Choose a Theme Word to Set the Tone for Your Year

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At the end of every December, I spend time in my journal reflecting about the year that just passed and anticipating the one that is to come. 

For years now, I’ve done this by choosing a word, or two, that I feel is consistently put on my heart, and I pray over that word(s) to be something that I’m focused on in the upcoming year. 

It’s important to set the tone for how you want your year to go. I believe it’s equally important to write it down in a prominent location you can frequently refer to, to see what kind of progress you are making. 

In the past years, these were my words:
2015: Renewal & Awakening
2016: Refinement
2017: Clarity

In January 2015, I was coming out of a bad relationship that had put a glaze over my eyes, and I lost sight of who I was in that partnership. On top of that, I was working a job that I truly hated going to. I felt like I was walking through life asleep, just going through the motions. I needed God to wake me up and renew my spirit, and he did because God is faithful. I reconnected with my soulmate, whom I now gratefully call “husband,” and I started a job teaching high school students, which gave me a sense of purpose. 

In 2016, my word was Refinement. Regretfully, I didn’t journal much about this, so I’m not really sure why this was my word, but I know I wanted to focus on being a better teacher. This is also why I think it’s important to write your words down and give detailed reasons behind “the why” and your goals for the words, so you can look back on them and reflect.

In 2017, my word was Clarity. I started to really feel the emotional drainage that can come from teaching high school students, who take more than they give on a normal day, which is totally understandable — you are there for them, not the other way around. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my students with my whole heart. Getting to be their mentor was a privilege I will cherish forever, and I am still in contact with a lot of them today (in fact, I’m having coffee with one today before she goes back to the University of Houston this weekend). But regardless of my love for them, my cup was empty, and I was at a place where I had sadly nothing left to give. I needed God to give me clarity on whether to continue teaching or to start my own business. I struggled with the guilt of “leaving my students behind.” But He worked me through the guilt I felt and reassured me that He has control over everything, and I needed to be there while I was, but I was being called to something new. Hence, The Pax Collective, this blog post, and the many more things to come. 

In the past, my words were heavily focused on things I wanted to see God do for me, which is absolutely not a bad thing — it’s what I needed in those times. For 2018, I see a shift. Instead of what he can do for me, I know it’s about what he wants to do in me.

This year, my words are Commitment and Selflessness. 

At the end of 2017, I married my best friend and I started this business. These two things are huge milestones that made me realize that I need to work on having unshakeable commitment and godly selflessness if I want them, or anything else I’m a part of, to be successful. I don’t know about you, but I struggle with both. And God knows that about me better than anyone.

With commitment, there are more days than I care to admit where I’d rather watch reruns of Criminal Minds than sit down and work my way through a blog post or fine-tune my website. Honestly, I should have had this business up and running by July of last year, but my lack of commitment kept me from doing so.

God wants to do so much in your life, and he can send all the rain in the world, but until you get out there and do the work and lay your crops, you’ll never reap the harvest he promised you. 

In general, it's far too easy for me to say I'll do something then find an excuse not to do that thing. I want to change that in 2018.

With selflessness, I struggle with the natural human, fleshly instinct to think, “Me first.” Maybe it’s paying my rent before I tithe, or eating the last cookie before I offer it to my insanely selfless husband whose very first thought would be, There’s only one left, then offer it to me. Silly example, but truth. His first instinct is to give to others before he does something for himself. (Now if we’re talking about Twizzlers, that’s a whole other story.)

In 2018, I want to commit to doing the job God has set before me. 

In 2018, I want God to do a work in me where I’m more concerned with blessing others than receiving blessings myself. 

What word(s) will you chose to set the tone for your year in 2018?