My One Word for the Year

So, you may know that I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. I find them to be a big fat waste of time–like watching 15 straight hours of Top Chef over the holiday season, which I did not do, by the way (or did I?).

Resolutions are just our way of saying, “Here’s where I sucked last year, so let me make a list so I can suck again this year.” No thank you. I’m set.

Sure, I make goals, but only because my uber-driven, easily organized, and eternally enthusiastic husband makes me. He forces me to get all reflective (which I hate), and introspective (which I hate even more) about the past year. It kills me…in a good way, but still.

One thing I do practice every single January, however, is choosing one word for the year. Now, it seems that the whole “choose one word,” thing has become annoyingly popular, *ahem* I mean, trendy, which like any good reject makes me want to stop doing it altogether. But, I’m holding fast to knowing that I started choosing a word for the year, years ago, so I count myself a trend setter–not a follower.

(Now, that I’ve got that out of the way). Follow me? he he…

Yes. You should follow me in this whole choose one word idea because, well, it’s really cool (and kinda not-so-cool, but I’ll get to that part). Here’s why…

Because I don’t actually pick the word. God does.

That’s right. I mean, I picked a word once and I made a bad, bad choice. Never again. I learned my lesson and now I just pray. I ask God what word He has for me. And without fail, before I can even finish my prayer, a word jumps into my mind. And there it sits, while I try to systematically ignore and/or pretend like that wasn’t the word I just heard…

‘Cause you know, it’s not a “great” word. It’s not a sexy word. It’s not a comfortable or easy word. It’s not even an easily defined word, at least not in terms of the Spirit.

So, I bet you’re wondering what my word for the year is, huh? What seemingly simple, but not-so-simple-in-the-economy-of-God-word did I hear?

(sigh) Receive.

Yup. Receive.

It sounds pretty benign I admit. On face value it certainly doesn’t rival some of my past words like, humility or surrender.

But, if you know me and if you knew what has been going on as of late, you would know that the word “receive” makes my skin crawl. It makes me uncomfortable just to think of it.

Because I know what the Lord wants (I mean, as much as I can know). He wants me to be open, to trust, to close my eyes and lift up my heart, to be, to listen, to believe, to gather, to gain, to be full.

And I’m resistant, and unsure, nervous, and afraid, doubting, and weak, questioning, and yet secretly hopeful that all He has to give me, I really am able to receive…

Because I want it. I want it so badly I can taste it. And if all goes well, this year, I will.

Do you make resolutions? Why or why not? Have you done the “pick a word, one word,” thing before? What was last years? What is this year’s word?


33 thoughts on “My One Word for the Year”

  1. Nicole,

    I love the word the Lord has chosen for you this year. I’m looking forward to hearing about how this plays out in your life. Personally speaking, I have never chose a word for the year before. I think I will this year, however, because of your suggestion. The word that comes to mind is ‘Outlaw’.

    I’m intrigued:)

    1. Jamal,


      Now, I’m intrigued too. It conjures up so many ideas, one of which was something I prayed over a brother in our church just this week which was the idea of recklessness–but being reckless for the Lord–lawless, abandoned, unhindered. I cannot wait to see how God uses this theme and idea in you!

  2. Do you make resolutions? Why or why not? Have you done the “pick a word, one word,” thing before? What was last years? What is this year’s word?

    I haven’t made resolutions in ages because I fail at them and I’ve never heard the “pick a word, one word” before. But now I want to seek God to see what he has for me.

    1. I believe that my “one word” from God is grace.
      I need to accept that through Jesus is everything accomplished rather than my own works. This has been a long-time struggle for me to really understand that it’s God’s grace that I need to rely on. This verse and others come to mind:

      2 Corinthians 12:9
      9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

  3. I don’t make resolutions but I do make some goals for the year. I make more short term goals al the time so I just take the New Year to make a few more long term goals. I have also chosen a word for the year – I’m one of these trendy newcomers to the idea! ;) My word is ‘blossom’, from a prophecy God gave me a few years ago.

