New Year’s Eve had arrived. After reading my quick reflection on my word of 2018, my husband asked if I had decided what 2019’s would be. I talked about my lingering uncertainty, though deep down, I knew what my word needed be. I was just afraid of it.
“Loved what you said about consistency, by the way! I’m sensing that may need to be my word of 2019. That SCARES me because I feel so bad at it—which probably means I need to commit to making it my word.”
I sent that message to a friend in mid-December. As the next couple of weeks went by, I continued to wrestle with “consistency.” It seemed so stark, unyielding—so far from my natural tendencies.
Another friend suggested I add some kind of buffer: “consistency with grace,” perhaps?
I appreciated her perspective. I’ve certainly been known to start too many new things at once, then surrender to overwhelm.
I wondered if I could challenge myself to grow in a way that set myself up for success rather than failure. How would I capture all this in a single word?
My husband paused and furrowed his brow as I dished out my New Year’s Eve dinner. Suddenly, he told me I needed to call his sister.
I texted her instead and discovered the two of them had already been discussing my word of 2019. Somehow it had come up in their conversation. When Jonathan told her my (possible) word, it immediately brought tears to her eyes.
Curiouser and curiouser.
She shared a nutshell version of the way God has been her anchor through the storm of challenges she has faced over the past 18 months, how he has constantly, faithfully, consistently proven himself to her.
I’m not proud of it, but my initial reaction was an even deeper feeling of dread. What if God was leading me in this direction to prepare me for some huge, hard thing coming down the pike this year?
I sat with those feelings as we continued to talk. I knew I wouldn’t fully understand right away, but I hoped to feel a little more, well, hopeful about where this was heading.
Then it hit me: if God was leading me toward “consistency” for 2019—which, deep down, I knew he was—he wasn’t setting me up for failure by expecting me to suddenly be perfectly consistent in all areas of my life. Instead, he was inviting me to partner with him in much-needed—and much-longed-for--new growth.
Paul’s words in 1 Thessalonians 5:24 came to mind: “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.”
What an opportunity! I’m now excited rather than weighed down by this direction for the year. I can trust that God is leading me this way because he’s ready to do some deep work to help me grow in consistency. And yes, there will likely be difficulty, even pain, along the way. But he has a plan, and I can trust him.
As I look toward practical steps, two immediately come to mind:
1. Start small.
I know I need to break things down into small, tiny even, steps if I want a chance at learning to be more consistent in the areas with which I struggle.
I love Kendra Adachi’s Lazy Genius approach to this. She recommends starting a new habit by slowly building steps so small you can’t fail. In this podcast episode, she shared how she started working toward her goal of practicing yoga each morning by doing a single downward facing dog every day.
In the past, I’ve felt too impatient for these kinds of tiny steps, but I’m now ready to give it a go. I think I’ve finally learned that jumping all-in right away just isn’t sustainable for me.
Keep an eye out for future posts that share more about this process in a few keys areas like developing a healthier writing life and growing in consistency as a parent.
2. Look for and make note of God’s consistency as I read scripture.
The Bible often uses the word “faithful” to describe God. Faithful and consistent aren’t exactly the same thing, but there’s a lot of overlap. As I see it, God’s actions aren’t completely consistent, but his nature is. In other words, we can’t predict exactly what God will do in each situation, but we can trust that his actions will always be rooted in his love and perfect wisdom.
As I ask for God’s help growing in consistency this year, I want to constantly be getting to know him better. I’ll search the scriptures not just—not even primarily—to see his example, but to know him better, trust him more, and invite his power to work in my life through the Holy Spirit.
I know there will be times I fail at being consistent, but I also know he won’t fail me.
If you’re reading this and haven’t yet chosen a word for the year, I have a couple of thoughts just for you.
First, it’s not required. Maybe the word-of-the-year idea would be helpful for you, but maybe it’s not the right fit for you or at least not the right fit for you this year. That’s totally okay.
Second, if you do want to choose a word for 2019 but haven’t yet, it’s not too late! Even though I fall prey to this line of thinking, there’s truly nothing magical about January 1. My friend Alison McLennan recently pointed that out on Instagram. And with that welcome reminder came another: “the transformed life is about a long obedience in the same direction.”
This year, may we take small but significant steps in the direction God is leading us.
Quiz: Where are you on your writing journey? If writing more intentionally is on your list for 2019, I encourage you to explore hope*writers. This is an online writing community that has so much to offer, no matter where you are on your writing journey. If you’re not sure where you are on that path, hope*writers has you covered there too. You can take this fun quiz and find out!
Joining hope*writers has been one of the best decisions I’ve made in the past year. I hope you’ll explore if it may be a good fit for you too!
What are you hoping for and aiming toward this year? As always, I’d love to hear from you in the comments!