What’s Your Focus Word for 2019?

Do you have a focus word for 2019?

Focus words are intended to help us reframe our goals. We want to make the new year count, right? We want it to matter. So we find words that we hope will help us to do that.

Our chosen “word of the year” could take us in any direction. Consider the following suggestions I found on thegoalchaser.com: belong, calm, cultivate, declutter, embody, gratitude, habit, immerse, laughter, learn.

The possibilities are endless.

In years past my words have been ‘listen’ and ‘believe,’ though I admit, I stopped paying attention to my focus word sometime around the middle of February. This year, I hope it will be different.

Sunday, my word emerged in conversation.

I was in the cereal aisle of a grocery store trying to pick out a flavor of Special K without disturbing the woman who was standing in front of the shelves. She was lost in thought, her cart motionless before her.

“Oh, gosh. I’m so sorry! I’m in your way!” she said when she noticed me.

“No! No, it’s fine. I don’t really know what I want anyway. I’ve got my list here, but my mind’s wandered far off it now.” I smiled and looked into her deep brown eyes.

She nodded, frowned slightly, and gazed down at her purse on the cart’s little seat. “I haven’t even pulled my list out,” she said, “I don’t know what I’m doing either.”

There are times when strangers become intimates for no apparent reason. It happened just then. She looked into the middle distance between us and said,

“My husband wanted me to leave the house so he could watch the Ravens game.”

Then her eyes met mine.

“You know?”

I pursed my lips and said with care and an effort toward steadiness,

“We all carry burdens. Especially women. It’s like we haul around a bundle of concerns behind us all the time.”

I immediately wished I hadn’t added that last part – about women. Because men have worries too. All of us have ‘junk’ that affects us in ways we wish it wouldn’t.

I had no idea (of course) what had transpired between her and her husband. Perhaps he had spoken very harshly to her. Or perhaps he had suggested she do something for herself and she misinterpreted his meaning. Regardless, her face conveyed hurt and a need for compassion. She jumped on what I’d said, and that was alright, because whatever had happened, my words had met her heart right where it was.

“Yes!” she smiled with relief. “We should have tea sometime and talk about it!”

I nodded and smiled again, trying to wordlessly reassure this stranger that it was fine to have confided in me – a fellow traveler on the road of life.

“Go easy now,” I added, “Go gently today. Try to enjoy your afternoon. Ok?”

“Thank you! Thank you! I will.”

And she pulled away, breathing in and out a little more deeply as she left.

Did you catch my word of the year?

It was whispered to me as I prayed a couple weeks ago.

The word is – Gently.

I was preaching to her because I was preaching to myself.

For 2019, I need to be more gentle with myself.

Let me ask you…

Do you ever get the feeling…

That you are misaligned and have lost touch with your essential self?

That you are pushed by an uncaring force that wants you to be someone you are not?

Do you speak harshly to yourself? In ways that you would NEVER speak to someone else?

Does your inner voice echo the American mantra: You MUST Do More. Try Harder. Aim Higher.?

Sometimes – oftentimes – this is me.

I believe I’m being called to consider an alternative path. A way that’s far better for me. The way I was created to walk.

Over the last few months I have been blessed with the realization that living wholeheartedly and authentically means – for me – surrendering to gentleness.

When I step back and view myself with love and tenderness, I can see that I am not much of a striver. I don’t do well when I push. I’m not wired for it. The best answers come to me in their own time. When I try to force decisions, or relationships, or creative pursuits, there are poor results. Frustrations. Migraine headaches.

And this is MORE than FINE.

So in 2019, I will try to ignore the world’s message to BE MORE. To jump into the endlessly flowing river of BUSYNESS and HUSTLE.

And instead – I will walk GENTLY through my days.

I will be more patient and kind with myself, and more peaceful with others. I hope and pray that I can learn all the beautiful facets of ‘my’ word this year.

How about you? Are you gentle with yourself? If not, feel free to adopt this word.

And if you already have another focus word, please share it with me. I would LOVE to know what it is.

6 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I love this word, especially for you! It’s perfect. Last year my word was “simplify”. It worked, and we are much happier for it. However, it was exhausting. Isn’t it funny how living one simple word can, really applying it, can have consequences that were initially unanticipated, although quite welcome. So this year I have chosen “self-care”. I think it may be two words, so I hyphenated it and decided it was one. I have done the one word mantra for 4 years now, some with more success than others. Good luck with “gentle”. ❤️

    1. Amy,

      Self-care is a great word! I think it’s a very important one, too. It goes beyond checking the boxes on getting regular check-ups and a good night’s sleep; it also involves allowing ourselves time to daydream and ask whether we are pursuing the activities that we know bring us joy. Without giving ourselves this time and freedom of movement, we become cold and demanding, and then we wonder why. I’m so happy for you to be pursuing self-care this year, and I look forward to hearing how this word manifests itself in your life! Thank you for sharing it with me.

      Peace and blessings always,

  2. My word is “small.” 2018 was a rough year for my goals (there was plenty of good and glory, but the goals went completely sideways) and the transition into 2019 found me in the worst mental health crisis I’ve ever endured. “Small” was my little act of rebellion against my need to DO ALL THE THINGS. This year, I need to recover from last. I am okay with being small, making small steps, obeying in small ways, and remembering my BIG GOD.

    1. Robin,

      What a GREAT word – small. There is nothing small about keeping our lives in proper perspective, and I think there is far too much emphasis everywhere we look on trying to DO more, BE more, ACHIEVE more, HAVE more, etc., as if somehow we need to prove our worth. But Jesus – GOD Himself – became small just to show us we don’t have to merit His love. And no matter what we do, we could never do enough to earn it – it is perfect from the start and He chooses to lavish us with it freely. We are beloved just as we are, and he cradles us tenderly, caring about the tiniest details of our lives. Our bodies. Our welfare. Our emotions. Our daily steps.

      Living small is recognizing that there is beauty is the unseen – that God cares intimately about every aspect of His creation. Small is not forgotten. It is integral to His plan. Think of the extraordinary role that atoms play in the substance of everything we see.

      I love your word. Please keep me posted on how this “small” year becomes a big experience for you.

      With prayers for many blessings,

  3. My word for this year is Joy – I am focusing on finding the joy in each day, in the little things, and in my Faith. It is a peaceful word so far!

    1. Hi Louise!

      What a perfect word – joy! It’s so much deeper than happiness, so much richer than even the best of smiles. May the joy of the Lord fill your spirit every day this year. Big hugs!


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