A few years ago, now, Pastor Mike Ashcraft and writer and coach Rachel Olsen wrote a great book, “My One Word.” In that book, Rachel tells of an exercise she does the first day of every semester she teaches at her university in the course she teaches on public speaking. She has each student take a blank piece of paper and tear it into three pieces. After the students have complied, she instructs them to take one of those three pieces and draw a creepy bug on it. Anything they might cringe at if it were crawling up their leg. On the second scrap of paper, she tells them to write the name of some food that they positively hate! Some food that gags them to even think about eating. And on the third scrap of paper, they are to write the term they call the mother figure in their lives. Could be a nickname, or some derivation of ‘mother.’ Most students, she said, simply write ‘M-o-m.’
Then, she has her students stand next to their desks, and place the picture they drew of the creepy creature on the floor and stomp on it. Lots of giggles and laughs, as the students step on the bugs they have drawn. Next, she has them repeat the process, this time with second piece of paper, the one with the ‘yucky’ things they hate to eat. Again, the students obediently and even with great glee stomp on that food they hate.
But then, something interesting. When she tells the students to now place the third piece of paper on the floor — the one with the name they use when referring to their mother-figure — there is silence in the room. No one can force themselves to step on that piece of paper. In fact, Rachel reports that in all her years of teaching, she’s never had a student step on that third piece of paper, representing the idea of motherhood, and nurture, and love. Why?
The point she is making to her students is that words matter. Words are placeholders for ideas. Words introduce ideas. Words incite action, inspire us to greater possibilities. Words cause us to stop and think.
For the last several years now, since reading “My One Word: Change Your Life With Just One Word,” I’ve picked a word for the year as one that I would focus on. I encourage you to do the same. If you need help with the idea, get the book. I’ve found the practice to be helpful in my journey.
What’s my word for 2019? It is the word, ‘Steadfast.’ Ps. 112:7 says, “He will not be afraid of evil tidings; His heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.” With so much happening in our world, and so much uncertainty, I’m choosing ‘steadfast’ as my word for this year. I’ll remind myself regularly and often as I march through the daze of this coming year that my words are placeholders for the ideas and attitudes I reflect.
Happy New Year, my friends. I’d love to hear from you about your word for this year, should you choose one. You can leave your thoughts in the ‘Comments’ section, if you like. `And may all of us be ‘… steadfast, trusting in the Lord,’ in all the words we choose.