**Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.**
There’s nothing particularly magical about January, but for many of us, the new year marks a new beginning. We get to say goodbye to one year, and hello to something new. The calendar gives us the opportunity to start over.
One way I’ve learned to mark a new season is by prayerfully choosing a word for the year.
Last year, my word of REVIVE.
Stepping into 2017, my heart felt a little battered, bruised, and broken; I needed a breath of fresh air and healing.
When I sat down to choose a word this time last year, I felt God breathe a word over my heart. Revival. And then I heard a question: “Jazmin, what do you want me to REVIVE this year?”
I gave Him a list of everything that felt broken and dead, and at the top of that list was the request that He REVIVE my heart.
This year my word is BRAVE.
Why I have a word for the year
I started this practice of choosing a word for the year a few years ago after reading Robin Jones Gunn’s book Victim of Grace.* At the beginning of each new year, Robin would sit down with her journal and ask God for a word to define the new year.
I’d heard about people claiming a word for the year, but this sounded different. Robin wasn’t just picking a word she wanted, but she asking for God’s word for the year.
Every December I’ve made time to do the same. And the practice has totally changed how I enter each new year and new season.
By asking God to give me a word, I’m handing my year over to Him even before it begins. I’m giving Him the reigns, asking Him to do what He wants. And it’s given me the chance to partner with Him in that work.
This year, finding my word was a little more difficult. I tested two other words that had been coming up a lot over the last few months, but neither seemed to fit. Then BRAVE breathed over my soul, and I knew.
When you hear your word your heart responds.
I got a little teary and physically nodded.
Yes, 2018 is the year I need to be brave.
Asking God for a word for the year invites Him in to bring about His will in our lives and gives us a way to mark the seasons.
I can easily look back and remember that the year I graduated college and started my first big-girl job was a year of NEW THINGS. I can smile at the year of HARVEST and remember the many people I got to share so many new experiences and blessings with. I can celebrate the year the Lord did a work of REVIVAL in my heart and brought me to a new place of freedom.
All throughout the Old Testament, God’s people built memorials and altars in places where He showed up and showed off. When God appeared to Abraham and promised him a far away land and descendants, Abraham built an alter. When God appeared to Jacob in a dream, Jacob set up the stone he had used a pillow and named the place Bethel. When Israel finally crossed over to the Promised Land, they piled up twelve stones to serve as a reminder for generations of how God brought them out of slavery.
Our words become our memorial stones. They serve as a reminder of where we’ve and what God’s done.
How to choose your word for the year
Whether you’ve been developing this practice of choosing a word for the year for years or if this is your first time, here are some tips to help you name this season (and a free workbook too!):
1. Set aside time. Naming a season takes time. It requires looking at where you’ve come and where you want to go. It means quieting you heart long enough to hear how God and what He has to say about this new year. I recommend setting a date, finding a quiet place and just taking your time. Give your heart and soul space to breathe, reflect, dream, and listen. Bring along your Bible, journal, and favorite pen so you can record your thoughts.
2. Invite the Lord into this space. While you can very easily choose a word you want to live out this year, there’s something very intimate and special about asking God for a word. Take time to ask Him to define this season and write down whatever word lands on your heart. It might not make sense now, but enter into conversation about it with the Lord. Ask Him what it means. Tell Him what you hope it means in the coming year. Ask Him to open your eyes to see how He brings that word to life in and around you.
3. Take time to reflect and dream. Often my word for the year flows out of an area where I want to experience growth or change. BRAVE comes from the desire to continue to chase this dream of writing and ministry. Over the last few months this dream has started taking me in a direction I didn’t expect, which both excites and frightens me. I want to be brave enough to try new things, take risks, and follow God down this path. How’s your heart? Where do you want to be a year from now? What happened last year that you’d like to see changed and transformed? The answers to these questions might point you to your word.
4. Make it visible. Once you have a word, find some way to display it. I like getting my word engraved on a Giving Key or displaying it in a piece of art. Putting your word in a place you can see it helps you remember and, at least for me, prompts me cling to that word. Already I’ve had moments of fear and doubt and anxiety about the months ahead and the places I see God leading me. BRAVE has been a comfort, a reminder that I don’t walk alone, and that God’s plans are good. Let your word serve as a reminder of God’s plans for your life. Let your word be something that draws you closer to Him.
So what do you think? Are you ready to choose a word?
To help you out, I’ve created a free workbook that will walk you through the entire process of reflecting on the previous year or season, dreaming about the year ahead, and finding your word. Click here to get started!
Taking the time to invite God into this season and name it will only bring you closer to Him. It will open your eyes to see Him at work in new and specific ways. And in those moments when you see your word coming to life in and around you, it will become one more reminder that God is real, He is present, and He cares so deeply for you.
So, what’s your word?
Live in His love!
*Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Related: Faith Brings Healing