Pick a Word, Any Word

I am not too fond of New Year’s Resolutions. Why would I make a list of goals, too strenuous, time-consuming, and impossible to keep? What fun is that?

I’m all for setting goals (sorta), but resolutions are just the list of things we never quite accomplish and then get down on ourselves for not completing.

When I first met my husband, however, he introduced me to a different way of starting off the New Year. You pick a word. A simple idea–one word, to focus on, meditate on, and reflect on for an entire year.

Only, be careful of the word you choose. My first time choosing a word, I made a huge mistake…

I was so inspired by my soon-to-be-husband’s suggestion at the time, that as I was driving down the road, I uttered something like this…

God, You are so Wonderful. All of the good things that are in me are of You. I have nothing good in and of myself. I want to be humble before You. I choose the word “humility” for the year.

Little did I know that in selecting the word humility, I was about to be bombarded with an onslaught of threats to my self-esteem unlike I have ever experienced before or since. You ask for humility, you better believe the Lord will deliver.

First, for some reason, I chopped off my hair–way off–months before my wedding. The haircut was awkward and looked more like someone had placed a cheap wig upon my head. I began to refer to myself as Keebler, because let’s face it, I looked like a boy elf.

Weeks later, I was fired from not just one, but two jobs. My self-esteem was in the toilet. Talk about being humbled, and not in the way you would expect. I was clinging to God. And I suddenly realized how unhealthy my attachment to my hair really was (but man, I have great hair).

The next year I chose my word wisely. The year after that, God gave me a word.

This year, for 2010, my word was “victory.” I had spent some time praying and had that word come to mind. I got very excited. Victory. Victorious. Success. That sounds good right?

But then I realized that, while God was promising there would be victories in 2010, I was not exempt from having to fight the battles in order to achieve those victories and…there have been battles.

…Battles within my family over God and faith. Battles regarding my health. Battles to finish what I’ve started, even though I’ve wanted to quit. Battles to resist forming idols.

Every year has battles, it’s just that this year I went in knowing they would be ahead of me and yet reassured that there would be great victory.

What could have been detrimental to my relationship with my family, God  transformed. When I felt like I couldn’t get out of bed some days because the pain was too much, God gave me strength and perseverance. When it would have been easier to just quit blogging, God gently reminded me  to finish what I started and you all–yes you–reminded me that it is worth it.

My word for 2011 is yet another word that God spoke to me. It is certainly not one that I would have chosen on my own: surrender.

Surrender sounds like a nice Christian word. We toss it around from time to time, but it involves much more dying to myself than I happen to be comfortable with. But, He chose, not me and now I get to practice my word and just… surrender.

Do you make resolutions? Do you keep them? Have you ever tried choosing a word? Do you have a word in mind?

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29 thoughts on “Pick a Word, Any Word”

  1. Wow, what great words for the new year!

    I hardly ever make New Years Resolutions, because I made goals all the time- every month, so I thought it was lame to make extra special ones.

    But, I’ve gotten out of the habit of goal setting, and so I took the new year to begin my goal setting routine again. So I guess you could call them new years resolutions!

    I was just about to blog about this, and mine will probably be long, intensive, and not fun at all! ha!

    I love the idea of a word- hmmm…I’ll have to think of mine!

    1. Wow, you made goals every month? I’m impressed.

      Go on, pick a word. I love it.

      You can write down the word each year and list a few of the ways that God answered or moved. It is cool to look over years later.

  2. Hi Nicole, I made a 2010 list & realized, I don’t want to do it anymore, at least publicly, because it’s like I set myself up for failure.

    For this upcoming 2011, I really like your “word” concept… and the first thing that came to my heart was “trust”, along the lines of your blog post on God speaking to you through a feeling…

    BTW, love your blog!

    1. Joyce,

      I love that! “Trust” is great. There are so many ways to exercise that word.

      I checked out your blog earlier today and I dig it. Thanks so much for the encouragement and for commenting.

      I look forward to hearing more from you.

  3. This will be my first year picking a word. I’ve heard about it before, and was thinking about resolutions this morning in the car. I turned on the radio and KLove was talking about picking a word. I’m not sure what word He will choose for me. There are lots of words that would apply, lots of characteristics of Jesus that could be more fully developed in me, and lots of ways the Lord can improve who I am in Him. Surrender is a scary one, you’re right. Being newly married, I’m fairly certain God will make a word about saying yes when I want to say no, or putting my husband first, or dying to self, or… some other good but terribly difficult concept for this selfish human.

      1. So, last night during service, God gave me “salty” for my 2011 word. Am I flavoring and preserving, or am I bland and tasteless and of no use? Oy!

  4. Please don’t stop writing this blog, it provides a great dose of thought provoking, challenging and fun content to my day. Thanks Nicole!

    I’ve never heard of the one word idea, but I like it. My word for 2011 (similar to Jinny) would be ‘Yes’. With starting a new church and being newly married, I need to say ‘yes’ to my husband when he needs time for anything ministry related. I also need to say ‘yes’ to my God and to serving our community. It’s not easy for me, but I know I can improve greatly this year. Looking forward to it!

    I don’t know if I’ve ever made a New Year’s resolution, but I do write goals. We write goals for work and include personal ones as well, so it’s sort of required which I appreciate. I’m excited to think about big and small goals to accomplish this year.

