Faith Reflections

Why I Hate My Word for 2019

I’ve blogged before about my annual tradition of choosing a word/intention for the year rather than making resolutions. It has been a game-changer for me in my pursuit to continually grow and learn how to become more like Christ each year.

Here are my past words of intention:

  • 2014: Courageous
  • 2015: Freedom
  • 2016: Today
  • 2017: Health
  • 2018: Awake

This is my sixth year and usually, the words I choose are inspiring and positive – words I can find on shiny jewelry or flowery, hand-lettered prints for sale on Etsy. But not this year. I can’t imagine it will ever be cross-stitched on a pillow or etched into silver, hanging around someone’s neck.

My word for 2019.

My word for 2019 is …… submit.

I hate this word.

I hate it for the abuse associated with it over the years. In relationships. In the church. In the work place. It has been misused to justify oppression and, if there is one thing I cannot stomach, it is oppression. There is so much baggage with the word submit.

But I especially hate it because I hate to submit.

When the word first came to mind while driving north on Hwy 63 a week ago, it took me about ten seconds to recognize God’s voice in this. To be perfectly honest, my first response was a curse word. At which point, I’m pretty sure I heard God say with a laugh, “I rest my case.”

Submit is defined as “to accept or yield to a superior force or to the authority or will of another person.” Does anyone like to do this?

The foundation was layed for this back in October when I was more awake to the futility of a life centered on me. In my times with the Lord, I was reminded often of how much navel-gazing robs me of the abundant and free life God passionately desires for me/us and for those whom I/we encounter each day. I discussed with my spiritual director that I was beginning to lean toward spending 2019 focused on getting over myself. To intentionally work on living more selflessly.

Oh, sure, there were faint whispers of the word submit way earlier than late December, but I was able to keep it at bay. I found other ways of saying it like “trust” or “surrender” or “selflessness”. But all of these were my attempts to reach for something. It may be simple semantics, but in my spirit, those words allowed room for a little bit of control and pleasantries.

But not submit. When I hear the word submit, I hear something entirely different. I feel something entirely different. I feel the angst of laying down my will for God’s. I feel the internal fight to acquiese my plan or agenda for another’s. I feel the vulnerability of not being in control of my life and the shame of not having and not sharing the last word.

So, why choose submit as my word for 2019?

Because as sure as I know Heinz should have never invented various colored ketchup in 2000, I also know that on the other side of submission is the true freedom my spirit seeks.

Author, teacher, and philosopher Dallas Willard defines submission as “abandoning outcomes to God”. According to author Bill Gaultiere, submission is “letting go of trying to…

  • Make things happen (even for God!)
  • Get people to like you or think well of you
  • Get people on board with your agenda
  • Ensure that you succeed

Submission is self-denial out of love for God and others.

Living Out My Word in 2019

How do I plan to lean into submission in 2019? Honestly, I haven’t spent much time on the specifics yet. Which is a great first step. God and I have some work to do on reframing my understanding of submission until my heart and spirit can embrace the beauty rather than the baggage.

To begin, I’m practicing a daily centering prayer to be totally open to God and to abandon the outcomes of the day, even the hour to the One I can trust to be in control.

Contemplative prayer is not about grasping, striving, controlling, comprehending, but is more about letting go and submitting to God. Contemplative prayer is about letting go of our thoughts and our striving and letting God take control.

I’ve listened to a few podcasts and have read a few articles. I have noted some books I plan to read on submission as well. But the real work will be in the daily letting go. And while I hate the word and I am sure I am going to hate some a lot of the work, every step will be worth it as I cling in desperation to the One who calls me Beloved.

Do you have a word or intention for 2019? I believe there is power and accountability in sharing our words. Leave a comment about what you intend to pursue in 2019.

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  • Ken Enloe

    Really like this idea and I have not tried it in the past. Of course you know my word for every year is REAL but I want to pray and think on this before picking one for 2019. To Be Continued. Thanks.

    • Ken

      CONVERSATIONS! Not sure why this came to the top of mind but it clearly has. I see so many situations in our world today where we just don’t sit down and talk to each other. We talk ABOUT others or talk TO others and I also do this with God. I just don’t often enough have a REAL, quite, intimate conversation to really share my heart and then listen to Him. I want to be a better listener in every conversation and really try to hear what others are saying not just be thinking about the next thing I’m going to say.

      I am really anxious and excited to see where this will go and I hope you will help me with accountability. Thank you for the challenge.

      • Melissa

        I love this word, Ken! You are absolutely right about the lack of real, honest, and vulnerable conversations and our desperate need for them. Love this intention for your 2019. Let’s both keep each other accountable.

  • Jeanie mcgowan

    You always inspire me, Melissa. As I’ve considered a new word for a new year (last year was “intentional”), I believe I was not as intentional as I would like to have been! However, thay’s OK. I forgive myself and cherish any signs of intentionality I see. Humility is one I’ve already been working on. Foolish pride, needing to be right, over/concerns about appearance and other frivolous things have been diminishing. I thank God! But I still have a long way to go. So Humility is my 2019 word. Richard Rohr prays for some humiliation every day lest he become too prideful. I’m definitely not there yet! Love you, girl!

    • Melissa

      Thank you, Jeanie, and I hear you – both on the grace to oneself and on the need to work on humility! Pride is definitely a huge part of my struggle with submission. Grateful for your friendship and leadership in my life! Here’s to 2019!

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