Our UNword for 2019

It’s partly the expression of my inner rebel; partly the rewards reaped from such an endeavor. This thing Cyrus and I did last year, having an UNword – a word we were diligent to delete from our vocabulary – well, we’ve found it to be a positive, beneficial, forward moving practice for us each individually and as a family.

Our UNword for 2018 was the word busy. I lost count of how many times I was on the brink of using the word in everyday conversation and had to bite my tongue. Not for the sake of an arbitrary challenge, but in an effort to think more precisely, better understand the motives of my heart, and to communicate more clearly. If you’d like to read more about how we decided on the word busy, click here.

We will continue to be careful in our use of the word busy. And since we valued this challenge so much, we’re at it again for 2019!

So, drumroll please, our UNword for this new year is the word bad.

Yep. Bad.

This short little adjective, we’ve come to recognize, can do a lot of harm to our thought processes, our perspectives, our attitudes, and our relationships.

Our kids are quick to label foods they don’t care for as bad.

We call circumstances bad and color the whole day bad because of a few moments.

We judge others as bad, attempting to remove their speck before we remove our log.

We name ourselves bad, in direct opposition to the names God has given us.

This word, bad, is a dangerous word because it covers a multitude of issues with one vague, imprecise, gray colored brush stroke.

Using the word bad doesn’t help us to get to the real problem, and therefore it prevents us from getting to the real solution!

If I am having a bad day, what else is there to do besides wallow in my circumstances and seek some sort of temporary relief? But what if, instead, I more precisely declare: “Today I was hurt by someone’s untrue and harsh words towards me.” I can do something with that! I can seek restoration in the relationship, or I can pray for that person, or I can bolster myself by renewing my mind with what I know IS true according to our Heavenly Father. Calling a day bad will never bring me to this place.

Bad can be an adjective that leads us to cowardice, apathy, and having an unhealthy victim mentality. It doesn’t acknowledge responsibility. If it’s that thing or person or situation outside of me that is bad, then certainly I have no responsibility toward it.

When I use the word bad, it tends to reveal a heart that elevates myself above the Living God as judge and determiner of value. I see pain as bad, while all along God is using it for my good! Some of my kids view a bedtime as bad, but it is ultimately for their benefit! Throwing around this label of bad onto things and people, skews my perspective and can harm my desire to Aim at Heaven.

I believe that a healthy and God honoring perspective seeks to be honest and to bring all things into the Light. I can do that by being specific rather than vague. Instead of calling things bad:

I will call sin, sin.

I will call hurt, hurt.

I will call pain, pain.

I will call conviction, conviction.

I will call sorrow, sorrow.

I will call injustice, injustice.

I will seek to call all things by their true name so that the truth of God may minister precisely and effectively in my life. I will seek to do the same in the lives of those He has placed before me to minister to. To Him be the glory!

These are a few of the reasons Cyrus and I are choosing to UNword bad for 2019. Truth be told, I’ve already said it a number of times accidentally. This is going to be a much harder word to remove than busy! But, we look forward to how this practice will refine, challenge and teach us this year.

Do you think this is a practice from which you could benefit? We invite you to join us in UNwording bad. Perhaps this has sparked an idea for a different UNword for your year. Ask someone to join you and give it a try! Let me know if you do, and what your UNword is for 2019 if it’s not bad. I’d love to hear from you so that we can encourage one another in this goal!

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Our UN-word For The Year

Two days ago, at our church’s moms group, we were all asked to write down a word for the year that we want to dwell on, remember, or pursue. Two years ago I chose the word LOVE (I know, probably the most cliche word possible, but it reflected some deeply personal growth I was pursuing).

The word I wrote on that pretty little piece of paper yesterday was DELIGHT. Without recognizing it, this was actually my word for 2017, but I never named it as such. So this year it is. I’ll share more about that another time though.

Today I want to share something a little different with you.

You know how there are some people (okay, maybe you and me) who, when asked how they are doing, almost always respond with, ‘I’m so busy!’ or something along those lines? This was the backdrop to my husband’s and my situation several years ago.

Cyrus and I were confronted by someone who was offended. They were hurt because we had not asked them to help out more in a particular ministry Cyrus was overseeing.

And yet, the very reason we didn’t ask was because of the often repeated remarks by this person about how busy they always were.

The incident sent my mind racing about all the implications of using that little word and prompted me to completely re-think my use of the word BUSY – the message it sends to its hearers and the intents it reveals in its speakers. In fact, it is now a word that my husband and I try to avoid like other four-letter words.

BUSY is our un-word for the year, and the rest of our lives.

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Though we can recite a dictionary definition of ‘busy,’ the reality is that it can imply so much more than we realize.

‘Busyness’ can say:

Stay away.

I’m important.

I’m waiting for something better to come along.

I’m actually desperately overwhelmed internally.

I don’t want to get involved with you or your activities.

I am guilty of abusing this word.

I have used ‘busyness’ to avoid tasks I don’t want to do.

I have used ‘busyness’ to avoid relationships I don’t want to invest in.

I have used ‘busyness’ as a measure of my greatness.

I have used ‘busyness’ as a measure of my spirituality.

As I look at this list, I realize that ultimately ‘busyness’ has been a way in which I lie to myself and to others about what is really going on in my heart. Ouch. But, I’m certain I am not alone in misusing this word.

I read a book recently called “Between Walden and the Whirlwind” by Jean Fleming. It’s all about ordering our lives in such a way that everything revolves around our Center, around Christ. In one chapter, Fleming addresses this idea of busyness. I love so much about what she had to say, mostly because it was convicting, yet it also spurred me on in my walk with the Lord. She says this:

“The goal of much that is written about life management is to enable us to do more in less time. But is this necessarily a desirable goal? Perhaps we need to get less done, but the right things.”

The Right Things. This is what I want to be doing. I want to schedule my days according to my values and my relationship with the Lord. I want to prioritize what God prioritizes. I want others to see me as ‘available’ – not too busy for them. I never want to say ‘I’m busy’ again.

That doesn’t mean life isn’t full of activity, but that that activity is prayerfully and thoughtfully chosen – yes and no are chosen out of obedience and love toward God. I’m far from perfect at living this way, but it’s still my aim.

Speaking of doing the Right Thing, another great encouragement to me lately has been a podcast by Emily P. Freeman called The Next Right Thing. She gracefully and artistically delves into the process of decision making and using the time, energy, and resources we have received to best serve the Lord. I highly recommend listening!

So that’s it. My un-word for the year.

Do you have a word, attitude, or idea that may need to be ‘un-worded’ in your life? A phrase that runs more toward a lie than the truth? I’d love to hear what God may reveal to you – leave a comment below!

I’ll leave you (and me) with this admonition from the Apostle Paul:

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P.S. – Here’s another quote from Jean Fleming that I just had to share: “The emphasis is not learning to pack more into each day, so much as learning to order our day according to God’s will. We must recover our time from wasteful activities, and liberate it for God’s purposes.” I just love this idea of liberating our time for God’s purposes. It rings of freedom and peace and joy to me! These are the very blessings that we experience in living for God’s kingdom rather than our own.

P.S.S. – More than ever, I am persuaded that the only endeavor of true value in this life is Aiming at Heaven – pursing a loving and obedient relationship with our Lord and Savior. It’s my goal for this blog to share with you how God is continuing to teach and transform this life of mine that it might be an encouragement as He teaches and transforms you too! If you would like to receive an email when a new post is published, you can sign up below. It only takes a moment.

Blessings!