When it gets close to the beginning each new year, you may hear about people choosing their “word of the year.” If you search Pinterest for the key phrase “word of the year” you will find TONS of articles about how to choose your word, lists of words to consider, and how to stay focused on your word. Then at the beginning of each new year you are supposed to change your word and set new goals. You’re supposed to use that word to grow in all areas of your life.
Personally, I prefer the method of choosing I was taught about at a woman’s conference about 5 years ago. She said that we should seek God and ask Him to give us a word. A word, or even a phrase, that describes what He plans to grow in us in the coming year, how He plans to use us, or something He wants us to hang on to throughout the events coming up.
My Word of the Year for 2019
I had never had a word of the year before. Even after I had prayed for one at the end of the previous few years. I just figured that it wasn’t how the Lord deals with me, because He works in each individual’s life differently as He sees fit. However for this year, without me even asking, He dropped “change” into my spirit right around Christmas time 2018.
At that point I had already seen some changes happening in my life. In November I had pulled our elementary aged kids out of private school to start homeschooling. That decision alone made changes to our schedule, our finances, and our plans for the next several years.
Following that, we had a situation come into our lives that caused us to pursue getting licensed for foster care. We then got our kinship care placement near the end of March. As you might expect, this change caused us to use our time differently (taking classes, transporting to visits, etc), re-arrange our schedule again, become involved with the local public school, and it altered our family dynamics a bit.
In October, the little ones we were fostering went home. That change was full of conflicting emotions; the joy of reunification, the pain of loss, and the transition in roles we play in the children’s lives. We’ve also just changed our license from kinship care to community care, and are now available to foster other children.
Those were a few of the major changes, but there have been a lot of smaller ones too. I took on babysitting (for free) 2 other children throughout this past summer. We have had to alter some of our family’s holiday traditions recently. My mom moved, so when we visit we go somewhere different than we have for most of our children’s lives. Changes at church as far as children aging out of my class, new ones aging up into it, and changes in volunteers. Most recently, new babies born into our extended family! Those and many other little things add up to make it seem like things are in constant transition.
My Issues with Change
The problem I was facing with my word for 2019, and all the changes happening in my life, is that I was afraid of change. I have always hated it. I would get an upset stomach over it, worry about it day and night if I new a change was coming, and I obsessed over every detail until I (thought I) had it all figured out. Or I would try to avoid change all together and hold on for dear life to what I was used to. Being pulled out of my comfort zone made me anxious and miserable.
But, God. He certainly knows what he’s doing. Obviously, my fear of change was more than an issue of personal preference. It was a faith issue. A lack of trust in my Creator.
Growing in my Faith through Change
I believe now that God gave me the word change for this year as a little “heads up!” about what to expect. Not only because of everything happening with my circumstances, but about what is happening in myself as well. He is growing my faith by allowing me to walk through changes, both major and minor, while being by my side through it all.
One particular worship song we sing at church has been a good reminder to me about where God is in all of the changes. It’s called One Thing Remains by, Jesus Culture. Some of the lyrics say,
“Higher than the mountains that I face
Stronger than the power of the grave
Constant through the trial and the change
One thing remains
This one thing Remains
Your love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on me”
A verse in the Bible that I have held on to since I was an older teen is Isaiah 43:2, which says,
“When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze”
Its so comforting to me to know that God is always with me. And because He is here with me, I will not be overcome by the fires or the floods that I walk through. I have known it for a long time, but I have grown more in my understanding of this fact over the last several months.
Another scripture that I have been meditating on is Hebrews 13:8. It says,
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”
Through this verse, and others like it, I am learning to find comfort in my unchanging God, rather than getting too comfortable in my comfort zone.
When I was doing a search of the Bible for the keyword “change” I came across this verse in Daniel that stood out to me too:
“And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding.” Daniel 2:21
I love the point I gleaned from this and the previous scriptures combined. God Himself never changes, but He is in control of all the changes that happen in the world, and He is walking with us through it all!
It’s not a new teaching or thought, I think Christ followers typically understand this concept. Its when the concept goes from knowledge in our mind to an understanding in our soul that we truly “get it” and can walk it out in our lives.
A New Year, and a New Word of the Year
Here we are, coming up on Christmas again, and anticipating a new year. I’ve been in prayer, and asked the Lord if he has another word for me for 2020. It’s a phrase that keeps coming back to me this time: “all things new”. I don’t know what that means right now. God hasn’t elaborated to me what to expect. I get the impression, though, that I could not have a year of “all things new” if I hadn’t had a year of learning about change and deepening my faith through it.
Has God ever given you a word of the year? Or have you chosen one for yourself? How have you grown and learned through it? Let’s talk about it in the comments!