Wrestling With My One Word

Sometimes God surprises me with things that don’t seem much like gifts at the time.

Can I be honest with you?  The reason I sat on my One Word for 2016 post for five days before I hit “publish” was this: I wasn’t super psyched about the word God had given me.

I wanted something different.  I wasn’t aware of it before I sat down on New Year’s morning, but in hindsight I realize that I was hoping for my One Word to be something super peaceful, super encouraging… super restful…

I wanted something passive.  Something that wouldn’t require much from me other than just showing up and being myself.

…Something like the word He gave me in 2011: “Rest.”  Or like the one He gave me three years ago: “Enjoy.”  Even last year’s word “Follow” was good for me— it implied responsibility on my part, but ultimately the real work was being done by the One I was following.  He was leading me and my job was “merely” to stay in tune with Him and follow His lead.  After all, isn’t “Following” what being a disciple of Jesus is really all about?  Walking in the dust of our Rabbi, our Teacher, the One with all the wisdom and insight and answers?

So I would have been fine with another year of “Follow.”

Or maybe He could have commissioned me to “Abide” all year?  Or “Dwell”?  Or “Chill”?

But no.  God told me to “Persevere.”


Ugh.  I want to be comfortable, God.  I want life to be easy and fluid and unchallenging.  I want God to do all the hard work and me to just coast along in His wake…

But that’s not really what real life is like, is it?

When I think about it, I realize this:  Last year— my glorious year of “Follow”— was actually one of the hardest I’ve had in quite some time.  Don’t get me wrong: it was beautiful and rewarding and insightful and incredible in many many ways… but it was dang hard.  Any growth I’ve experienced, any maturity I gained, any victories I enjoyed, any improvements in my marriage or in my parenting or in my relationships with my extended family members was hard won.  I can’t think of a single meaningful growth-moment that occurred this past year that came without effort, hard work, and maybe even uncomfortable conflict.

That’s what happened when I followed the lead of my Rabbi.  He took me to challenging self-discoveries.  To grueling conversations.  To decisions that required high doses of God-infused courage.  He took me outside my safe haven of solitude and self-absorption and good excuses and He opened my eyes to an aching self, aching family members, and an aching world around me.  A self, family and world that needed me to step up and be my true self here.  To be His hands and feet here.  A world that needed me to find out who I really am so that I can fulfill my God-given purpose in this broken world.

follow the lead

So even though I was really hoping for a promise of rest and relaxation this year, I have come to an official decision:

I think the word God chose for me for this year was quite possibly right on after all.

(It’s almost like He knows more than me…!)

Although at first glance the word “Persevere” made me cringe with anticipation that maybe God was mentally prepping me for some crazy hardship that this year might hold…  And although when I first received the word “Persevere” I thought I must be mis-hearing God because surely He wouldn’t want me to put any effort into my life…

I am actually beginning to realize that part of what He is saying with “Persevere” is basically “Keep up the good work.”  

Keep following Me.

Keep resting.

Keep refusing to strive in your own strength.

Keep enjoying the life and the relationships I’ve given you.

Keep tuning into Me and My Truth and My Grace.

Keep learning and growing and tackling challenging situations and relationships head on.

Don’t shrink back from conflict like you used to.

Don’t give up on yourself when you fail or falter.

Don’t give up when your relationships get overwhelmingly challenging for you.

“I know you’re tired and this isn’t easy,” He is saying to me, “but keep moving forward.  Keep listening to me.  Keep stepping in my footprints and following my lead.”

Even though at times it is discouraging or challenging or exhausting, my Leader is reminding me to persevere.  And keep up the good work.


* * *

What about you?

What is your “One Word” for 2016?  When has God ever told you something or given you something that you didn’t want… but perhaps it turned out to be okay in the end?

Please feel free to share your comments or your own journey in the comment section below.


(P.S. Linking up with the refreshingly honest & raw Bonnie Gray today)
OneWordCoffee Linkup



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  1. This is good. I didn’t do the word thing before this year, technically I felt God say to “write” last January but then many battles hit head on and I wasn’t able to like I wanted, so your post here resonated with me a whole lot. I think if I would have got the word Persevere I probably would have initially felt the same way. I love how you were able to flip the coin and see it from the other side, like God cheering you on. That is very encouraging! // Your Previous Barista Neighbor:)

    • Thank you for your encouragement! I pray you will continue to heed God’s call on you to write out your heart– it’s the best free therapy I’ve found! Bless you!

  2. I totally identify with your feelings about your word. This is the first year I’m focusing on a word and the word God has given me is “Surrender” which just scared me at first. I am already beginning to like it more though and starting to understand more what the word actually means. It will be interesting to see how things work out over the year.

    • I’m glad to know I’m not alone in my wrestling, Carly. I pray God will strengthen and lead you as you surrender this year. Bless you, friend.

  3. Lisa

    How did we not talk about your word yesterday?! Gah.
    I’d be happy if my word were “ice cream” or “sweatshirt” or “no laundry”…. I’ll pray about it. Glad you’re living the realness of life. ??

    • Ha! Yes, I think “no laundry” would be great, too! But alas- The ever-existent pile in my bedroom is a constant reminder that that is not, in fact, my destiny…

  4. Hi Kristi,
    I’m visiting from Bonnie’s link-up and I was intrigued by your struggle! Sometimes I feel as if I’m choosing a word to predict my year, not reflect on so I could relate to your reluctance with persevere! But I love the different take of carrying on with the good work you’re already doing. I decided not to choose a word for the year but I’ll reconsider! Enjoyed my visit here!

    • I’m so glad you stopped by for a visit! ? Thank you for your affirmation and encouragement!

  5. There are probably some people who could benefit from “chill” being their word of the year, but like you, I think it would be too passive on my part. Here I am Lord, just sitting on my patio, chillin’ like you told me to….

    I’m still trying to determine my word, but like your word, persevere, I want my word to encourage me to keep up the good work as well as challenge me to continue growing 2016. Thanks for sharing your word with us!
    {visiting from Faith Barista}

    • Ha! Yes, “chill” would be some nice marching orders! And, perhaps ironically?, He did give me “rest” (subtitled “stop striving”) a few years back- which is exactly what I needed at that time due to some serious imbalance I had cultivated in my life. But, alas, I am now encouraged to “persevere.”

      Thank you for stopping by. I pray your”word” comes clearly and in the right timing, as I’m sure it will. ☺️

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