Last year I began 2015 by choosing a word for the year. Though it was new to me, this practice is common among many Christians; the word is often referred to as an “Epiphany” or “Star” word. Like the star that guided the Wise Men to Bethlehem, the Star word is intended to guide you through the year, helping you to distinguish God’s presence in new ways. In truth, you don’t choose the star word; the star word chooses you, or is given to you, through a process of prayer and contemplation.
As I shared, the word that chose me last year was simplicity. I loved it! I loved the idea of ditching what was unnecessary or excessive, leaving me with the things that matter: the things that call me to God and reveal God’s presence in my life.
Having a star word turned out to be a really good thing for me. I posted it in several places where I would see it, and even had a bracelet engraved with it. I didn’t think of it every day, but there were many days I did. Each time, I’d consider the meaning of simplicity in relation to whatever was going on in my life at the time. I also reflected on it as I set goals, made decisions, and evaluated my progress.
But as the year progressed, I confess that I became a little anxious; I worried I would reach December 31st and my life would not look any more simplified than it did when I was first given the word. I wanted to be able to report that I’d simplified my life in significant ways, believing that would somehow validate this whole Star word process. I could see my perfectionism creeping in on this spiritual practice. Eventually, I came to understand that I wasn’t going to be perfect, nor did I need to be. Indeed, this wasn’t at all about being perfect. Having a Star word is about going deeper in my relationship with God by focusing on a particular word and allowing it to work in and around me. Once I understood that, I could relax and really appreciate the benefits of simplicity.
So I’ve decided to do it again. This year I’m using “Give Me a Word: 2016” by Christine Valters Paintner to guide me in choosing a word. It’s 12 online lessons, each of which takes about 3 – 4 minutes to read. So far, each day’s lesson has offered a new way of praying about and listening for my word. I’m looking forward to seeing which word is given to me, and will report to you once that happens.
If a word chooses you, let us know. We’d love to hear about your Star word for 2016!