Faith Reflections

My 2018 Word-for-the-Year

For the past five years, I’ve done a “word-for-the-year” rather than new year’s resolutions. I wrote about it first in 2014 here. I wrote about my word for 2018 here. Many of you have joined me in this new approach to embracing a new year with a single word and I love it when you share your word with me.

I love a single word so much more than resolutions. Resolutions tend to make me focus on behavioral changes which don’t always last and often result in more guilt rather than growth.

But a guiding word for the year makes me hopeful and excited, like the beginning of a scavenger hunt where the things awaiting discovery this year are unknown to me but I am gleefully optimistic they will lead me to a more grounded, content, healthier (in multiple ways) me.

What my family, friends, and world need most is the best version of me that I can possibly be, accomplishing the most good with the one life I’ve been given.

Joshua Becker

My word for 2018 was awake. I’ve spent a lot of time studying the Enneagram the past two years. As an Enneagram 9, I default to being “asleep” – asleep to what I want, what I need, what I like, what I feel. Nines are mediators, peace-lovers. We hate conflict and anything that disturbs the peace – externally and internally. Sometimes, the easiest thing to do is to go to sleep emotionally and mentally. If we don’t have a preference or an opinion or if we just go along or merge with others, we are less likely to cause or experience conflict. 

There are many good things about this. In general, I truly am laid back, go with the flow, and open to lots of things. I almost never care where we eat and my Spotify playlists are all over the spectrum. Sometimes I’m feeling Linkin Park. Sometimes I’m in need of some Rachmaninoff. I like a lot of different things and I struggle to commit to favorites. I think this helps me relate to a lot of different people and be open to multiple ways of seeing and doing things. It is very easy for me to see (and feel) both sides.

This past year I’ve spent time honoring the good in how God wired me. I’m grateful that I am a calming and accepting presence for many. I’m glad that I don’t add to the chaos that is so prevalent in our world. I’m thankful God gave me an abundance of empathy for others. 

I’ve also spent time waking up. I’m learning to speak up for things I want or need or prefer even if I fear it might lead to conflict. (Note: my fears were usually way off.) I meet monthly with a spiritual director to improve on being awake to my emotions and feelings rather than dismiss them as not being as important as others. I’ve been through some hard and disappointing things this year and instead of burying the pain deep within, I’ve laid it out, exposed on the table before me and God – on multiple occasions. Is it harder than being asleep to it? Absolutely. But I’ve come to desire the freedom of feeling over the prison of numbing. 

I’m still nailing down my word for 2019 in these final weeks, but I wanted to take a moment or two to acknowledge and savor the journey of waking up in 2018. We’re often rushing too quickly to the next thing and missing the beauty of what is. Advent, a season of preparation and waiting, is a perfect time to do this. To slow down, to be grateful for what is and to be hopeful about what is to come.

What can you savor from your 2018? What gains can you see from your one-word journey or your life-lessons from 2018? I would love to hear and celebrate with you.

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