What is “Word of the Year”?
2017 is the first time I’ve picked a word of the year. It can kind of be whatever you want it to be, but I think most people who pick a WOTY (word of the year) do it as a way to be intentional with their days without cornering themselves into resolutions that they may or may not stick to. It can be spiritual or religious, or just an idea you’d like to keep at the front of your thoughts throughout the year. I’m sure a quick search on Pinterest or Google will lead you down all kinds of paths.
While I definitely still set goals for myself this year (using the Cultivate What Matters Powersheets), my word of the year was what I wanted the overarching theme in 2017 to be. I started thinking about it in November of last year and threw some ideas around. I ultimately settled on the word persevere.
The reasoning behind this was that I wasn’t going to be implementing a whole lot of “new” goals into my life, but just wanting to continue on with some foundational habits that I’ve been working on changing in my heart and life the last year or so. While overall I had made progress on those goals, I too easily, let myself make up excuses for seasons here and there in the various areas I had set goals in. I wanted to do better. I wanted to persevere, do the hard thing, and reap the results of that.
Perseverance also has some spiritual implications for me. As a believer that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that He died for my sins to put me in righteous standing before God, something no amount of perseverance could get me, the word is important in the life of a Christian. The first place I think about it in the Bible is in Romans 5, which is kind of the foundation for my picking of this word.
This first few verses of this chapter are talking about how we can rejoice in God because of our justification by faith. I can rejoice because I am at peace with God because of the work Jesus did on the cross. Not only can we rejoice in those things that seem like obvious reasons for one to rejoice in, but the next set of verses talk about why we can actually rejoice in our suffering.
We can rejoice in our suffering because it’s producing perseverance and character and hope in our lives. That character and hope is something I want for me personally and to live out in front of my son. I love that the Message calls it “passionate patience” because that’s exactly the tension I feel, the tension of wanting to do, do, do but knowing that it’s already been done for me, and so I have to wait, patiently, while the work grows in my heart and life. James 1:25 also talks about perseverance, and enduring in obedience because it will be a blessing for us.
Perseverance isn’t a Checklist
A lesson I’ve learned and am hanging onto is that sometimes, God doesn’t give you specific tasks to do. Joshua was called to do some great things (like lead an entire nation into a promised land) and God’s commands to him in the beginning weren’t a list of how that would be done.
God’s commands to Joshua were to be strong, to be courageous, to obey carefully, and to meditate day and night on the truth. There was no command to “figure out how to get all these people into the promised land and then make it happen.”
I’ve been praying for over a year for the “how” to homeschool and stay home with Jacob. After thinking about this in light of Joshua’s story, maybe I’m praying the wrong thing? In fact, I think the book With Christ in the School of Prayer would say so. I think what I need to be praying for is courage to trust God even though I can’t see Him, strength to be obedient and grace for when I fall short.
Moses was also just invited to “come.” I love looking at my goals as ways I say “I’m coming to what God has called me to do.” And in these goals, I’m not called to curate a perfect plan or a detailed to-do list; God has already completed the work and is faithful.
This all kind of goes back to the “passionate patience” I found in Romans in The Message version of the Bible earlier this month. There is activity, to be passionate in following God and obeying what He has called me to do, like Joshua and Moses. There’s also patience, a stillness and peace to be found in the fact that I’m not in control and don’t have to strive.
Word of the Year Meets New Year Goals
First, it’s probably important at this point to share some of my goals. I mentioned in that post about who I use Powersheets from Cultivate What Matters. You can visit the link to find out more about what those are.
Goals for 2017
My first goal is to cultivate faith in my own life. This is foundational to me because without it, I have no value or calling. Having good goals and a word of the year are not about being an awesome task-master, they’re about doing what matters. Faith matters to me for my own life and the life of my husband and son, and many others. Without faith, it is impossible to please God.
My second goal is to cultivate health. I believe that my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. I believe that we are called to be good stewards of this one body that we have. While doing all the right things doesn’t guarantee perfect health, it’s a matter of obedience and doing all that I can to make sure I steward well the resources I’ve been given. My body is not my own.
My third goal is to stay on track financially and be debt free by the end of next year. I want our family to be able to give more, to not be ruled by our money, and to be in a place where we’re not too focused on material things.
My fourth goal is homeschool Jacob for his Kindergarten year. We believe this is the best choice for our family for this year. He will turn 5 next month, so we won’t technically start Kindergarten until the Fall of 2017.
My fifth goal is to be a better friend. We were made to live in community and we believe this is a giant hole in our life right now.
My sixth goals is to continue to cultivate love and commitment in my marriage. This is the essential building block of my family and society; Jim will be here with me long after Jacob has gone on.
My seventh goal is to make time for self-care through doing things I enjoy. These things bring my life. I have to make time to do them, or I won’t.
My eighth goal is to make a plan for our future (like retirement and wills, etc.) This stuff isn’t fun, but it’s super necessary.
Perseverance in January
This month, I took part in the Look for Love challenge from Tone It Up. It doesn’t technically end until mid-February, but it looked like doing the hard thing of working out and eating as clean as I could even when it wasn’t convenient and even though the scale isn’t tipping a single pound lost. I have invested a lot of time and money into this and I was hoping for some pretty serious results on the scale and in measurements. I’m super discouraged about it, but I will finish.
It also looked like doing homeschool activities every day even though I won’t see the fruit of it for a while. It also looked like being consistent in parenting choices we’ve made, even though it meant I was going to have to then be consistent with our discipline and follow through of that choice. It’s usually not as bad as I think it will be, sometimes it’s worse, but it doesn’t matter.
Perseverance also looks like trusting God for the long-term. I am a seeker of validation- I want to know on a regular basis that I’m doing well, that I’m on the right track, that I’m being pleasing. This means I have to trust God to guide me and resist the temptation to look around and compare my life to others, not to see who’s always doing the best, but sometimes, I just don’t know what to do, and so I start looking around. That’s why some of this is super hard for me and why I chose for this word to by my theme for the year.
So perseverance for January was about continuing to do the things I’ve picked to do each day because they line up with my overall goals even though fruit won’t bear from the perseverance for weeks, even months.
Perseverance in February & March
First, I wanted to note that in February, I did complete the Look for Love challenge I mentioned in January and more than met my weight loss goal. I had written about being discouraged, but continuing on paid off. Pushing ahead despite difficulties or delays in achieving success is one of the definitions of perseverance so it totally fits here.
February was a hard month of sickness for us and also getting the news that my son would need surgery for some dental problems he’d been having. March found us in the middle of then Lenten season and I know I’ll have some better, more complete thoughts about it in a few weeks as I finish processing through.
So perseverance for me in those months looked exactly how I think it should- just doing the things, even when the “why” or “how” isn’t clear. That’s why I love having rhythms and routines that keep me going when I don’t want to. Simple things each day, each week, keep me on track and at least moving forward, even if it is ever so slowly.