Back when I first started doing a Word of the Year, it was something I would first pray about and then just … wait for. I’d wait for something to jump out at me, either in my Bible reading, in church, in a song, in a conversation, or whatever. Some years, I’d pray but nothing would jump out. Some years, the word I received ended up being a little scarily prophetic, like when I was given “Overcome” and then a few months later my sister was diagnosed with cancer–which she totally beat.
In more recent years, I’ve been proactive, making lists and evaluating them and choosing my word through deliberation and prayer. That gave me “intentional” in 2021 (still one of my favorites!) and then “devotion” in 2022. As I began to ponder and pray about what I should choose for 2023, I expected to have to make a list, do that thinking and praying over it, see what stuck.
So I hopped in the shower one morning with that in mind, said a prayer that God would lead me to the right word, let my mind go over some of the themes in life and faith that had been popping up for me, and BAM! It hit me. My word. And not only did the word itself hit me, my mind was immediately flooded with what it meant, how it would and should play out, all that it held wrapped up in its six little letters.
That might sound like a strange word to choose, right? But hear me out, LOL.
I have never been the most patient person in the world. I’m goal-oriented. One of those people who like to over-achieve and get assignments done early. I always did the extra credit in school. I turned my first contracted manuscript a full month ahead of deadline. When someone says, “This takes an hour,” my first thought is always, “Bet I can streamline and get it down to 45 minutes.”
In some things in life, this is a very handy personality trait. I work well with and under deadlines, I’m self-motivated, and that means I can live the author life very well. But…
But. It isn’t exactly the best way to go about things like faith, relationships, and spiritual growth.
I remember when I was a kid, it drove me NUTS that my parents would say it was time to go–from a friend or family member’s house, after a church function, whatever–and then they’d stand there at the door chatting for another half hour. Impatient Me sometimes resented that they’d called me away from my friends just to linger with theirs…or I was tired and ready to go to bed…or I just didn’t care about what they were talking about. I am 100% guilty of being that kid who would tug on her parents’ hands, trying to physically pull them out the door.
My parents knew the value of lingering–of spending time with the people and things that matter. It’s a lesson I’ve been learning–to greater or lesser success–all my life.
As an adult, when it’s me having dinner with friends or family, certain situations will inspire me to linger. When it’s friends I haven’t seen enough of…when the rest of my schedule has been cleared…when I know that whatever waits at home is less important than this time invested. When that’s the case, I can and do linger. There are still many times, though, that there’s something pressing at home, tugging on me. Responsibilities grabbing hold of my hand and trying to pull me out the door. Sometimes they are totally legitimate.
But sometimes, I should ignore them.
This last year, I did the Bible in a Year, which I’m totally glad I did. It got me out of my too-short-reading rut and gave me assignments–I love assignments! I could feel like I accomplished something at the start of every day. But as I’ve drawn near to the end of the program, I realize that while it served its purpose, it also had a drawback–it didn’t leave me time to really dwell in a text. To contemplate. To dig deep. It didn’t give me time to linger over the Word, and while I certainly could have taken that time, I was always also eager to move on to my morning prayer too. I’ve been spending about an hour each morning with God in one form or another, and I love that…but this year, I want more of that time to be that lingering contemplation and less of it to be charging through the set number of verses.
In the year to come, I intend to practice the Lectio Divina method, where one reads the same passage several times, contemplating it and seeing what jumps out at you. You examine each word and phrase, ask questions about context and meaning, and really spend time with a short passage instead of charging ahead to get through it.
As a work-from-home mom who homeschools, our whole family occupies the same space 24/7. I’ve had to learn how to work with the kids around. But my daughter’s a senior this year. I’m so, so aware of how she won’t be here next year for many of our annual traditions, if she’s away at college. It makes me realize that though we each need to do our work, we also need to treasure that time together, all those moments.
I need to linger with the Lord and those I love. I need to linger in the things that matter. That’s what this year’s word comes down to for me. I’ve been intentional, I’ve examined my own devotion. Now it’s time to dive deep into what matters most and stay there for a while.
Have you chosen a Word of the Year for 2023? If you’re uncertain about why people even do this or need some idea, read my article on “How to Choose an Intentional Word of the Year” for explanations and ideas.