If you spend any time on social media at all, you will have witnessed the annual New Year trend to choose a “word for the year.” You may have been inspired to jump on the bandwagon and choose a word of your own. You may have ordered a print with your word on it or even had it emblazoned on a t-shirt.
But when the grey days of winter faded away, what happened to your word? Was its heart still beating for you? Was it actively reminding you on hard days that you were supposed to be focusing on something bigger or deeper or more elementary than whatever was going off the rails right then? Did it perhaps get lost among the dishes and laundry, the carpools and business trips? Did the need for it fade a little with the heart-lifting onset of summer vacation?
My word for 2017 is sing. I took it from Zephaniah 3:14-20, a series of verses about God’s love for and victory on behalf of Israel. A friend sent them to me in December 2016, when my husband was overseas for a four-month work assignment and I was about to undergo a medical procedure that might have identified cancer in my lymph nodes. Things looked grey, indeed, and I needed to remember that victory was already mine in Christ, that no matter what happened, rejoicing was in my future.
There have been weeks this year when I haven’t thought much about my word, but I printed out those verses from Zephaniah and hung them on the wall next to my desk. Whenever I’m having a bad day or a bad week, somehow I seem to manage to remember to read them again.
Last week, I went to the salon to get my hair cut and highlighted. I was a bit overdue for both. As I drove through the rain on my way there, I contemplated asking Emily, my stylist, to add a streak of bright color to my hair. A debate was running in my mind. You might look ridiculous. But it would be so much fun. You’re too old to do something like this. Says who? Some people will stereotype you because of it. Let them!
I wanted the color in my hair to remind me on the grey days that life is beauty and art and spirit and joy–that I can have all of those things because of Jesus. My birthday had just passed, and I wanted it as a sort of celebration of being forty-two and loving being forty-two. I wanted the spirit of it–the singing spirit–a sort of carpe diem, if you will.
An hour later, as Emily finished blow-drying my hair, teasing my new, brilliant streak of turquoise into place, I couldn’t help smiling. It felt like I was wearing my word of the year.
Where is your word for 2017? Did you leave it by the side of the road months ago, or have you kept it close, treasuring its ability to inspire you and ground you in something true, good, and beautiful? If you abandoned it in the busyness of ordinary living, it’s not too late to find it again, to recapture the spirit of it in the last few months of 2017. Let’s live our best possible lives for the next 120 or so days.