I knew what my OneWord for 2017 was going to be early last fall. I normally wouldn’t even think about such things until December, but when I started hearing a new song on the radio by a group called Jesus Culture, I just knew.
At the time, choosing this particular collection of letters as my word for the year didn’t make sense. It didn’t seem to fit me at all—quite the opposite, in fact. Honestly, I had no idea why it struck me so.
But it did.
You might think that, knowing the word so early, I would have written a blog post about it weeks before we said good-bye to 2016. Now that would be like me, to do something like that.
But again, no.
My lack of motivation may have been connected to the fall we had, which was full of events and developments—some expected, some not—that were taxing in all kinds of ways. Or maybe it had to do with the blogging tradition of recapping the previous year’s word before you talk about your new one.
In 2016, my word was “satisfied,” and it came with a daily commitment to pray Psalm 90:14: “Satisfy us in the morning with your faithful love so that we may shout for joy and be glad all our days.”
I kept that pledge, mostly, but I don’t have much else to report about it. There were no big breakthroughs, no dramatic transformations or revelations regarding contentment or satisfaction. In fact, in some ways, I may have ended the year less satisfied than I began it.
That said, I believe God’s Word is powerful. I believe He is faithful to hear and answer our prayers. So I’m holding fast to my conviction that praying Psalm 90:14 (which I’m still doing this year, by the way) is accomplishing something, even if the results are mostly hidden right now.
I feel strongly about this because of what I’ve experienced with my word from 2015. That year, the word was “fruit,” and it also came with a daily charge—to pray for the fruit of the Spirit (from Galatians 5:22-23) to grow in the lives of everyone in my home.
Asking God to allow love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control to transform the hearts of my family members had a huge impact—on me. As I prayed for all of us, I realized my own desperate need for growth in each of these areas.
And, slowly but surely, it began to happen.
More than anything else, praying for the fruit of the Spirit has made me more aware of the opportunities I have to demonstrate these attributes (or not). Even when I make the wrong choice, as I often do, I’m much more cognizant of it, which—strangely enough—somehow makes me want to do better the next time.
But it wasn’t until this past November—after nearly two years of praying this way—that I caught a tangible glimpse of the powerful impact it was having in my life. Throughout my adult years, you see, I’ve typically been very anxious during presidential election seasons. This year, of all years, I would have expected more of the same.
That’s not what I experienced, however.
Instead of fear, I felt peace. I wasn’t apathetic or unconcerned, but I wasn’t obsessed or spun up either.
It was remarkable, maybe even miraculous. And there was nothing I could have done to accomplish it myself.
A few weeks after the election, I felt like I was one thread yank away from completely unraveling. (I’m a work in progress, obviously.) But during the weeks leading up to Election Day, the peace of God that transcends understanding was clearly at work in my mind and heart.
In the most circuitous way imaginable, this all leads to my OneWord for 2017.
The Jesus Culture song that caught my attention last fall describes God’s relentless pursuit of His children in terms of His “fierce” love for us. (If you’re not familiar with the song, you can find it here.)
Fierce is not an adjective I would ever attach to myself. But the idea that God’s love for me could be fierce made me start thinking that maybe my love for others could be fierce too. And if love can be fierce, why not patience, joy, gentleness and the rest of the fruit of the Spirit?
I’m not talking fierce in a Beyonce-Ronda Rousey-Bengal tiger sort of way. Rather, I see it as an attitude that is relentless. Deep. Intense. Determined. Intentional, fervent, unwavering. Exactly how I want to be when it comes to demonstrating the fruit of the Spirit to the people around me.
As I look ahead to a year that promises to be challenging—perhaps even transformative—for my family, I’m starting to get a feel for why God may have impressed this word on my heart last fall. I don’t know exactly what the future holds, but I know how I need to conduct myself on the way there.
By the way … I know I’m a little late to the OneWord party, but if you’ve chosen a word for 2017, I’d love to know what it is (and maybe even why you chose it).