Somewhere early in my blog writing I struggled with titles. I could make each title intriguing or eye-catching. I could be forthright and clear. However, neither of these approaches worked for me. I decided to just use one word in the title. This required me to narrow down on the main idea of the blog. I knew it wouldn’t draw a lot of attention – if I used flashier titles I might get more traffic – but that isn’t the point of this. So, each time I write I come up with one word to describe my thoughts for the day.
It dawned on me that I do the same thing each morning when praying for others. I write down the person’s name and then one word – one word that sums up my prayer for that person. Words like, light, peace, relief, health, etc. fill the prayer section of my daily journal. I could use multiple words and long sentences and flowery paragraphs to pray for them, but one word is enough. God knows what that word means, I know what that word means – why is it necessary to elaborate?
Over the past few years I’ve seen various adaptations on #olw #onelittleword #oneword365 – rather than making a resolution, people choose one word as an intention for the year to come. I’ve never made resolutions, but considering my focus on one word these past several months, the idea spoke to me.
On Christmas morning I read this quote from Richard Foster in my journal; here’s a portion of it:
When we determine to dwell on the good and the excellent things in life, we will be so full of those things that they tend to swallow our problems.
That jumped out at me and then the word gratitude came to mind. This is a trendy word, I realize that, but it’s more than #blessed. If I look for the joy in life, I will notice joy more often. If my heart is filled with gratitude, even during difficult times, perhaps I will celebrate more. This isn’t to say that my grief will disappear, but perhaps gratitude and all that comes when I practice a life of gratitude will join my grief. Together they can help me become more fully whole.
I’ve already started doing this. A month or so ago I needed a way of reflecting on my day, so when I lay down at night I recounted the opportunities, encounters and experiences for which I was grateful. Even on the hardest days, I was able to come up with moments of gratitude. They may have been small, but they were there. And really, when I think about my middle class life in the Midwest surrounded by family and friends – how can I not be grateful? This doesn’t mean I can’t be sad too – those two don’t discount each other.
I decided a visual would come in handy for my one little word for 2017. Although I like to think of myself as a person full of gratitude, one who doesn’t take things for granted, there are times that I’m not grateful – times when I want life to be easier or less painful. In those moments I focus more on what I don’t have rather than what is present in my life. So, I made something to look at each day – to remind me of my one word:
Whatever your word or resolution or intention may be, may you find joy and peace and comfort in the year to come. And, remember, be gentle with yourself and others – 2017 is a first for all of us.