Without realizing it, I’ve created a few traditions for the start of a new year. Before the calendar turns to January 1, I like to have in place the following things:
-a word of the year
-a reading list
-a plan for gift-giving
Each year, about mid-December, my mind settles into a rhythm of reflection. I generally don’t spend time thinking on the past, because I don’t find that to be productive. Too many hours pondering what I could have said, or what I wish I had done, only leads to problems with contentment. It’s better that I live in the present. But the start of a new year does seem to be an apt time to look at the year, as it draws to a close, and determine what I’d like to improve (and how I’d like to grow in the Lord) as the Earth makes another trip around the sun.
My chosen word for 2019 is certainly driven by the whirlwind that was the second half of 2018. Instead of living with any sort of intentionality, my cancer diagnosis necessitated (at least for a season) living in response to what came our way. But now that we’re nearing the end of that season, Lord willing, I find that my heart’s desire is to slow down . . . to move carefully through the new year . . . to enjoy the small joys that come with each day . . . to infuse my days with meaning. I want to approach each day and each appointment that God gives me with a proactive stance.
My word for 2019 is: PURPOSEFUL.
I chose this word over a few similar ones because its umbrella covers two facets of how I would like to approach the year. (Basically, I cheated and got two words for one!) Merriam-Webster defines purposeful as:
- meaningful (having a meaning or purpose)
- intentional (done by intention)
I’ve heard many people say that a cancer diagnosis changed their perspective on life. This certainly was the case for me. I came to realize how much time I wasted in a week, between my iPhone (both a blessing and a curse), social media, and TV streaming services, I had really slipped in terms of making sure my day was full of meaning and intentionality, with a mind set on glorifying God in all things.
I don’t want this to be the way I navigate 2019.
Instead, I want to approach each of my roles with the reminder that God has placed me in it. He has given me gifts in each role, and it is my job to steward them well and to strive to reflect His character in all I do. I sketched a mind map (yes, I’m a middle-grades educator), to begin to capture the fullness of my current lot. This certainly isn’t as extensive as it could be! But it was helpful for me to visually evaluate what being purposeful in each role will look like in the coming year.
As a believer, my relationship with God should take priority over all things. Through the spiritual disciplines and the gift of covenanting with our church, I will grow in my relationship with Him and in bearing the fruit of the Spirit.
The rest of my roles are subordinate to this, but each still carries its own weight. I am a wife, church member, daughter, sister, aunt, niece, cousin, friend, business owner, and cancer patient. This means I must cultivate my relationship with my husband; keep our home; use the time, talents, and resources God has given me, to His glory; maintain relationships with grace and intentionality; seek God’s wisdom in growing my business; and steward my body in a new way, as I recover from chemotherapy and seek to make our home (and the things we consume) cleaner, with fewer toxins.
Taking all of this in, in a single sweep, can be overwhelming! But day by day, as God offers me new mercies every morning, I resolve to seek His will and His wisdom in how to best steward each of these roles. Functionally? I resolve to remove Facebook from my phone (done), limit my streaming TV intake to a certain number of hours per week (quantity has yet to be determined), and not allow myself either of these luxuries until my Daily Essentials are complete. (More on those next week.)
My prayer is that, when the calendar turns to the year 2020, I will look back and see the movement of God’s guiding hand, a calendar full of meaningful and intentional experiences, and a heart that bursts with joy and contentment over 365 well-spent, God-glorifying days.
Do you choose a word for each new year? Comment below with your word for 2019!