I just love the fresh start of a new year, but as a goal-driven perfectionist and a rule follower, I have a complicated history with New Year’s resolutions. In my younger years, I would set ambitious goals for myself every January 1 (because that’s what you do!), then spend months struggling to keep up. Some of those goals were achieved. Others fell by the wayside, resulting in personal feelings of inadequacy over my inability to adhere to overzealous resolutions I hadn’t really needed to make in the first place.
In my late twenties I dabbled with giving up on New Year’s resolutions altogether, then eventually made peace with my habit of setting goals and achieving about half of them. To that end, in 2018 I listed out 18 dreams and to-do items I had hoped to achieve or accomplish within the year. Twelve of those items were checked off my list, most of which never would have happened if my list hadn’t existed, so I’m deeming the year a success. This year, I have a personal list of 19 goals and dreams for 2019. Some are likely pipe dreams, others are small tasks I can accomplish in a day, and a few are little things I think might be fun to do this year. I’ll be holding these items loosely, celebrating my wins if they happen and giving myself grace if they don’t. One area where I won’t be compromising in 2019 is with my Word of the Year. I’m eager to tell you all about it. . . but first, a little background.
In January of 2015, eight months pregnant and on the precipice of a new life stage, I decided to try something new with my goal-setting. The concept of choosing One Word for the year was gaining traction, and I planned to give it a whirl. Inspired by Claire Díaz Ortiz, who encouraged readers to choose “One word that means everything you hope to achieve and catalyze and crystalize and create and live and breathe,” I claimed Open as my word for 2015. It seemed fitting for a year that would require an open mind and great flexibility as I transitioned into motherhood.
Having one word for that first year of motherhood proved incredibly beneficial for me. As 2015 unfolded, the concept of being Open framed my experiences and my attitude, and served as a useful mantra as I dove headfirst into one new situation after another. After that year, there was no question that I would choose another word for 2016, and I’ve chosen a new word every year since.
Last fall, as I began thinking about what my word should be in 2019, Abide was the one word that came up for me again and again. But it didn’t feel quite right. It seemed too abstract, too difficult to define, let alone practice; perhaps a tad too one-dimensional. Surely this wasn’t the word God was putting on my heart for this year. I set Abide aside, and for a month or so, I thought I had settled on Presence as my word. Then, in two totally independent conversations, both Luke AND my therapist suggested Joy for my word, and it seemed as though my decision had been made for me. Still, I couldn’t quite shake the feeling that God had given me Abide for 2019.
In November, our family attended a camp where the theme for the weekend was “Dwell.” Our speaker, Jason, defined Dwell this way: “to remain or reside. To live or stay as a resident. To exist and lie where the heart of the matter dwells. To abide.” There was that word again! Later in the weekend Jason said, “when you dwell [abide] in God’s presence there is fullness of JOY; and the joy of the Lord is our strength. Strength brings honor. Honor brings PRESENCE. Presence brings glory.” In other words, both joy and presence—two words I’d considered for this year—are byproducts of abiding in Christ. I finally had my word!
Over the past month, since claiming Abide as my Word for 2019, I’ve spent a lot of time pondering what it means to abide in Christ, and how that will play out for me in the coming year. First and foremost, I believe that abiding in Christ is rooted in God’s grace and the reconciliation that took place when His blood was shed on the cross. Because the price for my sin has been paid, I have been grafted into the Vine of Christ. I have been given the opportunity to live with Him as a full-time resident, an incorporated part of His Vine, existing in the very presence of our Lord. His sacrifice paved the way for my own abiding.
As I adhere to Jesus, absorbing nourishment from His teaching and through His presence, I respond with obedience and whole-hearted worship, and a desire for more and more of Him. A not-so-fun part of the abiding process is that I subject myself to pruning as God cuts away the parts of me that are not reflective of Him; but as these unhealthy parts of me start to fall away, I begin to bear spiritual fruit—one of the blessings of being grafted into the Vine.
Taking my cue from Cara, who recently shared about Abiding in Christ, I’ve come up with an acrostic for how I plan to Abide this year. When I Abide in Christ, I:
Actively spend time memorizing and studying God’s word. (I’ll be following this plan to read through the whole Bible in 2019.)
Believe God is who He says He is, and live a life that models my trust in Him.
Invest in Kingdom work, loving and serving others as I live out the Great Commission.
Delight in Christ, talking to Him throughout the day and simply resting in His presence.
Expect to see the Fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control) showing up in my life.
As I list out these steps, it becomes clear that there is no other way I would rather spend 2019 than Abiding in Christ. When I make God my focus, and hold my relationship with Him as my highest priority, everything else will fall into place. Whatever else 2019 may hold, I anticipate that God will be active in my life this year and I couldn’t be more excited about it!
Have you chosen a word for your year in 2019? I’d love to hear it! If you haven’t selected a word yet, but would like to, it’s definitely not too late, and there are a number of resources to help you. This article offers 5 tips for choosing your word in 2019, this site has a quiz you can take to help you with your selection, and this site includes several examples of words others have chosen. You can also check out my past Word of the Year posts for the scoop on how I’ve selected my words in the past: 2015—Open // 2016—Integrity // 2017—Love // 2018—Grace.
A quick note of business: I am inaugurating the New Year with a brief blogging hiatus. This is probably an unconventional time for a break, but I need a few weeks to recover from 2018’s end-of-year festivities, spend some time actively abiding in Christ, and regroup before fully diving into 2019. I’ll be back before you know it with plenty of great new content for you. Until then, happy January!