Why Choose

ONE WORD: Why Choose One Word

Editor’s Note: This post is part of the series “ONE WORD,” a two-week long effort hosted by Self Talk the Gospel in collaboration with the good people at One Word 365Keep track of the series here and check our daily e-mail newsletter for all posts. Don’t subscribe? Sign up!

Do it.

Pick a word.

Even if it’s not your thing or it’s too trendy for you or you’re too cool for it.15593198525_a0e4385a94_k

Do it. Three years ago I heard about choosing a word for the year and it seemed all the “cool kids” (AKA “cool bloggers”) were doing it.

So I didn’t pick a word. Fast forward two months and I was asked what I was hearing from God. In that moment I faced a choice and knew I had to choose whether to put on a mask or not. With trepidation I took the mask off and God chose a phrase for the year: Renewed Joy.  

“Renewed Joy” was the deepest longing of my soul as I had been drifting from myself. Deeper than resolutions or goals, it anchored me and gave me hope.

As the seasons changed and fall came, I started to hear other whisperings: you are making too many decisions out of fear.

What? Me? At this stage of my life? Isn’t fear a thing for your teens or twenties? Certainly not your forties. But it was true.

What is it angels say when they show up? Fear not, for I am with you.

Not, “Don’t be afraid because nothing bad won’t happen.” Not, “Don’t be afraid because it will be easy,” nor, “…because you won’t be misunderstood.” No, “fear not” because the great I AM is with you and you won’t be alone in your journey. Courage, dear one, courage. Be courageous because I am with you and fear is not a fruit of my spirit.


Deeper than resolutions or goals, it anchored me and gave me hope.


I wanted an Ebenezer of sorts and decided to spell out “courage” with blocks. I rummaged through my nieces’ toy blocks but there weren’t enough letters to spell courage. Nice idea, I thought, but not going to work. How ironic that “fear” is only four letters and easier to spell than “courage.” It’s also easier to live out.

A day later (I’m not the fastest car on the racetrack), it hit me: I was only missing an ‘a!’ And really, isn’t “cour_ge” what courage ends up looking like? If we wait until we have all of the letters, so to speak, that isn’t courage, that’s easy.

And so “Cour_ge” became the word for 2013, the year I publicly announced my resignation from a job in China–a job I’d had for 18 years and loved but knew the time had come to leave. “Cour_ge” for transitioning countries without a job. “Cour_ge” to recreate a life. “Cour_ge” to walk away from myself to, paradoxically, return to me.

As “Renewed Joy” had anchored me for a season, so did “Cour_age.” I wish I could say my experience with Oneword has been all roses and kittens and by choosing a word you’ll have the most Ah-May-Zing experience…But in the fall of 2013, a new word started to pop up around the edges of my soul.

There are times when God gives us freedom to make choices. And there are times when He stalks us like a lion at a watering hole coming upon a tasty gazelle.


There are times when God gives us freedom to make choices. And there are times when He stalks us like a lion at a watering hole coming upon a tasty gazelle.


If I had my druthers as the time came to pick a word to pray and live out in 2014, I’d have liked something along the lines of–


Don’t they sound fun and active? Like they’re going somewhere? Words an interesting person would live out, don’t cha think?

But not one of them would require much of a stretch for me because they are what I already do; they’re who I already am. So is it any surprise I’m drawn to them? No.

Instead, over and over I heard … Trust.

Well, of course I want to trust. But I also want to “Trust + Adventure” or “Trust + Organize.” I’m not so keen on “Trust, just Trust.”

During the Fall of 2013, as I wrote to people who financially support me, I had the sensation of doing the largest “trust fall” of my life. And I hate that sensation.

But as I sit here at the end of 2014, I can’t believe how painfully and beautifully perfect the word “Trust” turned out to be. The job I thought I’d get, I didn’t. The parent I thought I’d have for many more years to come, I don’t. And as we rounded the corner, racing towards 2015 I thought I’d learned what I needed to learn from “Trust,” I hadn’t. A deep personal layer was revealed a few weeks ago.

Maybe the whole point for the word.

So I’ll say it again. Do it. Pick a word for the year. For ideas and words to pray over, check out this list.

This fall, God whispered again and my soul exhaled, Practice Celebration.

I look forward to sharing the journey with you. Are you with me? What word are you picking?



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Image Credit: Evan Leeson, Creative Commons
Some Changes Made

Amy Young


Amy Young is readjusting to messy middle of life in the US after more than twenty years in China and the recent death of her dad. When she first moved to China she knew three Chinese words: hello, thank you and watermelon. Often the only words really needed in life. She is known to jump in without all the facts and blogs regularly at messymiddle.com and tweets as @amyinbj and is the most unbeautiful pinner Pinterest has ever seen (but she's having fun!).

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