  4. Last year my husband-to-be and I had the word “patience” and it played out so many times in our lives (and continues to play out). Our word for this year is “Listen”, which strikes me as particularly interesting since I am already hard of hearing and am continuing to lose my hearing.
    (as a side note, he’s no longer my husband-to-be…We dropped the “to-be” part about 5 months ago.)

    1. Joy,
      I love that you and your husband (woo hoo! and congratulations!) choose a word together. My hubster and I always have different words, but I bet the Lord has one for both of us, as well.

      And “listen” implies so much–hearing, receiving, knowing, understanding, quieting yourselves, trusting. Good stuff! Thanks for sharing.

  5. I didn’t know others did this! Last year’s word? Surrender. Which I really fought most of the year. : )

    This year’s word? JOY.

    Which might sound much more fun than surrender. But I have a hunch that it means I will be facing past hurts and wounds that I allow to hold me back from truly experiencing Joy.

    Glad to find this blog & look forward to your journey Receiving in 2013!

    1. Rhesa,
      My word for last year was surrender, too. It was tough, but I could see God’s faithfulness through it all. And, I agree, that while “joy” sounds awesome, we cannot get there sometimes without dealing with past hurts. I had “victory” 2 years ago and got all excited and then realized that victory only came after battle…

      Praying for your joy this year and all that the Lord wants to do in and through you. Blessings.

  6. Wow … love this! I don’t consciously choose a particular word for the year, but I guess God must be choosing my words too ’cause the past few years I’ve had a theme that God has laid upon my heart throughout the year. Last year it was faith, and by the end of the year, what I had learned about faith spawned into an entirely new theme … fearlessness.

    In 2012, I was utterly consumed by fear. Fear of the future. Fear of trying for fear that I’d fail. Fear of losing what I have. Fear of one day losing what I don’t yet have. Fear of never seeing answers to certain prayers. Fear.

    But I’m determined to stop being afraid. To trust God rather than give into my fears. This year I’m ready for a change. This year I want to be fearless.

  7. I hear you on God picking the word. This year, I was given Restoration. I am looking forward to all this year has to hold. Blessings and best of luck to you this year.

  8. I rarely makes “resolutions”, because if something is worth doing, a calendar is a terrible form of empowerment/excuse to delay. I did finally make a double-sided change I have been procrastinating over for far too long: I put down the cigarettes after 30 years of poisoning myself, and put on the running shoes to train for the marathon I’ve wanted to run for 25 years.

    I am inspired by seeking a word from God…He has been repeating “Believe” in my ear, it keeps coming out in my teaching and preaching…so it must be my Word, even though, like you, it’s not necessarily an easy or fun word to get.

  9. i LOVE your word, nicole! and to me, receiving has always been far more challenging (and requiring of trust and surrender) than giving. should be an amazing (and at times, arduous) journey. here’s to a year of open hands and heart…

    and i’ve been choosing just one word for years too… ;) my word for 2013? enough. because i want my heart to start to really grasp that i am enough.

  10. I love this idea! I’m really not a resolution girl either. Last year my word was “dream.” I invested a lot of energy into pursuing my dreams. Now I’m kinda tired. I’m thinking this year my word will be relax. I’m so bad at doing that, but I’m pretty sure I need to do it more. =)

  11. I so resonate with picking a word that sounds sexy at first (like “victory”) and then God totally using it to humble you.
    God gave me the word “follow” for this year. I realized I needed to cultivate humility and patience and the best way to do this was to get behind someone with these qualities. My pride gets in the way sometimes and I think of myself too often as a leader and mentor, rather than a learner and mentee.
    Wouldn’t you know it.. within the same week God gave me someone to follow and learn from.

  12. Last year was all about grace. I didn’t pray for a word, it’s just what I happened to learn. And yes, the trendy-ness is how I found out about this thing and I was kind of sad I didn’t have a word, until I asked for one and HE made it very clear what my word is for 2013. HOPE.

