One Little Word: 2016

I’ve shared here before that for several years now, I’ve chosen a word of the year. I’m not very good at following through on goals and resolutions, but I love the fresh start that a New Year offers and want to acknowledge it somehow. I don’t want to set myself up for failure with a long list of daunting and impossible platitudes, but I do want to begin the year with intention, honoring what I think God is doing in my heart right now and what I think He’s calling me towards in the year ahead. And so, I choose a word. For the past two years, my word has been “free,” and I’ve learned to lean into the freedom Christ offers, liberating myself (little by little) from perfectionism and approval-seeking.

Even after two years, I still learn more freedom and its implications every single day. I have such a long way to go! So much so, I was tempted to choose “free” as my word yet again, but as I mulled it over, I sensed that it was time to choose something new. The truth is, because freedom is something Christ offers, a characteristic of His now-but-not-yet Kingdom, I don’t think I will ever be done with it (at least, not until Christ Himself returns and restores us to Eden). I will carry “free” with me every year from now on, because it wasn’t just about 2014 or 2015, but it is about my entire life and my entire identity.

Ever year, my word has just somehow come to me. Maybe it’s the Holy Spirit, but I can’t explain the dynamics of it. I just know that each year, I’ve landed on a word and it’s usually only after I’ve chosen it that the reason becomes clear. If 2014 and 2015 were about being set free from what’s held me back (perfectionism, approval, fear, etc.), I wanted 2016 to be about what I’ve been set free for. In the same way that Jesus doesn’t just save us from sin but saves us for His glory and the benefit of those around us, I know that freedom has greater implications.

And so, my word for 2016 is joy.

I bucked against it at first. It felt too simple, too obvious, too Inside Out. I started asking my friends what words they were choosing, reading blog posts and Facebook comments about others’ words, and I started making mental notes of all the potential words I might choose. “Joy” felt small, and I wanted big, life-changing, profound. But I shouldn’t be surprised that as He’s been doing in every area of my life, Jesus kept calling me back to the small place where I started. In the days leading up to New Years, I kept thinking about joy. I heard it it songs, read about it in books and blogs, and I was suddenly more cognizant of all the ways it is sometimes missing from my life. Even more than that, I was more aware of the ways it is present in my life, but ignored.

Joy feels like a natural outcropping of free. It’s true that my perfectionism and approval-seeking might have brought accomplishment and reputation into my life, but they also robbed my life of joy. So, learning to be free from perfectionism means, in part, growing more aware of joy. I’m ready to go there.

And of course, only 3 days into 2016, joy has shown up in surprising and unexpected ways.

Here’s to a joyful year ahead.

Have you chosen a word for the year, or are you more a resolutions type? I’d love to hear what you’re hoping for 2016!

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