Wednesday, December 30

Lose the List & Pick a Word

Tis that time of year where we reflect upon the current year and look ahead towards the coming year. We look at the things we've accomplished, the happy moments, the hard times that continued to mold and shape us...and we look at the upcoming year with anticipation and hope.
For me, 2015 was a year of some of the things I love best:
Crossfit. Yoga. Travel. Dance. Fellowship and Faith with Friends.

As I look forward to 2016, I have a heart of anticipation and wonder at what God will call me to do, what doors He will open, and what He will bring me through. (John 14:1 Don't let your heart be troubled, trust in God). 

Although my 2015 was full of highlights there were low points. There were hard things to walk through, friendships I had to let go, peoples loved ones who passed away, unanswered questions, fights, angry tongues that flew, disappointments and failures. I made goals and promises that I didn't keep (to myself and others) but I survived it, made it through and here I stand at the end of 2015. I promise you we all will face troubles and hardships in 2016... that is hopefully not a shock to any of you; but what can we do to ensure that God can use us for His best in 2015? What can we do today to ensure that one-year-from-now, we can recall on 2016 and be like "Wow, God was in that. He was in that mess. He was in that victory. He really has shown me...."? 

I think it starts with a simple list: throw out that list and pick a word.

Lose the list of resolutions we shove to the back of our mind come late winter. Yeah we all want to be happier, be healthier, lose weight, spend more time with friends and family, quit a bad habit, learn a new hobby, save more, spend less, travel, get organized, be less stressed, live life to the fullest, stop procrastinating, declutter and spend less time on social media. Sound like a familiar list? Yeah. I used to have a few of those items dashed across the imaginary paper in my head of 'New Years Resolutions'. How many of those 'came true'? Well if I had to write a list today, I'd say a lot of those would still appear on my list which makes me ask- Are these even obtainable goals? Are they quantifiable? Eh. Instead of getting stuck in the cycle of list making and resolution breaking, several years ago I started doing something different. I threw out the list and picked a word.

Pastor Mike Ashcraft, the pastor of the church I attended in college Port City Community in Wilmington North Carolina, would always preach a sermon at the end of the year about MY ONE WORD. A few years later he took his sermons, thoughts and prayers and published the book, My One Word. To put it briefly, Pastor says instead of focusing on this list of things you may or may not be able to obtain, pick one word to inspire you throughout the year. "Choose just one word that represents what you most hope God will do in you, and focus on it for an entire year". 

Great- sounds good but how do you pick just one word? Pastor Ashcraft has some simple steps to help you narrow down a couple million word choices to just one. Ask yourself, what kind of person do you want to become this year? Identify the characteristics and qualities of that person. Is that person slow to anger? Is that person outspoken? Is that person generous? This should help get your mind flowing on qualities, characteristics and words that can help inspire you in 2016. Check out the website for some great jumping off points:



Chose your word. Write it down. Focus on that word. How can you apply it to your daily life? What do you want to see at the end of the year? I had a friend who chose the word 'carefree' one year because she was always worrying and stressing. So on a notecard she wrote the word CAREFREE on one side and a Bible verse she could read when she found her mind wondering down the road of distress. In the end she had to tape notecards in the kitchen, her bathroom, the car, her office.... and she worked at it for a whole year. Not saying it was like snap-your-fingers-everythings-perfect, but she really did become stronger in her faith by trusting God with the little things and when she was stressed or anxious she could turn to God for comfort. 

So who do you want to become in 2016? What qualities or characteristics do you want to grow or bolster in this next year? Pray about it! Ask God what He wants to show you. Open your heart because you'd be amazed at what God will do if you only let Him. 

Happy 2015 and a Blessed 2016 Everybody!