  13. God has given me the word……..change! Ouchie……I tend to fight change but its time to change that response to change. The changes I knew were coming this year when the year started: adopting 2 children and buying a house, throwing out the scale and choosing to be healthy. Changes that have already surprised me: my parents moving 3000 miles away, my work hours changing slightly (good thing), and a new sense of being home (which is major for me!). It’s only Jan 7th which begs the question for me: what else is God planning for this year?????? I am actually, surpisingly excited about what else God may bring! Things really are changing!!

  14. This is actually my first year doing the whole word thing, and two words came to mind for me- Mindfulness and Generative thinking so basically living in the moment and having positive expectations. Sounds good :)

  15. I can relate to being uncomfortable with receiving anything. I had this problem until a few years ago my pastors wife paid me a high compliment. I got very uncomfortable and did my best to worm my way out of that compliment with cliches like “give God the glory” and “it’s not about me” etc. and she grabbed my shoulders, looked me in the eye and said “just.say.thank you.” and just like that I am free.

    Also the best words makes us uncomfortable because that is the only way to growth.

  16. Hey Nicole! First of all, love love love your blog! Probably my favorite to regularly check in on! :) I’ve never been a real fan of New Years Resolutions, probably for the exact reason you mentioned here. I felt like it kinda set me up for failure before the year even started. Plus after a few months I would forget what my actual resolution was…and so it totally just got dropped. lol Funny thing though, this year I feel the Lord calling me to carefully consider where I want to go, and to be very specific in my goals for the next 12 months. So in the same turn that they are “goals” to reach, I feel that they even more so huge prayer opportunities for God to show his favor and glory in my life! I’m so excited to see where God takes these prayer requests and see how he moves above and beyond any human goal I could strive for!! :)

  17. I’m with you! I, too, have been doing the “word” thing for a long time, and I cringe each year when someone on a blog, facebook, twitter, says “Oh…so-and-so started this awesome new word-of-the-year thing.”

    My word this year is “love” :)

  18. I’m a new follower of your blog, and I just wanted to affirm your one word for 2013! If God can take simple shepherd boys and simple fisherman and simple donkeys and use them for mighty glory, He can use simple words too. Prayers that RECEIVE changes your life this year.

    My one word for the year is IDENTITY. All about casting aside what everyone else expects of me — friends, strangers, America, “culture” — and finding my fuel in God alone. Stepping into some bold new life-paths because they’re God’s plan for my identity.

    Gonna be a terrifying year. And gosh I can’t wait to experience all of it.

  19. Hi. I do pick a word each year instead of making resolutions. Last year my one word was CREATE. I’m still waiting for this year’s word to emerge. RECEIVE is really a beautiful word.

    Check out the “trendy” new book My One Word: Change Your Life With Just One Word. It sounds like it’s something your husband might read. :)

  20. Well, I was hesitant to do this. But I did, and God revealed a word to me: Depend. This one is a tough one for me too. In theory, it seems like a no-brainer: oh yeah, depend on God and everything will be great. But when it comes down to it, I choose to depend on myself or other people rather than God. So here it goes: depend.

  21. I attend a Bible study where we do this every year as well!

    This year, I’ve decided to choose the word “amor”, or love in Spanish. I just recently returned from a mission trip to build a house in Mexico and it truly inspired me. The phrase “Amor por Juárez” has been resonating in my heart lately, so I decided to make “amor” my word. Instead of battling through problems or having a negative attitude, this year I just want to love on people, love on myself, and spread God’s love that he has consistently shown me through the years. (:
    I always challenge my friends to do this as well instead of making a resolution.

  22. I have never thought of doing this until I started reading your stuff… Love the way you write by the way! Anyway, I am going through some fairly unpleasant things in my life right now, and today The Lord had me concentrating on sovereignty, namely His absolute sovereignty. That would have to be my word for the year. Thanks for such a “trendy” tip!

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