As I pondered over what my word for 2019 would be, I started thinking back to when I first started making “New Year’s Resolutions.” I dug through a box of old journals and found the first journal I ever started from when I was 9 years old.
I was surprised to discover that although I carefully documented each new year (along with the ages of each family member!), I didn’t start making any resolutions for years to come. Along with the rest of the world, I quickly became disillusioned with “New Year’s Resolutions” and my own failure to live up to them.
Enter: Word of the Year. This too has become discouraging in recent years. I think I’ve taken a faulty approach to it—picking a word that I think will reflect the events of the year and then feeling let down when things turn out differently.
This year I’m approaching my “Word of the Year” with the idea that my word is a concept I’d like to prioritize and emphasize in 2019.
My word is present, and I have attached a double meaning to it.
Firstly, I want to prioritize being present in whatever situation I’m in. I’m a planner from my head to my toes, but unfortunately, that can make it hard to fully enter into what’s right in front of me.
In her book Present Over Perfect, Shauna Niequist writes,
“Present is living with your feet firmly grounded in reality, pale and uncertain as it may seem. Present is choosing to believe that your own life is worth investing deeply in, instead of waiting for some rare miracle or fairytale. Present means we understand that the here and now is sacred, sacramental, threaded through with divinity even in its plainness. Especially in its plainness.”
I’d like to be more present in 2019. For me, the practical application of this could look like: keeping my phone off and away when I’m engaging with others, saving that online shopping for the evening when everyone is in bed, resisting the urge to scroll through social media when there’s a lull in activities. I want whoever is in front of me to have my full attention.
I also think a healthy byproduct of these choices could be less anxiety. By constantly looking into the future, running calculations, and planning, I can pull myself from present to panic swiftly and painfully.
“Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Matthew 6:27 (NIV)
The second meaning of my 2019 word, Present, is a bit of a tangent but I still wanted to tie it in. I’d like to be looking at others through the lens of the present. I reluctantly admit I’m a bit of a grudge holder. My default mode is to consider a person in light of my entire history of them.
But I believe in redemption! I believe in transformation. I believe people can change. And yes, sometimes they do change for the worse. But my purpose here is to stop looking back and to consider the person in light of who they are right now. To focus on this moment and what my current role and relationship is with that person right now. In the present.
As I mentally ruminated on this, I distilled down what being present is and isn’t for me.
The present isn’t:
Weighed down by baggage.
Weighed down by the past.
Weighed down by the future.
The verse that comes to mind here is
“So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”-Matthew 6:31-34 (NIV)
The present is:
And Here I feel the reality of Psalm 46:10 (NIV), “He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God;”
This 2019 word, present, definitely makes me uncomfortable. Choosing to focus on what is happening here and now this year will be stretching for sure, but I know that it’s just another step toward God’s work in my own soul, and I want to be ready for whatever that might mean.
Sarah Clews loves being the wife of Carson and mother to three little girls. She received her degree in English from Corban University and still loves the craft of writing. She also helps her husband run a martial arts school. In her free time, Sarah enjoys talking with grown-ups (!), finding new authors, doing online research, and reading her favorite childhood stories to her girls.