Welcome to February — you’ve made it through one month of 2020! If January hit your resolutions hard, or you skipped the resolution process so you could also skip some extra pressure, then I want to welcome you to a place of promise. For the past few years, we at This Small Group have each chosen a word of the year that we prayed over and believed in, trusting that God would do something big in our lives through that word.
This “word of the year” trend has taken off in the last decade. A quick hashtag search on Instagram shows the growth in the trend — from three posts in 2012, to almost 500 in 2016, over a thousand in 2018, and already three thousand after one month of 2020!
Yearly words are especially evident in faith-based communities, where believers may find themselves frustrated by the culture of resolutions. Instead of making promises to themselves, promises that almost seem to ask to be broken, people are choosing to seek God for a word to guide their lives for one year. It clears the burden and pressure of living to an expectation, as well as eases the fear of failure. Consider some of the most common New Year’s resolutions, according to goskills.com:
- Exercise more.
- Lose weight.
- Get organized.
- Learn a new skill or hobby.
- Live life to the fullest.
- Save more money/Spend less money.
- Quit smoking.
- Spend more time with family and friends.
These easily become rules, which may seem legalistic to believers living in grace. In contrast, choosing a word to guide your year, words like health, budget, relationships, communicate, yes, and open, provide more freedom and are more likely to bring about authentic change. They apply to multiple aspects of one’s life — health could refer to mentality, spiritual well-being, exercise or dieting, or just an overall search for healthiness. There’s also a sense of freedom in self-talk — instead of saying “I can’t eat sugar because it’s my resolution,” someone can ask “What’s the best choice for my health?”
Keep reading to see our words of the year, and how we’re believing in God for 2020.
What is your word of the year?
Allie: So my word is expectations, but specifically letting go of them.
Abby: My word is consistency.
Hannah: I’m living out intentionality.
What process did you go through to settle on this word?
Hannah: For me, the word came on slowly. I actually thought I was being called to communicate, but I kept running into conversations where I was deciding to be intentional or spend time intentionally. The word seemed to be following me.
Abby: I reflect on the last year and spend a few weeks (or months sometimes) trying to see the common thread in what I feel like God is trying to teach me in multiple different areas in my life. Usually there is one idea that starts to stand out from the rest and bam, that’s my word!
Allie: This year, it came from a sermon I heard at my parents’ church the last Sunday of 2019. The guest pastor (who was actually the pastor I did confirmation with) preached about expectations and he said something that stuck with me: our expectations can get in the way of God’s opportunities.
What do you think God wants for you with this word?
Allie: I think God wants me to be open to how He wants to direct me and not be so focused on how I think things should go.
Abby: Right now I think God wants me to stop getting so caught up in the “one days” and the “what ifs” and focus on being faithful in the little things, and learning to do the small things well.
Hannah: It seems like God wants me to be more aware and careful in how I’m spending my time — and just see what He can do if I give Him the chance.
How do you plan to live out your word of the year?
Hannah: I’ve been setting limits for myself, and trying to be diligent about how much time I take to do tasks. I look at small jobs, like unloading the dishwasher, and give myself 5 minutes to unload it. When I get home, I work in the den, instead of dropping into the abyss of binge-watching.
Allie: I think I’m still figuring it out, but prayer is gonna be a big part of it (and yes, I know that’s the Sunday school answer, lol). On a small scale, when I start letting my thoughts go into how I expect this situation or that to go.
Abby: Hopefully I’ll be able to use my word as a guidepost, something I can ask myself when I’m looking at a project or activity. “Is this consistent with the calling God has out on my life?” “Am I consistently building skills?” etc. I like how applicable the word of the year idea is to every facet of my life, it makes growth so much more well-rounded!
As this new decade begins, This Small Group is believing God and following Him in the areas of consistency, expectations, and intentionality, and we’d love for you to join us with your own word of the year. The “One Word That Will Change Your Life” reading plan on the YouVersion Bible app is a great place to focus on God’s word for your life. Share your word in the comments, so we can continue encouraging and praying for each other.