I love words. I love the Word. I love Jesus and the Bible. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (John 1:1) We time-bound creatures like to mark beginnings, just as our Creator has done for us. One of the ways we do that is by choosing (getting?) a word for the new year. Some of mine have been rest, behold, breathe, praise, love. At first, I tend to be focused on the theme word, but as time passes, it fades. I noticed this increasing over years, so I gave up having a word.
In December, I began warming up to the idea of a word for 2021. With the roller coaster of the last nine months, it made sense that I wanted something that would be stabilizing over whatever the coming year holds. I often pray in the shower (I like them long and hot because it's my morning coffee - I drink decaf and tea, and not every day), so I started asking God for my word. Since I love words, my praying became playing. I almost didn't want to get a word, because I enjoyed the process so much (this is also very me - liking the research more than the finding). This helped keep me from choosing a word prematurely.
As 2020 came to a close, my shower prayers seemed to be leading me to a word - it was "release." I arrived there after rejecting more spiritual selections, because they were too vague and not the kind I could apply in the heat of the moment, which is when I need a word the most. I strongly considered "Jesus" because that is one of the few spiritual words which has power in every situation. I cannot think that name without it turning into a prayer, nor is it difficult to think of it. And yet, I sensed that was not my word for 2021. I thought it should be "release" because a recent, recurring message has been letting go. It's especially apropos as my children all become adults, with one officially that. I also felt drawn to it because I tend to want things a certain way and an enduring struggling is letting things go - not being a picky perfectionist control freak (just ask my husband).
Pondering "release" set me reviewing the myriad of "re" words that I find spiritually significant (see if you can find them in the rest of this post). That led me to "retreat" which has special significance to me because the women's reflective retreats I usually attend twice a year were cancelled, and I really missed them. I realized that I needed to be intentional to take time away (even just on a walk) to get solitude and silence, especially in creation. I also thought that "retreat" could be good for letting go, in that I could just withdraw instead of insisting on my own way. So then I was torn between "release" and "retreat," as well as attracted to "refresh" and "renew." I considered having a prefix instead of a word. I was already losing my focus, and I was only one day into the new year.
So I released "release," and was surprised to get a new "re" word that I knew was the one: "receive." Rather than letting go, I need to receive what comes. It's not about relinquishing and surrendering as much as it is about allowing and accepting. This made sense to me because of my Myers-Briggs knowledge. Being an INFJ, I have a judging preference as opposed to a perceiving preference, which means that I prefer to control what happens rather than receive it. I like to plan, order, and settle things rather than let come what may. I am more rigid than flexible (physically, too). While I am open to change and even initiate it (thanks to my intuiting preference), stability and routine characterize me more.
So I received "receive." I am hesitant to say it's already working, what with only a couple days of it, but it has made a difference so far. Instead of moving my husband's cap from the coat rack hook to the shelf above it, I said to myself, "receive it in that space," and I left it there. I felt a tinge of unexpected peace. I am looking forward to learning to receive what I would normally reverse or reject. A few times I refused "receiving," so it will definitely be a process, but I believe growth will come.
“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” ~John 1:12