The missing key to joy {a OneWord365 reflection plus a 2015 revelation}

If you’ve been following along here for the past couple of years, you might know a little something about my OneWord365 participation. If not, you can read about the start of it here, or select the OneWord365 category in the righthand sidebar under the “what I write about” menu to see all the posts I’ve written about my words of the past two years.


In short, it’s a revolution rather than a resolution for the New Year. It’s a choice to focus on a word that leads to change or transformation. My first year, it was “release,” as I discovered the need to let go of some things I’d been holding too tightly.

This year, it was “enjoy,” as I realized my need to not be so serious or fearful about life all the time.

In a way, this year was a OneWord365 letdown compared to 2013 when I literally felt freer at the end of the year as a result of letting go. As this year comes to a close, I’m not sure I’ve enjoyed life as much as I could. Sure, there were highlights, and it’s not like we’ve had a miserable year. But I don’t feel like a major attitude shift has happened as a result of my One Word this year.

I take complete responsibility for that. And I think maybe I got ahead of myself. After my year of release, I reasoned that it would be easier to enjoy. And in some ways it was.

But I think for true transformation to happen, my 2014 One Word is going to have to work together with my 2015 One Word. (It’s coming, don’t worry.)

I start thinking about these things ridiculously early. Or maybe not, but even before this year was close to its end, I was contemplating my next year’s word. It’s not magic or a guarantee but I find having a One Word does help me focus a bit. I look for the word and its application, like a yearlong treasure hunt. And in some ways, it’s like speaking a truth over your year. This word, I declare, is what I want for my life right now.

It’s not a science, for certain.

For a month or more, I thought my word for 2015 would be “strong.” I have plans to work on my health in 2015, and “strong” is something I’ve not felt in a long time. But it didn’t sit the way the other words have. It seemed like a good concept but not the exact right fit.

So I brainstormed some other words related to “strong” and what I hope 2015 will mean for me. I tossed around “healed” and “free” and “light” and “open,” words that are good, too, but still not quite there. They were part of the idea I was working toward but none of those words by themselves represented what I wanted.

Then one day as I was leaning over the dryer pulling clothes out, a word settled in my soul. (That sounds strange, right? But sometimes that’s how it happens. The word finds me when I’m no longer actively looking.)

It’s the right word because it encompasses “strong” and “healed” and “light” and “free.”

For 2015, my word is this:


In an effort to enjoy, I rediscovered how much of me is still broken. And it’s not that I think I’m useless or need to be cast aside, but I’m certainly not where I want to be mentally, physically or emotionally.

To be whole next year means that I’m going to do some things for me, things that have taken a backseat in past years. As a wife and a mom, I’ve let others’ needs come before mine, which sounds sacrificial and maybe even a little bit spiritual but in reality, it’s put me in a place that isn’t healthy.

I’m not exactly sure what “whole” will look like, nor do I expect that in one year all the broken parts of me will be miraculously fixed and healed. For me, it’s a start. It’s a line in the sand that says, now it’s time to focus on me, not so I can selfishly demand the world revolve around me and my needs, but so that I can be the best me. It’s a gift to my family for me to be whole. And it’s a gift to me, too.

I’ve already taken a few steps toward wholeness. I’m on medication for high blood pressure, which means I’m also looking at ways to eat healthier and exercise more. I’ve started seeing a therapist because my mental health is probably as bad (or worse) than my physical health. (And it’s not that I want you to feel sorry for me, and maybe you don’t think I should be talking about these things, but putting it in writing keeps me accountable and frees me from fear.) Taking care of my mental health may also involve medication, a decision I’m still considering.

What else will “whole” look like?

Defining, and following, my dreams (and God’s) for my life. I’m an incomplete person without my writing, so that will take on a greater role in my days. How, I’m not sure yet. But I have a second kid starting school next fall, which means I’ll have five whole days a week without children starting in August. A taste of that free time this year has me dreaming about pursuing more writing opportunities.

I will start another novel next year. Though I’m not yet finished editing and rewriting the one I finished a first draft of this year, I’m desperate to start planning and plotting a new story, one that has been on my mind for years and is a completely different genre than the first one I wrote. It’s a story that I think will bring personal healing as I write it. (Expect to hear more about this next year!)

Beyond that, I don’t want to set up too many expectations for my One Word because it will turn out different than I expect. It has so far. Though I’m not a fan of surprises, even good ones, I want to leave room for the Spirit’s work in my One Word. I cannot plan what God has in mind.

Before I end this post, I need you to know that this is the scariest One Word yet for me. I’ve been thinking about the passage in the Bible where Jesus asks a man who has been an invalid for 38 years if he wants to get well. I always thought it was a ridiculous question. Who wouldn’t want to be well after being not well for so long? But it’s interesting how we adapt to our unwellness. It becomes comfortable and we know how to function, how to survive. Throw us a curve and make us well? Then we have to operate in a new way.

Next year, I turn 37. (That’s eerily close to the 38 years mentioned in that passage.) And while I’m not sure if I’ve been “unwell” that entire time, I know that next year marks a turning point if I truly pursue wholeness. And it scares me a little. Because wholeness will change me, and even if the change is good (and it will be), it will be different than what I’ve known.

Still, I don’t want to offer excuses to the Lord for the reasons I’m not well. I want to hear his call to wholeness, pick up my mat and walk.

It’s sure to be a shaky journey, and if you aren’t afraid to walk it with me, I know I will need your support.

I also can’t end this post without asking you to consider choosing one word for next year. You don’t have to make it official by registering on the site although that does have the potential for community and accountability. You don’t have to blog about it, either, or publicize it on Facebook. But if you take some time to think about it and a word settles in your soul, will you tell someone about it so they can ask you how it’s going?

You can a leave a comment here with your word, too, and we’ll encourage each other along the way.


4 thoughts on “The missing key to joy {a OneWord365 reflection plus a 2015 revelation}

  1. Pingback: When music takes me back in time (and I’m not sure I want to leave the past) | Living Echoes

  2. Pingback: When the path to ‘whole’ takes an unexpected turn | Living Echoes

  3. Pingback: How I’m celebrating my 37th birthday | Living Echoes

  4. Pingback: How I’m finding the me I didn’t know was lost | Living Echoes

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