One year, one word
by Jennifer Cohron
Jan 05, 2014 | 1337 views | 0 0 comments | 122 122 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jennifer Cohron
Jennifer Cohron
This week I browsed some of my old columns to gain some perspective on the year that was 2013.

It held quite a few adventures for our little family. We made our first trip to the beach, battled a stomach virus, experienced our first VBS, lost some friends and watched our town get torn down and hauled away.

Considering that I wrote about redecorating twice in 12 months, we also spent an inordinate amount of time focused on our furniture.

Some of that rearranging might have been me acting out a need for change.

I’d like to think of 2013 as a year of personal growth. I accepted some things as “This is who I am” and rejected others as “This is not who I want to be.”

One of my favorite songs these days is Amy Grant’s “Don’t Try So Hard.”

It’s a song for anyone who sets impossible standards and feels guilty after falling a little bit short.

Its theme is grace, which can’t be earned. If it could, we’d have to call it something else.

A lot of good can come from having goals. I don’t think Grant is condoning complacency.

However, I am coming to realize that no amount of planning or willpower can bring about the deep and lasting change many of us seek at this time of year.

I am becoming a different kind of person not because I stuck to some arbitrary promise I made to myself last January but because of a series of circumstances I never could have foreseen.

Life happened, and I responded. I made choices. I adjusted attitudes. I took risks.

I kept putting one foot in front of the other and trusted that I was either on the right path or heading toward it.

Instead of a resolution, I made a love dare last year.

The idea came from the One Word 365 movement, which encourages people to choose one word they will focus on throughout the year in hopes that it will shape them in some way.

I chose love, mostly because it made me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

I didn’t explore the concept as much as I could have. I didn’t journal about it, read books on it or take very many deliberate actions related to the love dare.

So when I started jotting down significant moments from 2013, I was a little surprised at how many of them fit neatly into the category of “love.”

I witnessed and participated in broken relationships being mended.

I spent a lot of time asking questions, many of them spiritual, and was grateful for those who listened in love and tried to help me with my struggles by pointing me again and again to the ultimate source of love.

I met people who personified love by putting the needs of another, even a stranger, above their own.

Which leads me to my one word for 2014 — submit.

I confess that I chose this word somewhat reluctantly. In fact, it’s possible that it chose me.

As 2013 came to a close, the idea of submission kept popping up everywhere — books and blogs I read, radio programs I listen to, a song in our church’s Christmas cantata.

This word has a lot of baggage attached to it, especially for a woman in the church.

Almost instinctually, I recoil at the sound of it because what I hear is “be silent.”

I do not believe submission means to condone abuse, to lose one’s identity or to let someone else do all the thinking in a relationship just because he is a man.

My definition at this point in my study of the word is closer to “I have every right to do this, but I choose to do this other thing instead because I love you.”

That kind of attitude is not exclusive to marriage. No matter what kind of relationship we have with someone, there is a temptation to make it all about us.

The other person exists only to serve our needs, wants, desires and whims.

By embracing submission in all its complexity in the next year, I am declaring that I don’t want to live just for myself anymore.

For anyone who has not made a New Year’s resolution yet or have already failed less than a week into it, I recommend One Word 365.

It’s amazing how many lessons can be gleaned from one little word.