Last year, for the first time, I chose a word of the year. In 2018 I chose grace. And it carried me through a year of joy and sorrow. I went back to grace all throughout the year. Studying it, sitting with it, accepting it, giving it. Being kind of saved by it. Over and over.
So this year? My word has big shoes to fill. Last year changed me forever, and grace was just what my heart needed. I don’t know what this new year will bring. But I hope this word, this mantra, this prayer that I choose now will serve my heart during this new year.
As I’ve prayed over and planned this year, considering what I want it to be, I’ve noticed how I feel. Some of my business goals feel more like should’s than get to’s. Some of my ideas feel too big. Overwhelming. My general sentiment as I consider the new year? Tired. Just meh. The things I jot down for the year feel like natural progressions, but don’t fire me up. The obvious next steps don’t invigorate me and drive me. So what does make me excited? What is that big deep down thing I want this year? The one word that can sum up my vision for my heart, mind, spirit, life, business? Well, I can tell you that when it came it me, it felt so right. So comfortable. So relieving. It’s perfect.
Yet also? This word I’ve chosen feels like it’s not allowed. Bold in a way because it’s the opposite of what the world tells me to be. But I know it’s what my heart needs now, in this season. We’re going into our last year of all three girls at home or in preschool. And so before kindergarten in 2020, while all my babies are still babies, I need this one thin.
My word of 2019 is Quiet.
Quiet. It makes me feel kind of at peace just to say it. And it’s funny because my life is absolutely not quiet in any way. Not by a long shot. I have three kids. My house is never quiet. Never. The squealing, giggling, singing, chattering, squabbling, crying, and wailing of little girls permeate pretty much every waking minute of my life. Sweet and constant. And not quiet. Actually, even when my girls are at preschool in the morning, I spend that time with my Mini Motions students. Dancing, giggling, singing, chattering. Not quiet. I even fall asleep to the sounds of the sound machine waves through the baby monitor. And in the night, I’m awakened by sounds of baby cries, the pitter patter of little feet running to my bed. Not quiet.
But I don’t mind the noise. The noise of my babies and my students. Those are the sounds of sweetness and innocence and purity and light. Those sounds, even as ever constant as they are? Those sounds are a gift. A reminder of a faithful God of light and love and mercy and grace.
So my word? My quiet? It’s not about the actual absence of sound from my physical surroundings. My quiet is contentment. Stillness of mind and body and spirit. It’s humility and service and diligence and perseverance. It’s a state of being. A choice. And it’s calling me this year.
This year, I choose quiet. A quiet mind free from the endless distractions of a digital world. Instead of scrolling social media and filling my mind with digital noise, I will quietly write with pen and paper. My journaling habit goes back years, but I’ve written less and less lately. So this year, I see myself stealing minutes in the morning before the girls are awake. Reaching for my journal when they fall asleep in the car. Maybe even sitting on the beach and working myself through the big stuff with my pen and paper - my mind miles away from my phone, from the busyness that swirls around me, from all the noise. I see myself focused. Intentional. Confident. Quiet. Practicing calm and contentment in a chaotic and insatiable world.
I’m quieting our schedule this year, too. Making space for margin, where creativity and joy can blossom. We’re going against the grain and writing our own story. We’re slowing our pace so we have time to look around. To connect. To grow. To love. This school year we’ve rushed and micromanaged and fallen apart. We’ve put our heads down and raced so hard that we’ve bypassed each other. Each of us running our part of the race, but never catching up to each other. And now? I choose different. I want a quiet walk with my family. Hand in hand. I want us each to have a schedule that is deep in what we love the most. And we’ll just let go of the rest.
And this year, quiet means rest. It means stopping when I’ve done enough. Scheduling time to physically stop. To be still. To rest. To notice. To give thanks. And allowing the same for my family. Building rest in to our family rhythm. Giving my kids space to be still. Showing them that rest and reflection are good and necessary. That stillness is a blessing - a gift God gives us because we are already enough, already worthy, already loved. So this year? We’ll do good work. And we’ll rest. As He did when he Created the heavens and the earth.
And mostly? I want to learn a quiet spirit. And I will have to learn it. And practice. Make time for Selah every day - for pause and praise. For quiet. I want to be quiet in spirit so I can listen. Listen to my family. To my friends. To God. I’ve been to that quiet place before. Where my spirit is content, my faith is strong, and my cup overflows. But lately I’ve allowed some noise to creep in to my heart. To muddle my spirit, and disturb that sweet quiet place. And I see it. I see it in my sharp responses to others. In my self doubt. In my overwhelm. And I’m ready to refocus and declutter. To push out the noise again and relearn a quiet spirit. Where contentment and joy and thanksgiving are constants. Where love leads and grace reigns.
As I consider quiet, my mind keeps coming back to the idea of depth. And it makes sense. In deep waters. It’s quiet. And we’re surrounded by water. When we are deep in despair or grief or pain? God can feel quiet. And we’re surrounded by despair. But we can go deep into Him. And then? When we are deep in God? Our spirits can finally quiet. Because we are surrounded by Him. And we can live in that sweet place. Where we are content and joyful and hopeful.
So that’s how I’m moving forward in this new year. Quiet in mind, body, and spirit. So that I can hear God, and know myself and my people better. And so that I can enjoy simplicity and margin, and make room for opportunity and creativity. So that I can rest. This year, it’s so simple that it’s bold. I want to dwell in the quiet deep of what matters the very most to me. Surrounded. And it’s going to be so good.