    1. heather,
      “Yes” would be a great word! I love that! It entails obedience, willingness, a servants heart, being proactive…so much!

      I’m excited for your 2011. You have so many wonderful things coming down the line and I can’t wait to see how God uses you.

      Thanks again for the encouraging words!

    1. Thanks.

      I saw Alece at Grit and Glory wrote the same post today. So funny.

      And yes, we should be careful what we ask for from the Lord because He is usually quick to answer, especially when it comes to such “Fun” topics as humility and patience.

      Thanks for commenting Benjer. Cool blog too. You have some great content for the next generation and those leading them. Blessings.

  5. me and resolutions don’t do very well…mostly because my scatterbrained self forgets! i also lack consistency in my life and am terrible at long term goals. the weird thing about that is i’m pretty ambitious…i think i just change goals a lot and shoot for that! haha. okay. i’m confusing myself.

    i love the one word concept. it comes up a lot in my prayer life and it’s how i developed my last 3 online bible studies – REST, RENOWN and PLANTED… i usually sense something on my heart and do a word study on it. God’s shown me and grown me through this process…

    last year the Lord led me to several scriptures that had to do with NEW – so that became my pseudo word. never did i imagine all that NEW would truly entail. I also had uttered outloud the word UNCOMFORTABLE and well, combine that with new and let’s just say God has stretched and refined me a lot this past year.

    FAITHFUL has been on my heart for the last month. it’s something i need to strive toward in my daily walk as a wife, mother and leader…but also remember as an attribute of God…so we’ll see if that ends up being my word….

    Surrender…will be neat to see how God speaks to you in 2011.

  6. Nicole . . .

    I am SOOOO glad I found you! I love your site, love your words, your honesty, your ability to speak truth into modern culture, your asking good questions. You seem to really “get” how to speak to this generation wrestling with authentic faith. Really, I could continue to gush, but I will try to hold it back. I will definitely be linking you on my sidebar for my readers to find you!

    Thanks for this post– Thanks for blogging and will look forward to reading more.

    Love from Thailand,

    1. Laura,
      Hello! Thank you so much for the kind words and encouragement. I woke up to your comment and you just made my day! So thank you.

      I actually found your blog a couple weeks ago. Funny huh? You and your husband are doing such wonderful things there for His Kingdom. I look forward to following your adventure.

      Blessings from Phoenix all the way to Thailand

  7. I loved your post Nicole! I don’t have a single word per se but God has given me a picture for this next year, a picture of a plough moving forward, with the idea of not looking back. It’s a new year and God is always doing new things. He wants to do new things in me, but that means not looking back to what He has done in the past.

    The plough also represents hard work – new things don’t necessarily come easily, but we have to break through rocks and hard clods before we can sew seeds, and even as I type this that idea makes me nervous, but I can trust Him to help me break up the fallow ground that might be before me before sewing those seeds.

    I pray an excellent New Year to you and your family, and I pray surrender will lead to more fullness in Him. xoxoxo

  8. It’s been recently brought to my attention that I haven’t been enough of a servant to my family–to my children or my husband. So my word for 2011 is “service.” Since we’re expecting a baby in 2011, I’m sure I’ll have ample opportunities to work on my servant’s heart!

    1. Karen,
      Service could be a difficult word, I admit. I will say though that whenever I serve–and serve without the need for recognition or praise–I always feel the closest to the Lord. I’ll be praying Karen that your service to your family will come from a heart longing to bless, not out of obligation. Blessings Karen.

      Congratulations also on your soon-to-be-new-baby! That is so exciting.

  9. Hi Nicole!

    First off, congrats on succeeding to start your amazing blog in 2010. I started reading a few weeks ago and by now I’m eagerly awaiting every new post!

    I’ve read about the idea of choosing a word instead of making resolutions on a few other blogs, but I have to admit that I’ve always been a bit indifferent to making any kind of long term commitments to either resolutions or other life adjusting measures (except for walking with Jesus and living out His calling for my life, of course ;-) ). But while reading through your post I started thinking about giving it a shot.

    I kind of knew I wasn’t going to decide on the right one myself, so – being the daring me that I am – I told God that if he wanted me to have some kind of epiphany/revelation/adjustment/or basically just to get something into my head and heart, He might as well tell me in form of a 2011 non-New-Year’s-resolution-word.
    And He did!

    So now I will include into my life, my thoughts, my heart, my home, my work, my calling, my relations and into pretty much everything else the word


    I will try to find out what/whom I depend on that I should let go, what/whom I should depend on more, how dependency on certain people/things influences my decision making, etc…

    So THANK YOU Nicole, for challenging me to a very new kind of challenge! I’m very much looking forward to where this word will bring me in 2011!

    All the best from snowy Vienna, Austria (the one without the kangaroos ;-)),
    Julia x

    1. Julia,
      Thank you for the kind words. I am so blessed to know that you took a chance and decided to choose a word. I have never ceased to be blessed by it, even when the word is difficult or uncomfortable.

      Dependency is a great word. You listed some good ways in which God might grow you and challenge you in that area. I look forward to hearing how it goes along the way.

      You are my first commenter from Austria by the way and I think it is super-cool! Looking forward to getting to know you more.

      Love, from the warm and sunny Phoenix, Arizona.

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