I’m a writer and editor by trade, so it probably doesn’t come as a big surprise that I love words.
I get excited when I’m writing and a word that has been eluding me pops into my head, or when I’m revising something and the perfect replacement phrase just flows off my fingertips. But while I put a lot of thought into the words I use in paragraphs and sentences, when it comes to choosing a word for each new year, my approach is much more—um—arbitrary.
I’m intrigued by how other people select their words—how God often directs their hearts and minds through a process of elimination, Bible study and prayer. I actually look forward to early January because that’s when blog posts about One Words such as surrender, hope, voice (a favorite from last year) and incognito (the most unusual one I’ve seen so far this year) start flowing fast and furious.
That’s not normally how it works with me, however. For one thing, I rarely get my One Word post done in time to publish the first week of the new year. And for another, while past words like fruit and satisfied are connected to specific scriptures, they didn’t really come about as the result of study or prayer. They sort of just grew on me.
When the right word presents itself, “my knower knows,” as a former mentor used to say.
In December, I wrote a post about how fierce, my word for 2017, influenced my life. I’m not exaggerating when I say that, as the year unfolded in unexpected and sometimes heartbreaking ways, this One Word served as a sort of North Star for my heart, mind and emotions.
Even so (or maybe as a result), I had absolutely no energy or desire to think about choosing another one for this year. I was ready and possibly even eager to just ditch the whole idea for 2018 when another word started popping up on the radar screen of my mind.
In sermons, in my freelance work and other random places—there it was.
My first thought when I noticed what was happening? You have got to be kidding me.
What comes to mind when you think of this word? Maybe phrases like “bold and brash” or “bold and courageous.” Perhaps that oft-quoted line from the beginning of the Star Trek television show—“to boldly go where no one has gone before.”
In these contexts, the word bold implies traits like bravery, impetuousness or an adventurous spirit. (Just what I want to need more of in my life this year, right?)
But the word is used in other ways too. Interior decorators incorporate bold colors in their designs. Creative chefs blend bold flavors in their cooking. Successful coaches call bold plays. Bold statements, bold print, bold choices, bold moves—you get the picture.
After the year we just finished, maybe I should have selected a word for 2018 that evokes feelings of peace, grace or rest. Instead, a word that brings to mind synonyms like aggressive, stark and fearless chose me.
I had one idea about what fierce was going to mean in my life last year, and what actually transpired looked nothing like I had envisioned. So though it sounds a bit oxymoronic, I’m a bit apprehensive about where bold is going to take me in 2018.
If choosing this word only meant I could continue to wear bright colors and enjoy my favorite spicy chicken sandwiches from Chick-Fil-A, I’d be fine. But you and I have both been at this long enough to know that probably not how it’s going to go down.
I’m not about to make any predictions about how the word bold is going to influence or inspire me in 2018. I’m just going to leave it up to God and hang on for the ride.
Because whatever happens—in my life or yours—this much is certain: “The Lord of Hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold.” (Psalm 46:7)
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