P.s. A little note if you’re reading this the day it goes live: If you’d like an iPhone lock screen with your word of the year, be sure to watch my Instagram Story today. Submit your word and I’ll create a custom lock screen so you have a beautiful and simple way to carry your word through the year.
Several months ago, as leaves fell and temperatures dropped, I started to see one word show up again and again.
In conversations, on the radio, during Sunday morning sermons, in books and blog posts and social media captions.
No matter where I turned, it seemed to be waiting for me, asking me to pay attention and hold it carefully, listening to what it had to say. Because clearly, if one word suddenly begins to show up all over the place for multiple months in a row, something is going on.
Do you pick a word for the year? Something you’ll focus on, a word or maybe even a phrase that will be a guide or a stake in the ground for the next set of 365? Somehow here we are, nearly two months into 2019, and I’ve to share my “word of the year” anywhere — online or in person.
For many years now, I’ve chosen a word of the year. Instead of making a list of resolutions or writing down specific goals, you simply choose a word to focus on in the coming year.
For me, “finding” the word isn’t the difficult part. Accepting it? Understanding what it will mean? That’s a bit harder.
And for the first time, I felt like this word wasn’t meant to be shared right away. Before posting or talking about it, I needed to sit with what it means (to me) and why I believe God gave it for 2019.
But I’m ready, now.
As I do each year, before beginning to write about my new word of the year, I read through the previous year’s word-of-the-year-post. When I came to these words about behold and flourish, I suddenly couldn’t see past the tears that filled my eyes. Because good gosh, this was my 2018.
“As you say hello to new beginnings and blank pages, you’ll come face to face with some of your hardest goodbyes. There’s a beautiful cost to planting your roots down deep. May you find that it was worth it, and may you see His hand in every last and see you later. When tears fall, trust that they are watering the soil that will enable you to flourish. Take time to rest, to appreciate, to slow down and remember. Stand in awe and be amazed, for He is a kind Father and a good Author. His fingerprints are all over these pages. May this be a year of holy anticipation, of looking for Him in the ordinary and discovering that He’s been there all along.”
I didn’t flourish in ways that the world would see and applaud.
I didn’t “go viral” or sign a big contract.
But I saw Him.
More than any other year, I can look back at 2018 and see intentional work done beneath the surface, change and growth that may not be visible just yet but will make a lasting impact in who I am as a friend, daughter, sister, writer and business owner.
There were new beginnings and blank pages, extremely difficult changes and plenty of tears to water the soil. I said goodbyes and packed boxes. When I wanted to run but He called me to be still and wait, I stayed. When I wanted to sit down but He called me to go, I ran.
I broke open — and He held me together.
I returned to Israel — and I felt His nearness.
I experienced a deep loss — and He was more than enough.
I made a few weighty decisions that will change the course of the next few years — and He gave me wisdom and peace.
I asked Him “where were You?” — and He showed me His fingerprints.
I looked for Him in the ordinary of my right now — and I saw Him.
I walked a road of grief — and He walked beside me every step of the way.
I slowed down and gave myself permission to simply be — and He met me there.
He was there in all of it — in the hard and the holy and the horrific and the hilarious. He was waiting to be found in the ordinary, constant and faithful through every change and unknown, kind and good on both the mountaintop and in the valley.
I said it last year, and it turned out to be more true than even I knew:
“Every year, I have an idea of what my word will mean but God always surprises me along the way. I think that at the heart of it, behold is about wearing different lenses and looking for Him, focusing on Him in the midst of it all. The situations I’m facing today won’t necessarily change tomorrow, but my perspective can shift. Do I know what story 2018 will tell? No. But I trust the One holding the pen. And so I’ll choose to behold and trust that as I do, I’ll flourish, learn, grow, and find that my roots continue growing deeper, preparing me and steadying me for whatever may come.”
2016: Temple. 2017: Planted. 2018: Behold and flourish.
Honestly, I’m a bit scared of what it could mean. But I’m certain it’s mine for this season, and so I’m paying attention and being mindful of what I anchor myself to. Because as Lauren Chandler has said, “What we choose to use as our anchor determines how well we will weather the seasons of life.” And so I’m thinking through questions like “What ties me down? Where do I find my security? When storms come and waters rage, where do I turn first?” I’m learning — and re-learning — that asking for help is not weakness. I’m making mistakes and receiving grace and remembering that I don’t have to hold it all together. He is already holding me together.
I don’t know all this year will bring, the storms or the miracles that will come my way, but I pray that I’ll be anchored in truth and grace and in a Hope that doesn’t change.
As has become my habit, I’ve written a letter to myself based on my word for the year. I’ve shared it below and would love to hear in the comments if you’ve chosen a word for 2019!
In every high and every low, may you remember that you do not walk alone. There is no wave that can overtake Him, no storm that can overpower Him, no wind that can shout louder than His gentle whisper. May this one day be a season you look back on and say that you listened well and you held on.
May you be anchored in a hope that does not change in changing winds. He is the One who walks on water, the one that the waves obey, and He is in charge. You are not adrift in a sea of chaos. Waves will crash and storms will come but remain anchored in truth and hold tightly to hope until the morning dawns.
An anchor is a heavy thing, a burden if carried instead of used for its intended purpose. You aren’t meant to be the anchor, but to be anchored. It isn’t yours to carry or a weight to drag you down, but a solid and sure thing to tether yourself to as you hold fast to the One who holds you. Keep your feet planted and your eyes fixed on the One who walks the waves, the One who makes a way. He will make you strong, but He will be your strength.
And if He calls you to join Him on the roaring seas, if He invites you to step into uncharted territory, go. One shaking step at a time, walk forward in faith that the best place to be is not the imagined safety of a ship but wherever He leads. May you find Him in the questions and the mystery, may you keep your eyes above the waves, and may you always have the faith to call on His name. He will hear, and He will save.
If fears surround, remember that grace abounds. It’s easy to say on calm waters and much harder to hold onto when darkness falls or unknowns overwhelm. But it’s true no matter the weather, and so may you daily choose to remain anchored to His Word and His heart toward you. He is constant, He is sure, He is good and kind and strong, a trustworthy hope and anchor for the soul.
His eyes are ever on you, His presence ever with you, His love ever for you. You don’t have to be more or do more. Instead, choose to anchor yourself in the rhythm of grace, knowing that your worth is secure in Him. As you step out in faith, listen for His voice and look for His hand. You’ll discover Him in the deep, and you will not sink.