I spend significant chunks of time reading words. In books, on a variety of screens, in magazines, on menus, in piles of mail. Words are everywhere and we take for granted their power because of the sheer numbers crowding into our eyes and ears everyday.
Word overflow is one of the reasons I think picking one word as a focus for the year has become such a phenomena. In a word saturated world, there is simplistic appeal in choosing one word as a way to cut through all the noise. Sometimes we just need to grab hold of a simple word and see where it takes us. Instead of crafting an extensive list of resolutions that get broken within days, there is a refreshing air about picking one word instead.
I’ve “picked a word” for the past three years, all different and with varying outcomes. I’m excited about this year’s word more than any other because of a book I read over the holidays that brought the purpose of the yearly word picking process into focus. My One Word by Mike Ashcraft and Rachel Olsen gives suggestions about the how of choosing a word but more importantly the why. They propose that one word can unlock transformation by years end:
“We drift into the patterns of our lives unintentionally, because we don’t have anything else training our view. Your one word can frame your view this year.Train yourself to look through it.”
My word for 2014 is Abide.
Caitlin wrapped the word up as a Christmas gift. She had her talented roommate create a beautiful print because she knew this word lie at the heart of my mission statement. I propped it up on the piano throughout the holidays. Familiar little word, yet I found myself questioning if I really knew what it meant. As we rounded the corner on 2014 I started thinking about potential words for the year. Abide seemed the glaringly obvious choice.
Learning from one five letter word for a whole year seems ridiculous. That’s what makes this exercise intriguing. With all the millions of words that we read and hear within the course of 365 days, what would happen if we were specially alert to a particular one?
Therein lies the power of a single word to communicate meaning. To symbolize thousands of different nuanced intentions and contexts. Our language is a gift from our Creator and is as integral to our life as breathing. Single words have power, in our lives and in the lives of those we speak into.
My prayer is that my story will be deepened this year because of two consonants and three vowels.
John 15 is a where I’m starting to absorb this word. In the first three tiny weeks of 2014, I’ve realized that I have much to learn. This word, a verb, isn’t as much about what we do but what we submit to. It’s all about fruit bearing and pruning and relationship. And at the end of the day it happens only in an environmental stew of love.
I’m glad that there are 49 more weeks of teaching left in this little word exercise. I’ll be sharing stories of what the practice of abiding looks like on a messy and broken, yet patched-up and grace-filled girl like myself.