Years ago author Debbie Macomber wrote a book titled One Perfect Word detailing her experiences of choosing one word to focus on for each New Year—a word that could guide her as she reflected on it. Like so many of us I was weary of making New Year’s Resolutions that felt more like chastisements than goals. After all, how many times can we clean out the garage or lose the same eight pounds? So I decided to give the idea of choosing just one word a chance.
That first year my word hit me like a ton of bricks. I was on a walk in my neighborhood in early January. I must have been watching the sidewalk for icy spots because it wasn’t until the second time I passed by a neighbor’s yard that I noticed a leftover Christmas display spelling out the word JOY in three-foot high red letters! Yes, I had almost missed the joy, but at that moment I knew it would be my word for the year. I would focus on all the joy I found around me.
Another year I chose the word LISTEN, or rather it chose me. It seemed everything I read or experienced was reminding me of the importance of listening—to those I love, to the wisdom around me, to the birds and other sounds of nature, and even to my own heart. Simply to listen.
You’ll notice I said the word chose me, and that’s truly the only way this exercise works. You can’t force your word choice. In the years a word did not choose me, I didn’t have a word for that year! Simple as that.
I’ve been given a word for 2021 however, and that word is RESTORE. After the year we have all experienced, we need some restoration. Those who’ve been sick want to restore their health. It may take more than a year to restore my optimism about our country, but I can stop watching the news and focus on whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable…(Phil. 4:8). That should restore my hope.
I surely need to restore my enthusiasm for planning dinners at home by digging out some inspirational cookbooks. I need to replenish my creativity by taking on a new writing project—one that will take me into that writing zone that restores. And I need to restore my passion for ministering to older adults.
As I ponder the word restore, a favorite praise song comes to mind. “Restore to Me,” sung by Zach Williams, beautifully brings to life these words from Psalm 51:10-12: Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. And so RESTORE becomes more than my word for the year. It becomes my prayer. Open your heart and let a word choose you. Happy New Year.