A theme for the year

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A couple years ago I heard about the practice of choosing a word to characterize each year. Rather than making New Year’s resolutions, this creating a framework or tone that would be a theme the next 365 days. This is the third year I’ve done this and each year I’ve been surprised by the word I land on after prayer and thoughtful consideration.

In 2015, the word was rest.

In 2016, the word was productive.

In 2017, the word is slow.

Maybe there’s a pattern forming that I’m unaware of, but either way it’s been a life-giving and valuable key that unlocks how I approach day-to-day activities and mindsets. Our family went through a lot of massive changes in 2015. We moved cities, changed jobs, switched church campuses, and embraced a new community. In the midst of all the upheaval, rest formed the underlying foundation of each big change as well as the mundane activities that made up our days. Rest did not always mean peace. It was a state of mind rather than a descriptor of our actions. In 2016, my two kids were older and more independent and the dust had settled from the previous year. Productive became my mantra in personal interests, daily chores, and engagement with friends and family. I wanted the time spent with people to produce life and deep connection.

This year, the word is slow.

Slow is a scary word to me. It’s scary because it’s contrary to my natural instincts and personality. Ever since I can remember, I have always tried to accomplish the most amount of stuff in the shortest amount of time. My brain immediately begins figuring out the most efficient way to do whatever needs to be done during the week, day, hour. I often find our biggest strengths are also our biggest weaknesses.

Slightly inspired by the Danish word hyggethe word for 2017 is slow.

Slow in my reading life. In my devotional life, I felt convicted to dive deeper and read slower. Poetry and memoirs and biographies force me to pause and think so I’ve filled my to-read list with my favorite poets and individuals I want to learn from.

Slow in food and meals. The slow food movement is growing in popularity and want to take time to garden and use foods that are in season more than ever this year. It’s also about savoring and lingering around the table at meal times.

Slow in relationships. It will take every ounce of energy to force myself to slow down and not rush the time I have with people. This means so many things. It’s enjoying the moment of reading several books to my instead of getting itchy to move on after two or three. It’s sitting leisurely with my husband and just chilling with no agenda. It’s about leaving margin in my days and weeks rather than filling them so that they’re bursting at the seams.

Slow in communication. Making snap judgments and pronouncements comes so easily and it’s time to slow down and pause before speaking. Last year I started to write letters to friends. The act of putting thoughts down on pen and paper rather than a quick text or message does amazing things for my soul. One of the most thoughtful gifts I received this Christmas was a wax seal set and it will be getting a lot of use.

Slow in work. For most of my life, I squeeze as much as I can into everyday. I desire to slow down and give more attention and care to the important as well as the menial tasks and find joy in each of them even when they’re difficult, dull, or demanding.

So here’s to slow. Slow in consuming things. Slow in savoring the moment. Slow in seeing the world. Slow in embracing rather than rushing through the season, which is oh so tempting on these cold, January days.

If you were to come up with one word for the year, what would it be? Hoping you all find something that brings joy, purpose, and definition to this new, beautiful year ahead.

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