If You Could Choose One Word – Present

By January 22, 2015My Thoughts

Confession: I’m a type-A person who loves structure, clear guidelines, and as little uncertainty as possible.

And because of that, I loved being in school. I loved syllabi (once I got over the shock of seeing a whole semester’s worth at once), the dependable calendar, and the predictability of knowing where I needed to be every Monday morning at 8 AM.

And so when New Year’s Eve rolled around each year, I would look back at my resolutions and goals, and grade myself. The resolution was like my syllabus, and my year would be graded according to how many of the requirements I completed.

The only problem is that life isn’t that predictable. Things happen. Distractions come up. Unavoidable things arise and have to be dealt with. Often.

What do you do when you set a goal for yourself, and then it becomes completely clear that your goal has to change? For example, for my third year of running, I wanted to run a 10K. I worked up to a 5 mile trail run, and then injured myself. The 10K wasn’t going to happen. Not because I was a failure, or hadn’t worked toward my goal, but because something happened that necessitated a change.

Goal-making can be healthy, or it can become an obsession. And so last year, in an attempt at healthy goal-making, I started the practice of selecting one word for the year. Last year’s word was love, and within that one word, I had the flexibility to face life’s challenges however they needed to be faced – all with one word in mind: love.

A few weeks before this past Christmas, I sat looking over my Christmas list of who I hoped to give presents to. And for some reason, in the midst of that moment when I was more consumed with crossing items off my to-do list than I was with experiencing the anticipation of Advent, I wondered how present I was even being in my own life. Life can become so fragmented, chaotic, and stressful if I let it, and rather than merely giving presents, I wanted to learn how to be present more of the time.

For this year, I want to spend less time behind a computer screen, and more time away from it. I want to experience life’s moments as they happen, rather than experiencing them through the screen on the back of my camera. In the moments that arise, I want to be present, whatever that may look like.

Present to God, listening with ears open, and watching with eyes ready.

Present to myself, giving myself respect and love, rather than judgment and unfair criticism.

Present to my family, my husband and kids, as they navigate the journeys in their lives – both as part of our family, and as individuals.

Present to my church and my community, attentive to the places of deep need where my calling intersects the groanings of the world.

As part of my journey towards being present in my life, I decided to create a hashtag to keep myself accountable. From time to time, I will use #BePresent2015, and you are welcome to use it, too.

Do you do the “one word” challenge? If you do, what word are you living with this year? 

About April Fiet

April is a pastor, wife, mom, and lover of words. She finds inspiration under the big Nebraska skies, in the garden, in the yarn aisle, and in the kitchen. Learn more about April here, and join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

  • I love this idea. I’m a goal setter as well and I get agitated if I set a goal and can’t accomplish it. I’ve avoided resolutions for that reason. I think choosing one word for the year is a much better alternative for me. (Now I just have to think of a word…)

    • If you do pick a word, I’d love to hear what you choose!

  • westcoast23

    My whole church does this every year. We start the year with a three part series about the concept and why the church picked that particular word for that year and then on the last week of the series, everyone “picks” (I say “picks” because we do a three day fast and sometimes it’s not so much that you picked it as you were assigned it) their word and we do something with them. Last year we wrote them on leaves and one of our members painted this awesome tree and then they somehow adhered the leaves to it. Two years ago, we wrote them on little slips of paper about 2×4 inches and they were glued to a canvas-and-wood cross. This year they go on postcards and you write your address and you’ll get it in the mail at some point. Last year our church’s word was expansion and this year it’s faithful, both accompanied by relevant verses. I’ve only been going to this church for a little over two years, so my first word was undaunted, last year’s was teach, and this year’s is forge. Somehow I’m not good at picking normal ones, like hope, faith, love, forgiveness, joy, etc. Those ones come up a lot.
    It’s really interesting to get to the end of the year (November or December) and then ask people that you know well what their word was if you don’t already know because sometimes the word really connects to the ways that you’ve been able to see them grow.

    • Wow! I really love the idea of doing this as a church! I think it’s fantastic!

  • L.W. Dicker

    And then Jesus came upon his disciples and said, “Brethren, I’ve heard it said among you that I am the Son of God and was sent to die for your sins. Allow me to asketh, who among you is the deranged lunatic that came up with that Neanderthal bullshit!!??

    Blood sacrifice!!!?? Are you out of your goddamned minds with that Stone Age fuckery!!!???

    Brethren, listen closely as I tell you something of great importance. I would sooner lick the dingleberries off of Judas’ ass crack than be a part of your dying for sins horse shit!!!!!!!!!

    Seriously Brethren!! Please, for the love of Baal, stop denigrating and insulting the very idea of love and mercy with the sickening and evil lunacy of forgiveness through blood atonement!!!!!!!!!!!”

    —Jesus Christ, A Memoir

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