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  • Writer's pictureBeth Hildebrand

To Choose A Word Of The Year Or Not?


In January I often see on blog posts and social media, even on jewelry specially ordered so it’s a daily reminder, someone’s personal “word of the year”.  I’ve picked a “word for the year” at the start of 2013 and 2014.  But the past couple of years it’s just not been there for me. For some reason I just couldn’t figure out what “my word” was.  As this year draws to a close I realized I did have a word of 2016, but didn’t figure that out until recently.

So, maybe from now on I’ll choose my word-of-the-year at the end of the year not the beginning of it.  Although it’s good to be intentional about living out goals, it’s also not so bad to hold your hands out loosely and keep your eye open to the word, or the lesson, God is naming for you in the months ahead.  There’s nothing wrong with setting a word-goal – I have as I mentioned – but for at least this year, I’m seeing how God didn’t “tell me a word” at the beginning of the year, but waited until later to show me.

And how ironic.  I had to wait for my word, and lo and behold, my 2016 word was WAIT.  This must be one of my “life” words because I even did a 31-Day series about “waiting and seeing” a few years ago.  But that’s what I’ve been doing this past year.

Waiting for a job opportunity – although I’ve been trying to find one but all fall through. Waited for dad’s passing – knowing it was soon but not exactly when. Waiting with anxiety until the election was over – and still waiting for the anxiety to go away when thinking about the condition of our county. Waiting for God’s direction in my life. Waiting for God to fill me (again) – because I feel like I’ve been running on empty.

Did you carry the weight of waiting in 2016? Not necessarily the crazy waiting we especially experienced this past month like long lines in stores, long lines in traffic, long lines on your note paper filled with holiday “to-do’s”.  But a wait that is uncomfortable and questionable.  The kind that wears you out or wears you down.

Waiting for an answered prayer, your child’s behavior to improve, to be healed, or for direction.

What I’ve been learning – or even more, what I’ve been tested – is my trust.  We’re given times, seasons, or chapters in life where we must trust others – whether it be a parent, friend, co-worker or spouse.  Or God.  And God.

While I’ve currently been feeling like I’m in this “waiting season”, this little and unexpected acrostic fell gently like a snowflake on the palm of my hand.

Waiting – Always – Includes – Trusting.

I’m learning that while waiting, I (we) must be trusting God.  While we wait we must trust that God is preparing us for something new.  We must trust His timing – which is difficult because we live in a culture that demands quick and fast. Now!  Where patience is a lost art.

This past Advent season, our pastor talked about waiting as we wait for Immanuel.  What stood out to me was when he said that waiting for answers to questions or prayers can feel deferred or delayed.  But know.  Know.  Know that they’ll never be declined.  He is listening or preparing and we must trust Him.


Generation after generation waited for a promised Savior, so my personal waiting times are nothing compared to theirs.  There were so many people before Jesus arrived who had to endure a waiting period – and ones for us to learn from in the Bible.

  1. A forty-day journey became delayed 40 years

  2. Abraham and Sarah’s promise of a child delayed for several decades.

  3. Job waiting to be released from temptations, sickness, loss, grief and downright torture. He felt that restoration was delayed for…ever?

  4. Paul’s many months waiting in prisons until he was released.

That’s just a few examples.  They trusted God’s sovereignty and so must I. And so must you.  This question came to my mind:

While I wait, with whom and what am I putting my trust?

I’ll ask that again:

While you wait, with whom and what are you putting your trust?

The weather forecaster? A politician? The bank account?  A job-matcher?  A match-maker?

Or have you put your trust in Jesus?  In the Word to guide you?  In the Holy Spirit to fill your cup, even though it feels like small drips going in one at a time?  Have you put your trust in God’s plan, God’s sovereignty, even things unseen?

Woven in that trust there’s also got to be hope.  Hope to see, or to know, the outcome. When I’ve thought about it, waiting always has some kind of outcome.  Whether a purchase is finally made at the cash register after waiting in a long line, or a specific prayer has been clearly answered (whether you like the answer or not), there is an outcome.  And sometimes the wait will go on for years, and you might not see the outcome until you fly to heaven, but by then there will be no more waiting – the absolute best outcome!

W.A.I.T.  Waiting always includes trusting.  Trusting Immanuel.  Trusting He’ll come again.  I’ve continued to learn in 2016 that inevitably, WAIT will be a “year word” every year because that’s part of this human life as we wait for Jesus’ return.  It’s whether or not I’ll truly W.A.I.T.  – wait with impatience, irritability and frustration or wait with hope and trust in the Lord.

May 2017 be another different year because every year holds different and new joys, challenges, and opportunities.  May you make time to be still and not as rushed.  May you choose to not let go of hope, love, the cross, and trust in the Giver of life and new year.

If you sit and reflect as 2016 comes to an end and 2017 is knocking on the door, what was your word of the year.  Or, is there a 2017 Word you’re choosing to strive to live by this upcoming year?  I’d love for you to share and let me know!

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