Last year was the first year I jumped on the band-wagon of picking one word to focus on for an entire year. For several years I had been coming up with a few goals (not resolutions – big difference in my book) that were measurable and attainable to bring some clarity and vision into a fragmented and slightly crazed life. There was nothing wrong with that, but last year I just felt like maybe focusing in on one word would help me hone in on one thing I wanted to work on throughout the year. It wasn’t something that I could just do once or twice and then consider it done and not think about the rest of the year. With one word to attune to, it was constantly in the back of my mind (and sometimes in the forefront!) and it became more of an act of discipline than something I wanted to accomplish and call done.
The word that kept coming back to me as I thought about choosing just one was “Courage”. Some of my path over the last few years has taken me over some uncharted territory and it has been scary. And I knew that what I felt God nudging me to do in 2013 would take a ton of courage. So that’s how I chose my word. Nothing earth-shattering, just this “feeling” deep inside me, and it turns out it was a good word to steep in.
You see, I had been living my life following the path of least resistance for as far back as I can remember. Now don’t me wrong, I was getting some resistance for the path I was on, but it wasn’t as much as if I changed it, so it was easier to stay. When I got to the place where I knew something had to give, I started down a different path. Now what I did there was still lacking any hint of courage, because I allowed circumstances to make choices for me, rather than being courageous and making those hard choices myself. I have had some really good help since then, both from people and from God, in being intentional about making courageous and daring choices. Throughout the year, I would periodically find myself in a place of paralyzing fear or inertia and then I would remember – Courage! It will take courage to do this. Often it was just the push I needed to move forward.
What does it mean to be courageous – to do things, to live life with courage? Does it mean the absence of fear? Does it mean that fear will dissipate like so much dew on a warm summer morning? Does it mean we will get it right every time and everything will end up with a big red bow on top? Not so much.
It looks more like embracing the things we’re most afraid of and pushing through the fear and anxiety. It is being okay with trying and failing, while being grateful for the opportunity to have been in the arena. It is doing things in spite of the fear, maybe even because of the fear. Courage is never about eliminating fear – courage is about facing the fear head-on. Courage is about believing the truth. Courage is about looking beyond the impossibilities and seeing the possibilities. It is about saying “Yes!” when every fiber of your being wants to say “No.” It’s about making a choice against all odds. Courage is making hard choices and doing hard things.
Courage helped me to believe in myself and gave me confidence. It helped me stand up for myself and believe it was okay to do it. Courage helped me address something with the person it involved rather than spout off about it to others. Courage helped me take the steps to go back to school. Courage helped me say things that needed to be said and to not say things that I wanted to say that were not helpful. Courage helped me make things right when I did say and do things that hurt others. None of this is earth-shattering, but some of it rocked me deeper than I thought possible.
If you’ve been contemplating choosing one word to bring focus and vision to a particular area in your life, do it! It’s been such a good experience for me. So good, in fact, that I have a new word for this year and it’s already helping me change and grow. My word for this year is one that will build on the courage I have been practicing. My new word is “strength”. My vision is to grow in strength spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically. It looks big, but I’m excited about it.