Are people making New Year’s resolutions anymore? It seems the practice has largely fallen out of favor—especially after 2020, that precarious year that made us all aware of how unpredictable life can be. (It’s tough to resolve when you’re uncertain of each day’s expectations.) Personally, I let go of rigid annual goals and sweeping resolutions several years ago, opting instead to choose One Word that would hopefully shape me and my experiences in the coming year. (Past words have included Open, Integrity, Love, Grace, Abide, Joy, and Wonder.)
I get a sense that even the One Word trend is dying out, but it is a tradition I have continued to enthusiastically embrace. Each year I’ve invited the Lord into my Word selection and subsequent adoption, and I have been in awe of the ways He has used each specific Word to teach me, mold me, or open my soul to new practices, ideas, or ways of thinking. Each year’s Word has been a simple prayer that the Lord has answered with the profundity of a master teacher and the attentive tenderness of a doting Father.
There is nothing magic about choosing One Word, but in my experience the practice has been one of soul nourishment, expansion, clarity, and renewal. The open-ended nature of One Word provides flexibility, extending beyond the limitations of resolutions or the predisposition to failure that accompanies lofty goals. And the specificity of JUST one word provides a helpful anchor point for decision-making, mindset shaping, and beyond.
I began pondering my upcoming Word last fall, and for almost a month I was sure Trust was going to be my Word for 2022. Honor was another word that was under consideration for a few weeks. But as I prayerfully considered my various options, there was another word I couldn’t quite shake, and by mid-December it became clear that my Word for 2022 would be Wholehearted.
Wholehearted: it was a word that I had begun seeing regularly in my reading, and that repeatedly showed up in my prayer life. I was unclear at first what this Word might signify for me this year, but it seemed a natural extension of the healing and rebirth I experienced in 2021: God began a methodical work of mending my heart last year, and my prayer is that He may continue this process of making my heart whole in the months ahead.
My reliable friend Mr. Webster defines wholehearted as “completely and sincerely devoted, determined, or enthusiastic; marked by complete earnest commitment; free from all reserve or hesitation.” To be wholehearted is to be a person of integrity, someone whose life is dedicated to pursuing clearly defined values. A wholehearted woman is honest, genuine, and sincere, fully aligned in thought, belief, word, and deed. Wholehearted is a deceptively simple term that manages to capture the wholeness, goodness, purity, and presence what I want to embody in 2022.
The core of the word wholehearted is, of course, the heart. In his book Gentle and Lowly, Dane Ortlund has the following to say about this subject:
“When the Bible speaks of the heart, whether Old Testament or New, it is not speaking of our emotional life only but of the central animating center of all we do. . . . The heart, in biblical terms, is not part of who we are but the center of who we are. Our heart is what defines and directs us. . . . The heart is a matter of life. It is what makes us the human being each of us is. The heart drives all we do. It is who we are.”
If Ortlund is right—if my heart is driving all that I do, is the core of who I am—I want my heart to be healthy and whole. And there is no one I would rather look to for healing and wholeness than Jesus Himself. In this year of pursuing an understanding and manifestation of wholeheartedness, I will be seeking to understand the heart of Christ and asking Him to shape my own heart like His.
In naming Wholehearted as my Word in 2022, I am committing to a year of discipleship and spiritual formation, actively inviting the Holy Spirit to guide me in the journey towards union with God, and submitting to God’s formation of my thinking, beliefs, behaviors, and feelings. These are lofty ambitions and clearly not ones that will be fully realized in a single calendar year; rather, this is my stated dedication to God’s work in me and with me in the weeks, months, and years to come.
I have witnessed and personally experienced the Holy Spirit’s transformative power over a heart that has been surrendered to His capable hands. The Lord heals the wounds of our shattered hearts, breathing life and love and passion into them and making them whole. I love this commentary from Knowing-Jesus.com about the heart-healing work of God:
“The cold, hard, impenetrable heart of the unregenerate man, with its self-centred passion and unyielding opinions, was to be renewed and replaced with a clean heart of flesh, in which the Holy Spirit of God Himself was to dwell. The eternal God of the universe was to dwell in the heart of the man who lives by faith and to reign there as King, in sovereign power. The human heart, which had become so infected with sin, was to be changed and cleansed, so that it could become a holy habitation for the Holy Spirit of God.”
My prayer in 2022 is that my heart may be a whole and holy habitation for the Holy Spirit of God as I seek after Him and invite Him in. He has already begun a good work in my heart; I am asking Him to see that work through to completion.
Have you chosen a word for 2022? If so I would love to hear about it! Let’s encourage one another in everything that this year (and these words) have in store for us.