After sharing “January + Thoughts About a New Year” last week, I knew I had to follow up with even more thoughts about the new year. Because, while I do ease in … I also do it with a lot of intention. Sooo … yes, I am one of those people who does a word-of-the-year. I’m sure you’re all shocked to hear this revelation! 😉
For me, selecting a word-of-the-year is an entirely spiritual experience. It didn’t start out that way. I can’t actually remember the first year that I started selecting a word-of-the-year and I couldn’t tell you what that first word was … or what half of my “words” have been. I probably just picked a word that first year or two – something I wanted to focus on. And, that’s a totally normal approach. Totally fine. My approach just happens to have evolved over the years and now there’s a lot of margin around it and … I let the word pick me. Well, actually I let God pick the word for me. And, maybe you think I sound completely off-my-rocker right now, but that’s what I do. It involves surrender. A setting aside. A listening. A waiting. A knowing. I ask God for it. I do. I pray about it. I ask God for a verse and word. I ask Him to show me what I should focus on – what my “theme” should be for the year. Then, I get still. I listen. I read. And, it comes. Not immediately. But, usually fairly quickly. It comes.
Before you knock it, try it. Even if you feel a little crazy. Even if you’re pretty sure I AM crazy. Ask God. He’ll show you. He will. I know this because I didn’t always know this …
Once upon a time, a girl in a bible study that I was attending kept talking about these verses that she was “given.” For different things that were happening in and around her life. She’d often say things like, “God gave me this verse.” And, I was floored. God just gave her verses?! I felt … you know what I felt? I felt desire. I felt envious. I wanted that. I wanted a deeper relationship with God. I wanted him to send me verses! So, I decided to try asking. I asked for them. Then, I dusted off my Bible. Because I knew, in that moment, the reason God hadn’t been giving ME verses was because I hadn’t been asking and I hadn’t been listening. I wasn’t waiting expectantly for them to come. So, I asked. I read. I listened. And, they came. The verses came. Promises came. Life lines. Anchors. They came and they kept coming. They haven’t stopped coming.
Those verses. Words. Promises. Life lines. Anchors. They are there for you too.
As 2021 was coming to a close, I still didn’t know what my “word” for 2022 was going to be. December got a bit crazy and I spent zero time looking toward the new year. But, when I was ready, I asked, and immediately I felt the words “roots” or “root” press upon my heart. Really, this time it was instantaneous. But “roots” seemed like a really weird word to be my word-of-the-year. How was it meant for me? What did it mean? I was drawn back to a Beth Moore book that I’d read earlier in the year called “Chasing Vines”. I pulled it off my bookshelf and yep, sure enough, there was a whole chapter on Roots. Then, I dove back into the Bible and looked for more verses on roots and there are so, so many.
I knew which verses were for me. There were two sets of verses that I felt were meant to be mine for the year …
Ephesians 3:17-20 ~ “Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. May you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.”
These verses hold a promise and a knowing for me. I understand them. I hold them dear and close. I am loved by Christ, more than I can know or understand. This is a truth. When I know it as truth, my roots grow down. They hold. They are anchored.
Isaiah 37:30-32 ~ “This year you will eat only what grows up by itself, and the next year you will eat what springs up from that. But in the third year you will plant crops and harvest them; you will tend vineyards and eat their fruit… put roots down in your own soil and grow up and flourish.”
“Put roots down in your own soil and grow up and flourish”
This feels like a glimpse. A peek behind the curtain. I’m not entirely sure what it means. There is a mystery around it – but I know there’s something in it for me and I know, in time, I will understand it more. Down is the way up. There won’t be growth, there won’t be fruit, if I don’t first allow myself to root. The shoot can’t last without the root. I know I’m supposed to focus on the roots. My roots. Where do I want my roots to take hold – to firmly anchor me? Where and to whom?
And, I know that I’m also supposed to focus on my “soil.” To make sure my soil is good. To water it. To feed it good nutrients.
And so, this year, my word is ROOTS. I’m going to focus on my roots … making sure they grow down into God’s love and grow strong – bear fruit – be a great oak – watered and planted by the grand river of God’s love. Back to my roots. My own roots. No one else’s. “Put roots down in your own soil.”
Root/s. It actually feels like a beautiful continuation from my 2021 word-of-the-year, which was RUN. My verse last year was Hebrews 12:1-2 which says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding it’s shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.” Last year I focused on running my own race. Living my own life. Not looking around so much. Letting go of comparison. This year I will continue to carry that word and verse with me. Adding more “roots” to it. Growing it into my own soil. It’s an untaming. A letting go of “supposed to” and a freeing myself of “shoulds”, a ripping off of expectations and the pictures that I’ve carried in my mind for far too long of what I should be doing. It all feels like a step forward on the same path and I can see where I’m growing and why. A gradual stepping. I’m definitely not done with last year’s word. Our words are not meant to be chapters that start and end or open and close. They are more of a collecting. An adding to. A layering. A becoming.
So, how is this all applicable to actual day-to-day life? I think it’s mostly about prioritizing the things that are really important to me. Being laser focused on what matters most. Asking myself, “where do I want to invest my time and grow deeper roots?”
After a little introspection, I made a list to get me started …
Where do I want to invest my time and grow deeper roots?
- Faith (growing my faith; growing my relationship with God)
- Family (quality time)
- Friends (quality time; focusing on core friendships I’d like to grow and nurture)
- Home (focus on what it means to create a home that reflects my family and how to help other families do the same)
- Passion (look at what I’m passionate about; what I’m curious about)
- Words (writing and reading)
- Creativity (look at where I’m being drawn creatively)
- Rest (allow myself rest without shame)
- Fuel (feed myself healthy food that makes my body feel good)
- Movement (focus on exercise that I actually enjoy)
- Nature (more time outdoors)
- Less time on my phone and social media
I’d love to hear your thoughts. I’d love, love to hear your word-of-the-year and how you select your word each year. And, if words-of-the-year aren’t for you … is there a practice that you love to do for yourself at the start of a new year?