So, last year I bought into this idea of choosing one word to focus on for the year. It is kind of in the place of making resolutions (which I never did anyway). For 2016 I chose joy. I can’t say that I was completely successful in being joyful. I mean, I don’t know that I will ever be that bubbly picture of joy that comes to mind. However, I think choosing joy as my year-long theme helped me to keep my pessimism in check a bit. (And I’m hoping for continued growth in this, even though the year has ended.)
It’s a new year already. 2017 is upon us. The theme of social media seems to be good riddance 2016, bring on some relief and hope in 2017. I have to admit, this resonates with me as well, since last year was full of challenges, and this year already has many new beginnings.
For several days I’ve been trying to decide on my One Word for 2017. So this morning I decided to ignore the millions of things that need my attention, and to take some time to pray about it. As I should have suspected, with tears running down my face, God met me on my couch while I put my pen to paper in my new prayer journal.
I was discussing with my Heavenly Father the different options that had been swimming in my mind. One idea I had was prayer. I want to be altogether more prayerful this year. I tend to go through stretches when I am really prayerful, followed by others where I find I am rarely praying at all. So, it seemed like a good option.
Another possibility was peace. I want this to be a year of peace. I want to be at peace with God’s plan and direction for my life. I want to be at peace with others. Plus, I just like that it is a fruit of the Spirit, so it is something I should actively pursue. I can say that last year did not feel very peaceful. But in the last couple of weeks I have already had multiple people comment that they have observed a new peace in me. I know that God has already brought a fresh peace to me, and I’m confident it will continue growing in 2017.
But the word that keeps coming back to mind is communicate. At first glance, it might not seem as spiritual as the other options…but for me it is deeply rooted. Recently I was driving with a good friend and we were chatting about various things. He asked me about someone who I had been close to earlier in the year, and who he had met once. I told him that I wasn’t sure exactly what she was up to right now. Eventually this led to a piercing statement from his lips. He told me that I’m not good at friendships. I tried to couch it and rephrase it so that it wasn’t so harsh. But he insisted on his wording. It hit me like a punch to the gut, and caused me to be quiet for most of the remainder of the journey. I’m sure he never realized the impact of his words. After all, his tribe is stereotypically known for their blunt honesty. (By the way, I have to believe that he doesn’t think I am a total friendship failure…I mean, because we are friends…)
I’m not good at friendships. I tried to excuse it away. But the more I thought about it, the more convicted I felt. The truth is, I have neglected many friendships–this past year more than ever. And the main way I have neglected them is through a lack of communication.
Now, the truth is I am introvert, contrary to popular belief. I can easily blame my lack of communication on my introverted personality. For example, I have a phobia with phones…I don’t like to answer my phone. If I don’t know the number, there is a 99% chance that I am not answering. And if I do know the number…I also may not answer. It isn’t because I don’t like the person or anything. I don’t know if I can fully explain it. But I just get panicky inside. Oh how I wish that voicemail was a think here in Uganda. And making phone calls? I feel like I have to give myself a pep talk to make it happen most of the time. It’s crazy, I know.
As I was praying over which word to choose, I was really feeling convicted about my steady decline in communication throughout 2016. Several examples were flashing in my mind of how I have really failed. Many names came to me who I have sincerely neglected and not been a good friend to.
Additionally, I realized that prayer, one of my other One Word options, really is a form of communication. That got me to thinking about how sometimes I am not good at my friendship with God either, just like with the people in my life.
As I considered finalizing my decision, I wanted to have a Scripture as a foundation for my One Word. So I went to my go-to website: biblegateway.com. I typed in communicate. It didn’t have anything (I knew it was a long shot), but suggested Hebrews 13:16, And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.
With a little more digging, I realized this verse was suggested because in the King James Version, the word share is replaced with communicate. Now…my brief study didn’t leave me with any solid conclusion as to whether or not the most accurate understanding of the original intent is share in the way of communicating, or share in the way of giving tangible things. Regardless, I’m claiming it as appropriate for me. The truth is, sometimes good communication feels like a sacrifice for me. But I know that when I do communicate well, it pleases God.
So there it is…communication.
I am sorry for all of you who I have been failing to communicate with effectively. Here’s to a new year. A new beginning. A new attempt at being a better communicator–with God, my supporters, my friends and family, etc.
One Word for 2017: Communicate.