I don’t have a word for 2014.

I have waited with expectancy, I have prayed, I have journaled, I have looked back over my year and ahead for the next and still: nothing.

Silence. Silence. Silence.

Over the years, I’ve had my life changed by the One Word project. I look back on my years of Enough and Moments and, most particularly, my year of Fearless as real God-inspired turning points in my life. I won’t ever be the same.

Last year, I didn’t have the big lightening moment of just knowing what my word should be. So I picked Light all on my own and I’ve got to be honest with you: it has meant next to nothing to me this year. There have been few times – precious few – when I really felt connected to that phrase.

I know why, of course: I chose that word, it did not choose me.

So this year, I’ve been stressing out about it. I didn’t want to just pick a word for the sake of a word but I felt weird about it. I mean, I do this every year! This is my thing! God always meets me here! What is up? I began to worry that my lack of a word last year and now this year was indicative of something wrong.

I took my fears to my friend, Kelley, and she helped me find some clarity on the topic. It seems that just when I think I’ve got a pattern established, just when I have a formula, just when I think to myself, “this is how it always works” for encountering the Spirit, God likes to disrupt my patterns.  We don’t get formulas. We don’t get cookie cutter spirituality. And sometimes what was once a profound place of change and growth becomes a chain instead of liberation.

One of my complaints with being a charismatic is that we tend to be people who say, “Remember when God moved here? That was amazing. I wish it was like that still.” We long for the days that have gone by, the days when we felt the Spirit differently or in a way that we expected. Whether it’s looking back on an amazing revival or a season of renewal, whether it was a season of growth as a church or as an individual, we tend to romanticize the ways God has met us in the past and long for the past until we forget: God is doing a new thing.

It seems that the pillar of fire has moved on from the place where I set up camp to experience God and now I have a choice: I can stay here and mourn the loss of my fire or I can pack up and march out into the new place, following the fire where it goes.

I’m choosing to march. One foot in front of the other, faithful, steady, on the path I was shown.

May there be daily bread here, too.

I don’t know why I didn’t really have a word last year. I don’t know why I don’t have a word this year.

But I know I’m done with trying to manufacture the Spirit or conjure up an experience that simply isn’t there.

I’m done with manipulating myself or the people around me. Faking it isn’t an option.

I’m done with looking longingly back on the ways where God has met me in the past, wishing it was like that still.

God has moved on from this place for me and so instead of trying to create my own fire or pretend the fire is here still, I’m going to try to follow to the new place, wherever He leads.

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  • This really hits home with me! I am so inspired by people who have a word for the year choose them, but it hasn’t come to me. I love the idea of marching on wherever He leads. Thank you so much for sharing today! *hugs*

  • April Fiet

    I have one word this year for the first time. “Love” reached out and grabbed hold of me. But, I agree this kind of thing can’t be forced. Perhaps your learning edge for the year is openness and receptivity to the Spirit’s ebb and flow. I think that can be a wonderful thing, too. 🙂

    I blogged about why “love” is my word. I hope to revisit it at the end of the year and see how it went for me. http://aprilfiet.com/theology-culture/one-word-year/

  • I hate that God likes to disrupt our patterns. I love my patterns, they are so safe. I love anything I can call ‘my thing!’, I love the good old days.

    But thanks for this. I hope I’m wise to the new things God is doing in my patch and not stubbornly holding on… “And sometimes what was once a profound place of change and growth becomes a chain instead of liberation.” … I’m going to think some more on this!!

  • Wise words, lady. Funny how often we tend to return to the same stagnant pool rather than open ourselves to Living Water.

    “Whatever it is you’re seeking won’t come in the form you’re expecting.”
    (Haruki Murakami)

  • KimberlyCoyle

    I tried to choose my own word this year, and God promptly gave me a different one. Mine sounded so much better in my head, but I know the word He’s given me will transform my heart. I’m believing with you that He will indeed do a new thing in you and through you this year.

