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.
Honestly, I’m pretty sure the world has already moved on. And truly, I didn’t think I’d wait this long to say it and maybe at this point, no one cares.
That’s alright by me.
The apartment is silent, the sky pitch-black outside, a dog is barking on the other side of the window as a siren whirs by, and I’m sitting here wrapped in the red blanket with fringe as the candle flickers beside me, writing these words because I think one day I’ll want to remember.
It began in October. Quietly, slowly, the rhythmic drip-drop of a faucet.
I listened carefully and lived with my eyes wide open, watching the splatter of this one particular word begin to color conversations and show up in song lyrics, sermons and podcasts.
There are people who pick a word of the year and there are people who can’t escape the word that picks them. I’m in the second group, and this year, I didn’t want it.
I didn’t want the word that seemed to want me.
Not at first, anyway.
I wasn’t ready to drop anchor, to let go of the word that even now brings tears to my eyes. It was exactly the right word for 2019 in ways I imagined and in others I couldn’t have seen when the year began.
When I think back on 2019, grief and gratitude immediately come to mind. I grew a lot over the past two years. I also lost a lot over the past two years. The two seem to go hand-in-hand.
In June of 2019, I put these four words onto the letterboard sitting atop my dresser. It’s March of 2020 now and the words are still there, somewhat defeating the purpose of the letterboard but alas, I still need to see the promise today.
I’m not sure anyone is “good” at grief, but I know I’m not. I also know that I’m learning and He’s teaching, that I’m not yet who I will be but praise God, I’m not who I once was.
This is our collective story, isn’t it? The details differ but together we all say “I was once blind . . . but now I see.” Even if we only know and see in part (1 Corinthians 13:9), we see more today than we did yesterday. Or last month. Or last year.
Anchor arrived in the middle of the storm. Some days it looked like holding onto hope. Some nights it looked like believing Hope was holding onto me. In rough seas, the question returned with the wind: what will you tie yourself to? When the pillow is soaked and your knees are sore, where will you place your security? As light dawns and waters still, again you must decide, now where does your security lie? In the answered prayer itself — or in the One who answered? Is the Anchor enough?
He’s enough through it all.
Maybe the word will change, I told myself in October. It’s so cheesy, I thought in November. What a cliché, I complained to no one in particular in December.
But I saw it everywhere, and I know by now that the Word always knows best.
That isn’t a capitalization mistake. Every year, my word of the year points me directly to the Word of God and the Word who put on skin. It isn’t that way for everyone, I know. But it’s true for me, and it really does come to mind multiple times a week throughout the year, so the choice isn’t made lightly.
Or maybe it’s never even made, never even a choice, but more of an acceptance.
Maybe you’ve picked up on it by now, seen the subtle hints throughout this post or noticed the hashtag I’ve used in several Instagram captions this year.
Maybe you caught it in that last sentence.
Maybe you’re shaking your head or shrugging your shoulders at this point, certain you’ve missed it but not sure what you’ve missed.
That’s kind of the point, actually.
My word of the year for 2020 is see.
It’s small and easy to miss — unless you’re looking for it.
Would it surprise you to know that starting on January 1st, I began saving Instagram posts with the word “see” — and I’ve already passed 65?
How do you miss something that’s everywhere, hiding in plain sight?
Sight. There it is again.
It’s a cliché, to be sure. I doubt I’m the only one conveniently focusing on the word see during the year 2020. Because 20/20 vision, right But also, good grief it’s a challenge and an invitation all wrapped up in one.
It’s a gift, too, although I’m not entirely sure how just yet. But I do know this: when I look back over the words that have colored 2018 and 2019, this “new” word was there the entire time.
And I have to wonder if maybe, in some way, He’s simply saying “I’ve seen you all along.”
Last year, in the post about my 2019 word of the year, I included this image:
Now it’s my turn now to shake my head and shrug my shoulders (and blink back tears) because it’s literally RIGHT THERE.
He’s so kind. And He’s so funny.
See and anchor, holding hands.
