By now, you’ve probably all heard about this idea of coming up with a word or “theme” for the year. It’s a big trend. As resolutions have kind of gone by the wayside, they have given way to themes.
Hot take: I think resolutions have gotten a bad rap. It’s not the resolutions fault that we are not any good at keeping our word to even ourselves (much less other people) about following through on something we said we’d do. Resolutions aren’t the enemy. Our resolve is. We don’t have “whatever it takes” to make the changes we want to make. We’re too comfortable. The nail doesn’t hurt that bad.
Anyway, back to themes. I originally heard of this idea from John Eldredge (author of Wild at Heart) on a podcast a few years ago. He and his family have made it a practice that at the end of every year they intentionally take some time and sit with God and ask Him what the theme of the coming year will be.
It’s a wonderful gift. To know ahead of time what the theme of your year will be allows you to have an avenue in which you can look for God. If we are willing to look, God is in our everyday. But to have the foresight to see Him as He takes your everyday and weaves a story around a central theme is a thing of beauty.
As you go throughout your year you can be on the lookout for Him as this theme manifests itself. At the end of the year as you prepare for the next one, you have the opportunity to look back and see where God was working as you reminisce on what has happened. What a great way to see your God’s hand show up again and again.
This is something that I’ve come to make a practice in my life as well. I’ve only been doing it a few years and I’m honestly not great at sitting in the quiet and listening for God’s voice. But I’m trying, and I believe God is honoring my attempts.
Where Are We Now?
A couple years ago (2020), my theme was “health”. I knew this was the theme for my year way before the year began. I didn’t even have to sit down and listen for it. God just gave it to me one day. You know those times when you know that you know that you know? I knew. No one could have known what 2020 had in store for us, but what a blessing to have been prepared ahead of time with a goal to be healthier that year.
The results were great. I lost like 20 pounds and I fully believe it was that better health that got me through my first bout with COVID in November. I’ve since gone backward on a lot of the gains and improvements that I made during that year. No excuses. I know I need to do better.
Then this past year (2021) I thought the theme I had heard was “work”. This one was a lot harder for me to actually hear God’s voice on and figure out. I think mostly because I wasn’t really listening well. I think being quiet and listening to God was one of those places that I just really struggled with at the end of 2020. I did add on some additional work in the form of freelancing and I spent more time than I have in the past working around the house and things of that nature. But I don’t think I ever really embraced the “work” theme.
So as I got to the end of 2021 and started to ask what my theme for 2022 would be, I really thought what I would hear would be some combination of “health” and “work”. After all, I had let my health go and I never really took on the mantel of work. That’s what I was expecting.
That’s not what I heard.
When I asked the Lord what word or theme He had for me in 2022, the word I heard was “trust”.
More specifically, I heard “Trust me that I know what I’m doing.”
I’m at once surprised by not hearing the word(s) I thought I would hear and a little terrified by what that could mean. I can tell you that I would rather have heard “You will build a giant barn. And you will do it all by hand.” then to hear what I heard.
What makes it even more terrifying is that when Heather and I shared with each other what our themes were, we had exactly the same word. This never happens. Like never.
I feel a little like Pippin in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. The final battle is coming his way. He can see it far off in the distance. Pouring out his heart to Gandalf, Pippin says:
“I don’t want to be in a battle. But waiting on the edge of one I can’t escape is even worse.”
What’s wild is that I really have no reason to be frightened. Sure, there is this large unknown in front of me and I’m filled with this sense of “Oh no! What’s going to happen this year that I need to trust God that He knows what He’s doing?!?!”
But why does it have to be a big thing, right? There are things happening even today that I have to trust that God is in. That He knows what He’s doing in making these changes He’s making.
It’s only the unknown that we find fearful. I know that God doesn’t intend for His words to cause fear in my heart. That’s the enemy and the byproduct of my own mind. God doesn’t lead with fear. He’s proved Himself to be loving and compassionate and caring more times than I can count. I should (and can) be expectant for what’s to come!
So while I’m headed into the year with a little bit of trepidation, I know that God works for my good. Even though I don’t know what’s coming, I can trust that He knows, and He’ll have us ready for whatever comes our way.
Your Own Theme
What about you? What’s your theme for 2022?
If you don’t know yet, it’s not too late. Find some quiet space to sit down and reflect. Maybe grab your favorite journal and pen, and a cup of whatever you like to drink. Just spend some time with the Lord and ask questions like:
- “What does the coming year look like?”
- “What’s the theme of my year?”
Then just listen and see what He says. Process it in whatever way makes the most sense and works for you. I actually write (like I’m writing this post) because it slows me down and I hear from God more clearly when I do. But that might not work for you. However you process it, make sure you write the word or theme down somewhere so that you won’t forget it like I have so many times. Now you’ve got something to come back to again and again to watch how God is working in, around, and through you for His glory, our joy, and the worlds good.