I've been doing this since the late 1990s. Choosing a word, a phrase, a motto, for the year. In place of New Year's resolutions. To guide. To make me think. To set the tone. For the year. For me. For my life.
Sometimes, the word just comes to me. Like last year's word. Coping.
Sometimes the word(s) need a lot of thought and prayer. Like the year I had People First....I can be task oriented, you know! Or ~ Like A Sunflower.
Explain that one!
Sometimes, too, the word has a special meaning for me at that time, reflecting a current interest or current reading or current experience. Like the year I took one of Billy Blank's ( Taebo workout guy) maxims and made it my own - Every Day Above Ground Is A Blessed Day. And ~Never Give Up. Or a verse from Scripture - "I will walk within my house with a perfect heart."
Before New Years, I went out for coffee with three other homeschool mums. One mum has known me a long time, over the years, through newsletter exchanges and then the internet. We finally met in real life when I moved to Sydney in 2005.
And she asked - "What is your word for the coming year? Do you still do those words?"
The others looked at me quizzically and thus I explained these words. The importance of words in our lives, especially for a booky, writing sort of person like me. The power of words. The influence of words.
And how words can shape our thoughts and thus our lives.
So, yes, I still do those words.
Do they make my life better? Do they make me better? Do they make me a better Christian, wife, mother, worker, homeschooler, friend, person?
I don't know. And, no, not on their own. I can, however, only think of how, perhaps, who I am may be worse, may be the real, yucky inside me, if I didn't have these words to guide me...in prayer...in my life.
I am reminded of C.S. Lewis, in Mere Christianity, where he writes of "Nice People or New Man." We do not know the state of others' souls; we do not know what we are without God so, even if we are not-always-so-nice when we know God, it does not mean that we should give up. That Christianity fails. That we shouldn't strive to be nice. We should. With His Grace. Using tools like my Words. And offering it all in prayer.
"But we must not suppose that even if we succeeded in making everyone nice we should have saved their souls. A world of nice people, content in their own niceness, looking no further, turned away from God, would be just as desperately in need of salvation as a miserable world - and might even be more difficult to save. For mere improvement is not redemption, though redemption always improves people even here and now and will, in the end, improve them to a degree we cannot yet imagine. God became man to turn creatures into sons: not simply to produce better men of the old kind but to produce a new kind of a man. "
So, those words, chosen in prayer each year, written into my diary each year, offered in prayer each year, help make me nicer. Heaven as a goal, not niceness. But a little bit of niceness goes a long way! That new kind of man, with the grace of God and the help of the sacraments and that word.
That word, the one I see when I open my diary each day and each week and check what-I-have-to-do. What things the family has to do. All under the banner of the word(s) for the year.
So, you ask, what is the word for this year.
I mentioned it in another post.
A name. A phrase. Influenced by my pre-Christmas reading.
Mother Teresa. In other words, dying to self. And serving with a smile. Regardless.
From Mere Christianity again..." But there must be a real giving up of the self. You must throw it away blindly so to speak. Christ will indeed give you a real personality: but you must not go to Him for the sake of that. As long as your own personality is what you are bothering about you are not going to Him at all. The very first step is to try to forget about the self altogether. Your real, new self...will not come as long as you are looking for it. It will come when you are looking for Him."
This thought tempers our words, our resolutions, doesn't it? And thus my word for this year is a reminder that it is not really about the words or about me. It is about Him.
And the inspiring words for the year that my homeschooling friends have chosen and shared, over that coffee, also remind me that it is not about us.