Don’t even get me started on see and sea — I promise you, the fact that see is following right behind anchor is not lost on me in the slightest. This picture was taken on the Sea of Galilee six months into 2018. I didn’t think anything of it and had no idea what it would mean to me later, when 2019 arrived and “anchor” became my word of the year, but He did. He knew.
The following paragraph is from my 2018 word of the year post:
“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. 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 know that see will surprise me, that this time next year I’ll be amazed at how three letters shaped and challenged and encouraged me in ways that right here and right now, I can’t possibly imagine.
But for today, I’m sitting right here as one day turns into the next, more than a little overwhelmed at the thread woven through. I needed behold before anchor arrived, and now I’m carrying both with me into the coming days even as I come back to a word that has met me every morning for over a decade.
I’ve retraced the lines of fading ink, taped and retaped the lime green sticky note to half a dozen mirrors and dorm room desks and apartment doors since 2009.
I was in a dark place then, as dark as the sky stretching above tonight, but like the candle flickering on the table, the truth on this note was enough light to see by, enough strength to take the next step, enough hope to believe that I wasn’t alone.
“See, love? I’ve been here all along.”
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 chose a word for 2020!
The promise is true: one day, our faith will be made sight. But that day is not today. And so here and now, in this in between, there’s a question you must answer.
What lens will you look through? There’s meaning in the mundane. Every in between matters, so don’t rush through and hurry quite so fast to the other side. You’ll miss the miracle in the middle. It’s going to take time, probably more time than you would have chosen, but God is never late so you might as well slow down and look around while you’re here.
Light a candle and watch the wisps of smoke rise as you blow it out. Lace up your shoes and go for a walk. Notice the wind blowing your hair back, the sound of leaves rustling and birds singing, the laughter of children throwing rocks into the pond. Put your phone away and open your eyes. Squint if you have to, but keep looking. There is goodness waiting to be found, and it’s likely going to show up in the seemingly small and insignificant. Don’t be fooled. There’s beauty in the ordinary.
May you see God’s kindness in ways you couldn’t have imagined and may others see that kindness in you. May you hold tightly to what you know to be true in the Light when the night arrives. When fog rolls in and you aren’t sure which way to go, remember to turn to the Way. It may look like you’re surrounded, but you’re always surrounded by His presence. So take the time you need. Take a breath. Take a nap. Rest. You’re going to see a victory, but you don’t have to know all the answers or hold it all together. You don’t have to hurry or hustle or scramble to seize the day. What if, instead, you simply chose to see the day?
The thing about choosing to look long and hard is that you’ll see pain and brokenness, too. It is not your burden alone to bare, but you must not turn away. This is a difficult work and it’s going to hurt. There will be a cost to pay, but Lord willing one day you’ll look back and be so glad you paid it.
Pay attention to what you pay attention to. If you choose to seek Him, you are guaranteed to find Him (Jeremiah 29:13). And you’ll find Him everywhere.
But when you can’t… when you can hardly see or hear or feel Him near, remember that just because you can’t clearly see something doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist.
It’s okay to come with your tears and your fears, your hopes and your dreams, your questions and your concerns. It’s okay to ask “where were You?” He won’t shame you; He’ll show you. He was always there, always watching, always with you and for you and carrying you through. Look for His fingerprints. You’ll find them on every page of your story.
And when it seems like no one sees you, when you feel like unwanted leftovers, overlooked or picked over, know that this is true even if you can’t see how just yet: you are never hidden from His sight.
All those seemingly unseen moments? The pillow wet with tears, the afternoon dance parties, the times you’ve called for help and ended up giving it instead, the folding of blankets and washing of dishes and running of errands? Love has seen it all.
May you learn to see yourself through the lens with which God sees you. You are gloriously ordinary, a miracle and a mess, and it’s okay to be exactly who you are.
There is One who never takes His eyes off you, who just can’t bring Himself to look away. You are seen. All of you, every worry and fear and inch and tear and smile and sorrow and freckle. His name is El Roi, the God who sees, and He will see you through.