey-dovey, there’s no doubt in my mind, this year my word was love.

There were so many things I hoped for in 2015 that I hardly knew where to start. More or less, I couldn’t figure out what I needed more or less of. But take my word for it, I accomplished so much more than I had ever hoped. And it’s been amazing to say for the first time ever, I was able to keep a New Year’s resolution and let God use it to create lasting change.

A word is not something that can be spelled out, completed, and checked off a list. One word won’t form a script, become a statement, or define how to measure ourselves. Rather, a word comes in multiple forms – noun, verb, adjective, past, present, future. One word has many meanings, interpretations, and paradigms; building our allusions, irony, and suspense. It allows us to extend ourselves; to create new context and design our own synonyms, to expand our point of view, persona, and plot line. One will never find themselves at a loss for a good word. Even when words fail or are used incorrectly, we learn to revise those phrases of our lives and amend the story being written. A meaningful word is not forgotten, it’s meditated on and rewritten over and over until the word speaks life, and when all comes together it paints a picture worth a thousand more.

This New Year, instead of holding ourselves to our own promises, it’d be far more promising if we start holding God to His word! If God makes all things new, without Him it’s just another year. So let God have the final word this year. Just one word.

 

Anna is a member of the Communications Team and the Creative Team. Her motto is “Where there’s pun, there’s fun.”

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