Every year for the past four years I have chosen a word (or words) of the year to pray through, journal about, and hold as a theme for the 12 months ahead. It has been an incredible journey to look back on, and so interesting to see how these words helped shape the months as they unfolded.
2013 was ADVENTURE and HOPE.
2014 was SURRENDER.
2015 was BRAVE and GOLD.
2016 was BELIEVE.
2017 is SIMPLIFY.
Adventure was the year the Lord led me to Seattle, a true adventure I never could have imagined for myself. He provided the hope and the answer to that hope in the form of sweet community, great jobs, and a beautiful new city. It was a reminder that a life held in open hands can lead to incredible things.
Surrender was the year that God re-routed me again, asking me to set down the new life I'd built and move to Oklahoma for graduate school. He told me it would be an isolating season, and while I wanted to run for the hills, by His grace I made it to yet another new city and a new college experience entirely. It was a reminder that He sees the big picture and has goodness in the midst of doubt.
Brave was the year that kept saying yes even when it was hard, choosing to (and praying to) be bold with trust. It held a gift of pure gold as I got to do what I love as the lead in a play that forever changed my life, then in the fall directed a show that means just as much. It was a reminder that God gives us talents and passions for a reason, and He will equip us to take the leaps of faith.
Believe it or not, I never wrote in-depth about my word of the year for last year, but let me tell you it did WORK. I had to choose to believe in the goodness of God many times, as 2016 held many months of highs and lows, hopes unfulfilled and disappointments. It also held answered prayers and glimpses of His grandeur as He showed up again and again along the way. It was a reminder of the basis of my faith, that is FAITH in something we cannot see, TRUSTing in the One above who sees it all.
Simplify hit me at the end of November, and I mean that almost literally. I usually don't start thinking about my word of the year until mid-to-late December, but one afternoon in November the word landed in my lap like a ton of bricks, nearly knocking the wind out of me. It was that reaction, the I'm-so-terrified-I'm-kind-of-excited moment, that made me certain it was the one.
Simplify is not an easy, passive word.
Simplify is active, a verb that necessitates movement.
Simplify means taking a hard look at what is, and narrowing. Changing. Stripping things away.
Simplify is not a word that has much room in my life these days.
I over-complicated, over-schedule, and over-do it. Frequently. Simplifying means letting go, trimming the excess, choosing less over more. Slow over fast. No over yes. My insides are squirming just thinking about it.
But that's what I wanted for this year, what I needed. Last year, I believed and I saw the Lord answer. This year I want to take what He has given me and steward it well: my time, my people, my job, my passions, my world.
I want to simplify the way I fill my planner, saying yes to what's most important and no to the trivial.
I want to simplify my routines, cultivating good, sustainable habits that will carry me forward.
I want to simplify my belongings, learning to be content instead of craving what's trendy.
I want to simplify to thrive, operating at my prime not in survival mode any more.
I want to get back to the basics. I want to lift the weight of things and commitments and less-than-the-bests off my shoulders, walking in freedom, rest, and from a cup overflowing not one running on empty.
That's what simplify means to me. That's why I'm excited. That's why I'm nervous. It is going to take day after day of actively choosing to take things out and put less in. It is going to mean some clean slates and some re-organizing of patterns that have settled in (intentionally or otherwise) that are causing too much noise or sputtering out on their own.
It's going to be uncomfortable, and I know I won't be good at it right away. But, boy, am I excited to jump in!
What about you? Have you chosen a word for the year for 2017?