2016 … A Word and More.
So it turns out that the main thing that separates us from the cave man – either of the true anthropological variety or of the GEICO commercial variety – and let’s face it, those commercials were the bomb – is language. Words. Oral communication. Otherwise, I’m not sure how much we’ve evolved.
Cave man needed food, shelter, and water to survive. Modern man needs food, shelter, and water to survive.
Cave man sought to provide for his family. Modern man seeks to provide for his family.
Cave man needed fire and some kind of animal skin (a.k.a. prehistoric fashion) to stay warm. Modern man needs fire and some kind of fashion (1970s polyester notwithstanding as that was just a government-backed social experiment to see if masses of humanity would willingly walk around in flame-retardant ‘material’ in the event of spontaneous urban area volcanic eruptions or, say, pyrotechnics gone awry from a physics experiment in Roswell) to stay warm.
We might be depressed if we considered how little we have evolved from the Cave Man Days – if we were the getting depressed kind – were we not able to focus on how beautifully we have evolved from the grunt-based communications of yesteryear to the actual word-based communications of today.
One glorious piece of evidence of our linguistic evolution is this thing that has become a thing in recent years: having a word for the year, a word that in theory sets the tone for the year ahead. Some folks don’t care two shakes about picking a word – possibly their cave man roots are still too strong? I don’t want to surmise – and some can’t imagine starting the new year without one.
For some it is a deeply spiritual exercise where they pray over what the word of the upcoming year should be. The folks I know who have bounteous success with this – the ones who could never imagine not picking a word of the year – spend serious time in prayer seeking God’s word for them and their year, not merely slapping on their own. And those are the ones who see the growth and the depth and the height and the details and the unbridled nature of our God.
In an effort to distinguish myself from the Cave Man of Old – and utterly inspired by one of my friends who does this process faithfully and is met with goose-bump producing results and affirmations throughout the year – I thought I’d try my hand at this.
Sometime back in November, having had so many highs (family trips, Mission Emanuel in the Dominican Republic, and more) and yet so. many. Death By A Thousand Cuts experiences in 2015, I clearly heard God say that 2016 was supposed a year of Magical Joy (specifically in our home). Wow! What a gift of a thought! Yes! Sign me up!
And even better, he just *gave* me that word … I hadn’t even asked for it yet! Yes, okay, it was two words, but I thought that was supposed to be my word for 2016. I decided to confirm in prayer, and sure enough about a month later, pretty close to Christmas, He gave me another pair of words: Speak Life. Wow. Just wow. And another yes. Sign me up. I knew immediately what circumstances in my world He meant when He said that. Yes, Lord. Thank You, Lord.
But wait: was I supposed to replace ‘Magical Joy’ with ‘Speak Life’? No. I had 100% clarity that I was supposed to keep both, which made me wonder: in my advanced math classes that I took while dragging. my. feet., I had learned some funky math – the kind where There Are No Numbers and instead you’re in some Alternate Universe wherein the numbers have been completely replaced by letters and symbols, which have clearly been pillaged from the English and Art Departments – but I had never encountered a scenario where ‘a word,’ as in one word, was equal to the four words He had so clearly given me.
Then it hit me like a cave man’s club: He made me, and the way He made me is that I tend to think in themes. Those were to be my two themes for the year, not my one word.
When will You give me my word for the year, Lord? Do You want me to have one? Should I just focus on the themes? I am so grateful for them.
The nagging in my spirit seemed to say that I would have a word, and I would just have to wait.
Saturday came – just a couple of days ago – and I thought I had figured out my word. But that was just it. I had ‘figured it out,’ which meant it wasn’t His word for me at all.
Sunday came. As I was praying in church, He gave me my word. When He gave it to me, it instantly made sense, instantly opened the world, instantly painted a picture of the coming year that let me know that only He could have come up with such a word for me, only He could be designing a year so beautiful.
The word? UNCHAINED.
There is a joy in my spirit and there are tears in my eyes as I type that word and accept it from Him for the coming year. Yes, Lord. Thank You, Lord.
Unchained by what tethers me to the past in any way other than grateful, nostalgic, holy.
Unchained by the lies of this world.
Unchained by the hindrances either I put in my own way or I allow others to put in my way.
Unchained by my own prior habits or thoughts or actions that have kept me from moving forward to where He wants me to go for His glory.
“For I have come down from Heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” So says Jesus in John 6:38. So say I as I live 2016 UNCHAINED.
May you, too. Cave man or not.