Word of the year plucked out of the ugly

one word 250

Have you heard of One Word 365, or a similar idea? It’s a simple approach to setting your intention for the new year by choosing just one word that embodies an area of growth.

Despite my angst over 2014 goal setting, my one word became clear to me early. It emerged from the swirls of anxiety and fear, patterns trying harder could break for awhile, but never for good.

It went like this: set my will and work ethic to worthy endeavors, fall short, beat myself up for falling short, try again.

Underlying all actions is a motive, right? What was I really hoping to accomplish with the endless striving, the ambition, the goals, the plans?

Among the positive motives is a human one, one that has often been the source of discontent: the desire to be recognized.

Recognition has always been a powerful drug to me. When I obtain it, I want more. When I’m ignored or anonymous, I feel sad, discouraged, worthless. Have you felt it, too?

The desire to be known is real and valid. God, Who knows the human heart so well, reassures us often in His Word that He sees us, He knows us, that we are His.

The desire to be known and significant among people is valid, too. But when that desire becomes a drug, it’s dangerous.

It isolates us. It defers contentment perpetually. It feeds the temptation to compare ourselves. It devalues and degrades us. It’s selfish and suffocating, the thief of joy and gratitude. Left unchecked, it consumes us and hardens into bitterness, envy, and cynicism.

The awareness of this thread underlying otherwise worthy goals made me realize I need to set goals with a different purpose. Less focus on what others see, more on my heart’s transformation.

What’s the opposite of seeking recognition? Stepping aside to give someone else the credit. Doing good anonymously. Listening instead of talking. Being a good follower. In a word: serving.

What that looks like for me:

At work: In my first few jobs out of college, recognition was sparse. Since I’ve had a choice, I’ve been guarded about who I work for, resenting the very idea of working under someone, making sure I control my schedule, asserting my will, working for less money to maintain control.

My work arrangements won’t change much this year, but my attitude will. I’ll approach the people I work under, (yes under,) with a heart of service. I’ll respect and learn from their leadership. I’ll do everything I can to make them shine, worrying less about my own time in the spotlight.

In marriage: I’ve sometimes begrudged household work because it felt less important than earning income. I’ve resented it as lesser work because there’s less applause.

This year, whether it’s housework or paid work, I’ll do it with a heart of service to my family. When guests come, with a heart to bless them and make them comfortable in my home.

In my spiritual life: Instead of deciding what I want to do and asking God to assist, saying yes to what He’s already working in and around me. Approaching Him with a posture of humility and praise, listening more than I ask.

On this blog: Though I’ve always tried to serve readers with this site, I have a renewed commitment this year. Less checking metrics and traffic, more paying attention to what resonates, what will help you most.

So, how can I serve you? And did you pick a word this year? I’d love to know what it is!

17 thoughts on “Word of the year plucked out of the ugly

  1. What a pertinent post! I really like your word for the year, and thank you for sharing your struggle with recognition. You are really great at putting yourself out there and showing vulnerability (a la Brene Brown’s advice), and we, your readers, benefit from it! I don’t have a word for the year – yet. I’ll think on it. Thanks again.

  2. my one word this year is daily. i am trying to focus on different things daily and this week God has made it clear i need to daily make grace my focus, in my goal setting/failures, my parenting, friendships, marriage, ect. i am so encouraged by your blog. i look forward to the emails of new posts. thanks for serving my heart daily!

  3. I’m thinking of a word, BTW very challenged by your goal setting post, the word is energy. One as in passion-an energy and excitement in pursuing something God has designed me to do. Two as in Holy Spirit, the true energy source for everything I do. And three, living and making choices in my day that make my mind and body healthy and energetic…that probly includes more sleep :-). Thank you for you thought provoking and challenging posts.

  4. I too struggle with recognition. I check my stats on my blog way too much. Wanting to be known and recognized is not necessarily a bad thing but it can be when it becomes an idol. I think Serve is a great word and deed to help with this. It takes the thought off of yourself and on to others. I am trying to have this mentality with people I meet at church as well. Instead of focusing on how I want them to care about me, I want THEM to know that I care about them!

  5. Great article Jacey! Very inspiring! A word I’ve been focusing on is, “love,” and
    Scripture directs us, “by love, serve one another.” Godly love and service both require humility,and humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s just thinking of yourself
    less. Thanks for sharing your heart!

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