Theme for the Year

It’s been a while now, but I remember years back hearing Jon Eldredge talk about asking God for a theme for the year. At the end of every year he asks God what his theme for the next year is going to be.

At this point yearly themes weren’t all the rage and everyone and their brother weren’t talking about them. It’s a concept that’s everywhere now. Whether they’re called themes or your “one word”, or whatever. Back then though, it was brand new to me.

So every year since I’ve asked God for a theme, and every year I’ve gotten one. And just like my goals and dreams, every year I’ve let the year take me where it wants to go and I’ve completely abandoned my theme. Most years I don’t even remember what my theme was.

This is the year all of that ends.

This is the year that I follow my theme, I pay attention to where it leads me. This is the year where I keep up with what’s going on in my life, where I pay attention to my theme and integrate it into my life. This is the year I don’t slip and mess it all up.

I’m hesitant to say this, because my past attempts at goal setting and resolutions and even themes have been so bad. I so easily let them slip and instead do what’s easy.

But at some point in your life you have to stop doing what is easy and start doing what is right. I’m 46 years old now. I’m way late on starting to do what’s right. No better time than the present.

My Theme

I got my theme for 2020 back in November. This year I didn’t even really ask for it. It was right before I was going to leave on sabbatical. I had been praying about what the sabbatical was supposed to look like for me and asking God what He wanted me to get out of it. He gave me 3 words for my sabbatical. These were “rest”, “reconnection”, and the establishment of new “rhythms.” Along with that, He said that my theme for 2020 was going to be “health.” He sort of threw that in there. Like a bonus.

So as I headed into my sabbatical, I had a chance to kind of get a head start on what “health” might look like for me in the coming year. I was going to get some rest (which is a healthy thing) but I’d also have some time to sit and pray and think through what other ways God would want me to become healthy.

I’ve since realized that what we’re talking about here is an all-around health that touches every part of my life. So it’s physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, financial, and any other thing you can think of. So you can think of it as 360 degrees of health. My job is to take a look at everything that surrounds me and figure out what “health” looks like in that area of my life, and then work to make it so. Does that make sense?

“Physical” is probably the easiest example. I know that I have a tendency to eat like crap and not exercise at all. I sit for the majority of my day at my job and then sit down at night as well when I watch TV. As a result I am sluggish, do not have much energy, am overweight, and sometimes get out of breath just bending over to tie my shoes or walking up a flight of stairs. What can fix that? Eating the proper foods and moving my body more.

So I took the month of December, while I was on sabbatical, and created a new rhythm of exercise. This is step 1 of many steps to get my body back to physical health. I did at least 30 minutes of exercise every day. It’s becoming a new habit for me. In order for my habit to continue on indefinitely, I need to make it a part of my identity. So I am working this year to make “I am a physically healthy person” a part of who I am, not just something I wish I was.

So physical exercise was step 1. Step 2 is still being decided for this month but it will probably be something to do with how I eat. It could be “I don’t eat after 9pm” or “I don’t drink pop”, or something like that. Something small that builds on “I exercise every day.” You get the idea.

Like I said, this is all-life-encompassing. So I am working on healthy habits for all areas of my life. Having a daily quiet time with God that is a non-negotiable. Paying attention to what I spend and our budget. Determining where we can cut expenses and where we need to increase income. Figuring out how we can do those things. Taking time to learn new things as a way to become more mentally healthy. Just little steps every month to create a more healthy life for me and those around me.

Every day I affect those around me. Whether it’s good or bad is my choice. If I make unhealthy choices it affects them in an unhealthy way. I teach bad habits and choices like they’re okay. So as I become more healthy in all the areas of my life, I will naturally affect those around me in good, healthy ways. What more reason could I need to become healthy?

I’m still working on a great way to keep “health” in the forefront of my mind on a regular basis. Learning how to ask myself “Is that the healthy choice?” for everything. I’m determined to make it happen this year.

What are you determined to do?