  • This is my first year choosing One Word, and that is what drew me in: That it’s not a New Year’s thing or a certain timeline. It can show up two weeks into December and still be a challenging word. It seems that, with all your business of the past year, sitting and resting in the silence is your “word.” (Can you sit and rest and march at the same time?) Thanks for sharing your journey!

    http://annierim.wordpress.com/2013/12/31/one-word-grace/

  • Elizabeth

    Love this. I have tried so many times to make God show up in the same costume He showed up for someone else, but He doesn’t seem to repeat His outfits very often! “Behold I will do a new thing.” No kidding. 🙂

  • Susan

    Maybe your word could be “real” – as opposed to fake? Kidding. I think the willingness to march is the important piece. This will shape your year. God bless.

  • Me either friend, although I really haven’t put as much work into sussing it out as you have. This year feels fraught with potential and scary, beautiful, shaping adventure. If I had anything I think it would be “enough” just believing that I’m enough for the call, the things that High School and Little Girl me never believed herself worthy of.

    Even that.. that “enough” seems like an ill fit, like something that may be too small by June. Whatever that may bring.

  • Count me in with Kimberly. Not sure where this one is going, but I have faith that it will transform me.

    https://sites.google.com/site/holyhugs/allow

  • this is amazing. you have this wonderful way of being so transparent on all the ucky stuff that we would so much rather hide. I admire you so much for being so. honest.

    thank you, thank you, love you.

  • Molly E. Brewer

    The phrase “God is doing a new thing” has been at the heartbeat of my church as we go in to this upcoming season. I too have been wishing I could have one word, when I realized that the point of this year for me is that this will be a year of many words. Promise. Grow. Wait. Write. Rest. Prepare.

    I wish I could go back to my special moments of complete Holy Spirit immersion; then I remember that I do not own a Tardis, and would honestly much rather have the Holy Spirit meet me where I am, in new ways, rather than where I’ve been, and just like it was before.

  • Westcoastlife

    Love your insight about Charismatics always looking back, I fear my non-charismatic friends think I am “living in the past” and need to “just accept it and be content where you are” when, what I really need to do, is pick up and move on towards the pillar.

    Val

  • Thank you for this, Sarah.
    I too am tempted to say: look at the way God did move. But it’s sort of like asking how Jesus healed (never the same way twice).
    Looking forward to walking this year with you and seeing what new things God does.
    xoxo.

  • kristina

    maybe “silence” is your word?

    • pj

      this was my thought exactly. “Silence. Silence. Silence.”

  • thelifeartist

    I told the opposite sort of story on my blog today…. I didn’t want a word this year and I done did got one anyway! =)

  • JViola79

    I loved reading this post. It struck me funny (and I do apologize as I have a quirky sense of humor) that you didn’t pick a word & this is my first year picking one. And it is funny as my one word truly did come to me repeatedly the month of Dec. But here’s the thing…your post reminded me of a verse that I have been looking at since Friday night. “Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath, remember mercy.” (Habakkuk 3:2). My word is “Faith” & this Scripture so well expresses my desire – I want to see and experience His activity more this year. I want to see His deeds in my life & in the lives of those around me. I want to experience Him. And that is what I have prayed for you. Whether you have a word or not, may you have Him in greater abundance this year. May He renew His deeds in & through your life. May you stand in awe of Him & what He will do in the days ahead. So glad you shared this post! Blessings!

  • Susan

    Love this Sarah!

  • JennaDeWitt

    Wow. Sarah, this is so what I needed to hear today after a weekend of asking these questions. That’s why my phrase is “guard your ‘shoulds.'” I keep saying things like “I should be more mature by now. I should be a leader in my spiritual community. I should be wiser/stronger/a better friend. I should be more connected to God, hearing His voice like I used to, leading out a revival here, ministering to others….” I have shoulds for Him too. But this year I’m taking your words here and building them up as guards against the shoulds of what life in the Spirit is “supposed to” look like. Thanks.

