Now What? A New Word for a New Year

My word of the year in 2020 was “savor.”

It made sense in January, in my rushed and busy-doing-good life to slow down enough to savor the small, good things of my day. And then March happened and the world shut down. All four of us were sick and we lounged around the house, resting, watching, and reading. As the pandemic progressed and it because clearer that it wasn’t going to end soon, we shifted our expectations. Our world became small and we learned to embrace new rhythms. I learned to savor. I was so grateful for the little blessings.

And now, with 2020 barely in the rear view mirror, I’ve grown weary of this season. The darkness has lasted too long and I am eager for even the smallest pin prick of light. I miss my family. I miss traveling. I miss the carefree version of myself who could meet up with friends at an overpriced coffee shop without a second thought.

I find myself so eager to put all of this behind me, to while still acknowledging the good gifts this season has given me. I don’t want the hardship and suffering of 2020 to have been in vain. God, you have my attention: what do you want me to know? How, then, should I live?

In considering what new word I want to have as a focus for 2021, I acknowledge the hope that things will be better this year but I also want to recognize that circumstances might not change much at all.

I came across a verse in Colossians that I want to clutch to my chest this year:

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” (Col. 2:6-7 NIV)

This year, I continue on to live my life in Him, whether it means I’m still stuck inside, whether I can send the boys back to their neighborhood school, whether I can gather together with others. No matter what the circumstances of 2021 turn out to be, I choose to be rooted, strengthened, and thankful.

Plant yourself

Years ago, my seventeen-year-old self laid down on the packed earth atop a German hillside. Snuggled between two friends for warmth, I looked up at the starry night sky and was overcome with gratitude. It was the summer before my senior year, and I was back at the boarding school for missionary kids after a harrowing year in California. I’d hated every minute of 11th grade while my parents visited churches and raised more support in the states. I was desperately lonely, missing my boarding school friends in the small Bavarian town I had grown to love.

But for now, on that hill, I felt like I was back where I belonged. The camping trip before the school year started felt like a homecoming celebration of sorts. That German soil was the closest thing to a physical home I had, made all the sweeter by the other missionary kids who “got it” and who “got” me. So as I lay there drinking in both the company and the night sky, what I wanted more than anything was to reach my fingertips deep into the earth. I wanted to plant myself right here, to grow my roots in the Black Forest, in this little village, at this school. I wanted to plant my roots so deep that it would be impossible to go anywhere else.

It would take another decade to even begin to understand that I belong to a Person, not a place. That my roots needed to sink deep into Him for any kind of permanence. Since my geographic location was an ever-changing circumstance, God was the only unchanging constant I could count on. And the same is true in 2021: God is steadfast and faithful amidst all the circumstances and uncertainty of this year.

So instead of focusing on one word for this new year, I’m choosing to cling to Colossians 2:6-7: to continue on more deeply rooted, strengthened in faith, and overflowing with thankfulness.

What about you? Do you have a word for the year? Tell me in the comments, I’d love to know!

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*Feature Photo by Neal E. Johnson on Unsplash

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Sarah K. Butterfield is an author, speaker, and ministry leader who has a heart for empowering women to grow in their faith and be intentional with their time. She and her husband and two boys live in San Diego, where she writes about pursuing a deeper relationship with God in the midst of motherhood.

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