Submit~ My One Word for 2017

Choosing a one word theme for the year, a word to focus on and learn from is not unique to me. Thousands of people have been choosing one word for years now and it is a compelling way to live, a response to New Years resolutions that never seem to stick.

Personally, I have been picking one word to focus on for several years. The impact of choosing one word has been significant in my life. “Intentional”, “deliberate”, and “brave” were fun words to focus on. “Dignity” was not. When “submit” began to surface as a focus for this past year, I was resistant at first. Submit is not a fun word. I’m not sure anyone wants to willingly submit. We like to be in control and we like to know that we’re right. We like to do what we want, when we want, how we want. Or at least I do!

But God had been gently prying my fingers off of my need to control for years and I was even beginning to see the incredible blessing found in living a life of submission. And so, I decided to embrace my one word for 2017 and explore what “submit” would mean in my life.

It hasn’t been easy. I have had to accept the loss of friendships that were important to me, the possibility of never seeing my Mama again, financial stress due to a major renovation project, feeling like a single mom as my husband needed every spare moment to finish the basement project, enduring technical difficulty upon technical difficulty over and over and over again. But with each hurdle, with each challenge, the Lord was lovingly whispering in my ear, “Submit, Becky. Let go. Trust me. My plan is perfect and my love for you is sure.”

We began homeschooling our four kids in the Fall of 2016. In some ways, I tricked myself into homeschooling, believing that it wouldn’t change my life all that much. I wanted to trust God with His plans for my life, but I wasn’t sure I wanted all of those plans to change! The truth is that homeschooling did change my life drastically, but by choosing to trust God, He also did the hard work of changing me. Choosing “submit” as my one word was a response to the change He was working in me.

Was I willing to accept the change in my schedule? Was I okay with letting go of coffee dates with friends? Would I be willing to embrace the focus of teaching my kids and letting go of my desire to write? 

As I answered yes to all of these questions, God in His goodness graciously blessed me immeasurably beyond what I could have imagined. The blessing of having my kids at home, of eating every meal together, of knowing what they were learning and being able to direct their interests, of building memories and relationships, of seeing intentional friendships that built my kids up rather than tearing them down and watching the stress and anxiety that my kids had experienced dissipate was worth EVERY sacrifice I was being asked to make. My time was not as flexible, yet having my kids home revealed a blessing I hadn’t expected- having my oldest home meant that I could go grocery shopping during nap time or if a friend wanted to meet for coffee in the afternoon, I could do that without a preschooler in tow. As I submitted my time to the Lord, I discovered that I had more time. Interesting, right? But this is God’s economy.

When I first started blogging nearly seven years ago, I wrote a blog post at least three times a week. Writing was an integral part of my life and the relationships that I have made through blogging are very dear to me. This has been the hardest area of my life that I have had to submit to my Father’s hands. I went from writing about twenty blog posts a month to an average of two posts a month. I miss writing, but the decrease in posts meant that I was able to focus on finishing the book God had laid on my heart to write. My submission in this area has resulted in accomplishing a goal that was important to me. And so, it has become clear to me that a willingness to submit equals an opportunity for unexpected blessing. Not always in the way we expect and not usually in our timing, but submission opens our eyes to what God is doing, taking our focus from our plans and our way of seeing things. When we begin to see what God’s plan is, we realize that it is way better than our plans could ever be.

When I consider all of the technical issues I have had to deal with this year, it is almost comical. Unable to use my laptop for a week, because Sadie chewed through the cord in her puppy days and it finally stopped working. The remote control for our car no longer working, so the convenience of being able to open the doors by remote is no longer a possibility. Losing power for three days. My Kindle on the fritz. But by far the biggest difficulty has been the SIM card on my phone failing at the worst times and not being able to communicate until it was replaced. This has happened eight times over the course of five months, but we have been unable to replace the phone due to the aforementioned financial strain.

I have been unable to use my phone at the worst possible moments. Like my phone failing during a dear friend’s labor and delivery (I missed 42 texts!). Or when the kids and I were on a road trip. Or the weekend before Ainsley’s ultrasound and doctor’s appointment, so that I was unable to talk to my Mom. While all of this has been difficult for me, the focus on submission has reminded me that God is control and I can trust Him. Even when I am unable to communicate in the way I would like, He is good. When I am reminded to submit, I gain a perspective that allows me to be calm and content through situations that would have previously caused internal strife and external emotional outbursts.

But even with all of these lessons learned, I am still a work in progress. I still have to fight against selfishness and frustration and anger. I’m not always as gracious as I desire to be. I think that’s the point of choosing “one word”. It helps us to see areas in which God wants to refine us and then invites Him to do the work that only he can do.

The verse that God has impressed on my heart this year is from James 4:7- “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” The verse that precedes this one talks about how God gives more grace to the humble. And there it is. When we submit, when we are willing to be humble instead of clinging to our pride, we receive grace. Submit = Blessing.

As I look forward to 2018, a new word is settling on my heart, but I believe I will save that for another blog post. If you are interested in hearing a great podcast about how others choose their one word, listen to this episode from Chatologie hosted by Angie Elkins. Her co-host for this episode, Stacey Thacker, has been a dear friend and mentor of mine for several years now. I had the joy of spending a couple of days with her and my boss at the MOB Society and also dear friend, Brooke McGlothlin, back in October of this year. These women love Jesus with all of their hearts and continue to be an amazing encouragement to me in my own pursuit of Christ. Stacey’s one word for 2018, “steadfast”, is taken from my life verse- 1 Corinthians 15:58. If you listen to the episode, you’ll see why I love her!

Did you pick one word for 2017? How has God used it in your life? How are you preparing your heart for 2018? Have you picked a new word for next year?

I would love to hear your answers! May 2018 be filled with joy and growth for each one of us!