  • makeda

    Learning to welcome God’s disruptions can be really hard, especially for us who are recovering control freaks (hello, my name is Makeda and I’m a control freak). But when we do let go and allow for His disruptions the things we experience simply take our breathe away. Thank you for sharing these words. They are a reminder to this control freak that He needs space to show just how big He really is. Thank you

  • “One of my complaints with being a charismatic is that we tend to be people who say, “Remember when God moved here? That was amazing. I wish it was like that still.” We long for the days that have gone by, the days when we felt the Spirit differently or in a way that we expected. Whether it’s looking back on an amazing revival or a season of renewal, whether it was a season of growth as a church or as an individual, we tend to romanticize the ways God has met us in the past and long for the past until we forget: God is doing a new thing.”

    Yes. I had this exact conversation with someone a few weeks ago. It’s hard, though – because when we change we just experience the absence of something before we recognise the presence of the new thing.

    Praying for you as you march.

  • Daniel McDonald

    Thank you Sarah for this one. I’ve never been in a “charismatic movement” but felt much closer to the movement because in traditions I have been in whether “Reformed” or “Anglican” (my tribes) we too have had the tendency to say “remember when” even if our memory was history seen through nostalgia forgetting that there was a lot of mundane and also some painful forgotten with the exciting remembered. Sometimes when I can’t figure out where I am supposed to go next I remember the title of the Jewish philosopher-theologian Abraham Heschel’s book: “God in search of man.” I love that title, sometimes when we can’t figure out where to go next we just have to wait because God is still in search of man, whether literally a man or a feminist. Sometimes we don’t find him because we aren’t willing to wait for him to find us.

  • Thank you for speaking the Real. And what I love is that you don’t set yourself up as “The Pattern”, either. Having a word for a year is a holy and good thing. Not having a word is a holy and good thing, too. It makes me look into myself and realize how quickly I turn God into a formula instead of staying in relationship.

  • Sarah, I enjoyed this so much. I think we can find comfort in making God predictable. Aren’t we glad He’s not! Thanks for your willingness to share your journey with us! So glad faking it isn’t an option! Can’t wait to read more!

  • pastordt

    I never got one last year, either. But this year? Yikes. Whapped me right in the face, that’s what. So – all I can say is. . . wait a while. :>)

  • Kelly W

    I’d not heard about one word till last year.

    While I felt that my word (“worthy”) wasn’t it at the time. – oh it was! It was more a case of Isaiah 30:21… Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

    Maybe your word for this year is “silence” or “listen” or “wait”? Or maybe it’s time to focus elsewhere? Blessings

  • Donna L

    For me, I’ve noticed that whenever I start to lean on something other than Jesus, God has a tendency to kick it out from under me–this has happened to me so many times over the years. This is the first year I learned of this project, and I’m excited about it, but I know if I start to rely too much on this practice, whammo–God will remove it. And that’s fine too!

  • Ella gamberi

    10 years ago exactly I was living in a church cult. It was run by men who believed women were the reason everything went wrong. It was my fault that my son has Asperger’s Syndrome which could be healed if I simply became more obedient. The fact that they couldn’t actually tell me exactly what I was doing that was unsubmissive was beside the point. They always framed their accusations in very polite and vague terms but women were always under no illusion about who was at fault. “this is the worst case of emotional dysfunction we have ever seen. All he needs is his mother’s love”. When he got a official diagnosis of AS they still couldn’t see their own wickedness. It was still somehow my fault.
    The word God gave me that year was “integrity” and I didn’t realise at the time what he meant. I needed to have it, I needed to exhibit it, I needed to understand what it was. I looked it up on the internet, I prayed about it, I analysed it, I meditated on it. I still didn’t really ‘get’ it. About a year later we left that church, but not until my husband was operated on for a melanoma and my father died. Trauma was the tool God used to bring integrity to my life.
    My suggestion is to be careful when you hit on words from God. They inevitably bring great change, and are usually prophetic. Coming up with words of our own is tempting, but nothing replaces a word from the Lord.
    Bless every woman who reads this and bring you into all that he has for you in 2014, a significant year for all of us.

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