I first read about choosing one word for the year, instead of a list of resolutions, about March of last year, before I was really writing, or doing anything focused and therapeutic. The idea, I think, was started here: oneword365.com and the site is worth a read, and as they explain the idea of choosing a word is like this:
One word that sums up who you want to be or how you want to live. One word that you can focus on every day, all year long.
It will take intentionality and commitment, but if you let it, your one word will shape not only your year, but also you. It will become the compass that directs your decisions and guides your steps.
After prayerfully considering it (and a brainwave in the shower – that’s the Holy Spirit, right?!) I have chosen “Gently“.
Gentle is a word used in both testaments, usually to describe God in the old testament (eg. in 1Kings 19, God appears to Elijah as a ‘gentle whisper’) and Jesus in the new (eg. Matthew 21, Jesus is ‘gentle and riding on a donkey’). It is also used by Paul and Peter in their letters as an exhortation that it should be a mark of believers, and a way that others both in and outside of the church should know that God is working in them (Eph 4:2, Phil 4:5, Col 3:12, 1Tim 3:3, 6:11, 1Pet 3:4,15). It is something that the Holy Spirit can work in us all if we are willing.
A number of wise people in my life have encouraged me to go gently over the past year. They could see my pattern of ups and downs, peaks and troughs, physically, emotionally and spiritually, could if flattened out lead to more growth, less drama, and a better return to this elusive “normality” that I’ve been longing for. I guess everyone has seasons in their lives, but this is mood swings beyond that. I am probably almost cyclothymic, but I am not in any rush to gain any more labels than I already drag around, and I also think that part of it is personality too. It’s common in addicts of all variety to (think they) have greater highs and worse lows than anyone else, and we become addicted to the drama and the attention that follows.
I do believe I will always cycle but I also think in my ‘toddler years’ of sobriety I can make changes in my behaviour and my thinking that will help me adapt to living sober, and taking an honest look at the part I’ve played, and can take responsibility for altering, is at the heart of that. Like all toddlers, I won’t always get it right, I’ll get distracted by better toys and fun things to do, and when I fall over, sometimes I’ll still think it’s the end of the world, but gently…. gently, I can direct myself back to the better way.
I start the year in a difficult place of immobility, temporarily cut off from not just the world in general but my church, much of the fellowship and friendship and activities that I enjoy, professional links, my counsellor, and an independent sense of self. There is much to be regained but if I don’t learn from my mistakes then I already know what the process will feel like. There could be a great difference in the journey. Toddler steps into the year with no list of resolutions, just one word: Gently.