I decided a long time ago to forego making New Year’s Resolutions. I was never any good at keeping them, and the harder I tried, the worse it got. I finally made one resolution that I have managed to not break: to not make any more resolutions!
What I have done instead is select a word that I intend to focus my life around for the next twelve months, one word to live by for the year. This practice has had the effect of helping me to keep my focus on a specific area I need to grow in, and it helps me become more who I believe that God wants me to be.
Over the years, I have selected several different words, such as the word “passion” in 2011. As I look back over the years, it seems as if many of them have a common underlying theme, such as my choice of “commit” in 2012, or “intentional” in 2013, or even the words “wait” and “prudence” in 2015 and 2016. And last year, my word to live by was “present.” It seems as if God is teaching me through these years to slow down and allow myself to be led by him, to be intentional, to wait on his leading, and not be so eager to do things my own way.
It seems that my learning in this area is not yet complete.
For the past couple of months, as I have reviewed my Life Plan, striving to be a complete man in every area of my life, I felt like God was leading me to choose another similar word to live by in 2018. As I reviewed every area of my life, one word seemed to crop up over and over.
Last October, while at a minister’s retreat in Colorado, I was challenged by the concept of living an unhurried life. As I began to reflect on what this might mean, I realized that I have a very skewed perspective of rest and Sabbath in my life. I have tended to operate on my own agenda and timing more often than I have waited on God’s. I have been too hurried.
In no way would I really ever want to admit this, but it’s true. I depend on my own timing more than I should, and wait upon God’s timing less than I need to. And I can see the ripple effect it has on my family. My wife is too busy, my kids rush from one thing to the next, and we are always late to everything it seems. We are hurried.
I don’t know yet how to change this in my family. I barely know what I need to start doing in my own life, but there it is. I need to slow down.
And so, for 2018, my word is Unhurried.
As I seek to understand this concept more – and not just understand it, but apply it – I have a couple of strategies that I have begun to employ. First of all, I have written this in large letters across the top of every other page in my daily planner, a Hobonichi Techo that I carry everywhere with me. As I look to these pages, often multiple times a day, I will see this word in big red letters staring back at me, reminding me that my pace is too fast to hold on to, and that God calls me to an unhurried life.
My second strategy has been to collect a list, and a stack, of books to read on the topic of rest, of slowing, of Sabbath. Many of these have been recommended to me by friends or mentors, others I have found recently on my own, and a few are old friends from years past that I need to read again.
As the year progresses, I am certain that I will find some more action items that I can do to help me as I endeavor to slow myself and live life on God’s pace, and not my own.
In fact, I have already begun making some changes to implement this into my life. I have adjusted my blogging and writing schedules to free up space in my schedule, and I will be shutting down a couple of other blogs that I maintain over the course of the next months. I have set aside a couple of hobbies simply because they take up time. And I have scheduled days into my calendar to simply slow down and enjoy some extended personal communion with God, without anything else to distract me.
I want to live an unhurried life. Not a lazy life. Not an unproductive life. But a life that travels at a pace set by God, and not by me. I can already sense the sigh of relief that my soul is exhaling in anticipation.
Question: Have you selected One Word to live by this year? If so, what is it and why did you select it? If not, should you consider doing so? You can leave a comment by clicking here.