What’s in a word?
For many, the change of a year causes reflection, and they think of a word to guide them in their new promise to themselves. (If that’s you, say hello in the comment section!)
I’ve done it myself for several years, although the last few have remained the same: Simplify. I was ready to claim it once again, convinced it’d take, one of these years.
This last year was very difficult for me, personally. 2017 started with a bang, as I owned the fact that I had more than some two-year old baby blues. A couple of close relationships became difficult, and I constantly felt like I was trying to walk through mud, never getting anywhere fast and always meeting resistance.
I recently took this quiz from Dayspring (it’s a Biblical greeting card company, if you’re into that), although I rarely ever do those sort of things. I’m too busy to be busy doing time wasters, but I tried it on a whim anyway to be festive. I was disappointed when I received my word: Brave.
Brave? How boring, unoriginal. Couldn’t it have been a more…exciting word? There wasn’t anything in my life to be brave about, I was just always frustrated I couldn’t get my bum in gear and get something accomplished. This last year was a standstill failure. There was nothing to be brave about. How about productivity, motivate, fruitful, creative…something more glamorous and applicable was what I wanted.
Begrudgingly, I read the PDF results, and it noted Lydia and Esther, two Biblical women who faced some pretty impossible circumstances. Lydia was the earliest logged Christian convert in a pagan and Jewish world who worked in the Greek city of Thyratira. She was a merchant of purple linen, man’s work, and she invited the broken and bruised Paul and Silas into her home following their imprisonment in Philippi. On the other hand, as the new, accidental Persian queen, Esther faced Haman, the king’s right hand man, in his plot to trick the king into killing Esther’s entire Jewish family for his personal vanity. Considering that the king hadn’t known that Esther was even Jewish, she was barely even known to the king himself yet as a person, and Haman was his trusted advisor, she risked everything and eventually saved her people.
(See also: When the Year Whispers a Theme)
I began thinking of the teenager Mary, approaching her betrothed to tell him that the Holy Spirit had gotten her pregnant. What? I can’t imagine the look on Joseph’s face. She trusted that God had her in the palm of His hand and obeyed, even in a culture where infidelity meant her death by stoning. Further, Ruth, a Moabite, followed her mother-in-law Naomi to her native Bethlehem after both of their husbands’ passing, Bethlehem being a foreign land to Ruth. Naomi instructed her to do some pretty wacky things to gain Boaz’s favor, and she trusted her mother-in-law. In a time where two widows had zero rights and were supposed to become beggars to waste away unseen, she trusted foreign tradition without any explanation, eventually gaining safety for both her and Naomi.
Aside from Biblical names, history shows many who display bravery. Women who immediately come to my mind are Mother Theresa, Rosa Parks, Florence Nightingale, Sojourner Truth, Emmaline Pankhurst, Marie Curie, Malala Yousafzai, Amelia Earhart…women who defied what was expected of them and demanded new boundaries made. They stepped up and stepped out into some really risky scary stuff, even when the outcome was a mystery, and often even culturally dangerous.
It turns out that Brave isn’t such a boring word after all.
When I reflected on what was so hard about my 2017, I realized that it all had to do with how much I talked about what I needed to do, what I wanted to do, what I should be doing. A couple of passions should be turned into businesses, and I thought about how I would go about it if I did it. I toiled over those hard relationships, wondering where the disconnect was. I created so many lists of things I needed to learn to do, especially when it came to fixing things in this old house, but rarely found the time to even search YouTube for an answer. I’ve thought about how seeing a counselor for depression would probably help my family, but continued to rely on myself figuring out how to manage it and find triggers. I’ve wanted to start a vlog all year, but kept talking myself out of it, saying our life was uninteresting, I didn’t have the right equipment, I should work up a plan first. Finally, I spent yet another year talking about how I needed to simplify, getting rid of clutter, finding routine, and streamlining processes.
(See also: How To Be Productive Without Losing Your Mind)
A whole pile of talking and thinking made up the year. No wonder why I feel stagnant and complacent in what my life did over the last year. I had such a debilitating wish that everything be perfect before I could start, that I never started anything. I never stepped out in faith, and was certainly never brave, I hadn’t written it on any of the seemingly endless to-do lists I wrote out and barely accomplished.
“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” – Will Rogers
This year, I’m owning that lame word, Brave. Perhaps it envelopes my previous word of Simplify, too. It’s much easier to maintain the status quo, no matter how infuriating it is. There’s no reason to be in the same place from one year to another. I know it’s often superficial to make promises with the new year, and I rarely take it very seriously. That seems to be the problem.
“Even if you fall on your face, you’re moving forward.” – Victor Kiam
Your turn: What one word would you use as a focal point in the new year? Why does it speak so strongly to you?
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