Do you know people who make New Year resolutions? Maybe you are one. More power to you, but I have a slightly different tradition. Instead of picking one or more things I wish to change after December 31st I ask for a word. That's right. A word that will go on to define the new year.
Several years ago I was telling a friend about this practice and she was slightly perplexed. She was used to reflecting back on a year in December and then coming up with a word that marked that season of her life. I asked her if she and ever asked for the word ahead of time. She hadn't, but now she also has adapted this practice because it can be life changing.
You see I believe God still speaks today. I believe He knows what's around the bend in the coming year and that He has provision for anything and everything that we will come up again: the good, the bad and the ugly. For me, the word I hear in my heart before the strike of midnight is encouragement that lasts a long time. It's also a mystery I get to ponder, a treasure I get to guard and a conversation point between God and me all year.
I have a decade of these words under my belt and they have predicted several pivotal moments in my life.
In 2010 I asked for the first time just before midnight. The word I heard quietly inside was "Hope". Less than a month later I was introduced to a church that became my family for the next seven years and was a catalyst for my spiritual growth. That same night I also met my future husband, though we did not start dating until several years later.
In 2012 my word was "Love". I started a romantic relationship and then watched it implode all within that year. It was a painful lesson to learn that sometimes love means letting someone walk away from you. My brother also moved from Alaska to attend the same college as me and our sibling love grew to a whole new level.
In 2013 my word was "Listen". I don't know how well I walked this one out. I started dating Aaron that year and communication was one of our biggest challenges. I had to learn to listen to someone whom I loved but sometimes didn't understand. I also was fresh out of college and eagerly listening to what God wanted me to do with my life. This meant a lot of time praying and being attentive to opportunities He was bringing into my life.
In 2015 my word was "Fulfillment". At the beginning of 2015 I was dating Aaron and wanted to get married, but it seemed like a far off dream. January was tough; between not knowing when my dad would give his blessing and the communication problems Aaron and I were still walking through. Halfway through the year God started bringing everything into place. In June Aaron asked me to marry him. He had a ring and the full backing of my family. By the end of November we were married and in December we moved into a beautiful apartment with a Mt. Hood view. This fulfillment year launched us into the most incredible marriage I could have ever imagined.
In 2019 my word were "New Beginnings." God radically shifted where my spare time and energy was funneling. Art became one of my top focuses, which I was not expecting at all. This website was born and many amazing live art opportunities came my way. I started asking God and myself often "what new doors can I walk through now?" This was a far cry from where I was at the beginning of the year.
So what's in store for 2020 for me and for you? I would start asking God or contemplating if you don't have a word yet. It doesn't have to be a fancy word or even a new thought. Just give your heart time to quiet down and see what the first word is that comes to mind. Then write it down some place you can see it or get a painting commission about it. You will want to see it all year to keep it as something to ponder and act on.
If you are reading this post and we are far into the new year you can jump in at any time. If you haven't already listen for your word it's not too late.
What's my 2020 word? Grace. I'm sure as my readers you will hear more about this as the journey into 2020 unfolds.
I like to write as well as paint. Often times the story behind a piece brings more life to the work. - Jessica Broich