Did you know that Oxford Dictionary chooses a word of the year? I was unaware of this tradition until recently when I was driving along with the radio on and the deejay mentioned the word for 2018 was revealed, and as you might have guessed already, it was “toxic.” I started wondering how they got this word and went to http://www.oxforddictionary.com where you can find this out and much more. Apparently, this annual tradition “is a word or expression that is judged to reflect the ethos, mood, or preoccupations of the passing year, and have lasting potential as a term of cultural significance” (https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/word-of-the-year/word-of-the-year-2018). The word ends up expanded and used in various terms to describe many things that were not part of its original intent. I was not shocked when I heard “toxic” was the word. I have even used it more this past few years than in the past.
As I drove along I was wondering about how they chose the word and why. It lead me to think of my annual practice of choosing a word. The last few years I have pondered and prayed about a word to focus us, learn about, and have God expand my definition of it in my life. It has been interesting. My initial years where joy, gratitude, grace, lately I have been lead in the direction of fear, being, and this year was persevere.
As I thought about the Oxford word of the year and my word of the year, I started wondering if I just looked at my life, attitudes, and practices as a whole, would persevere be the word that came up, or would it be something else. What do my thoughts, words, and actions show are my true “word of the year?” What is my true focus? I would love to say it was perseverance in a solid admiral sense of the word. But if I am honest it is more likely stress, getting by, wrestling to trust, frustration with timing. I would not want Oxford to look at my life and words to find a word, for fear that it might come out with something like “toxic.” Who wants that to be their word to describe their year, or their life? I know I do not. It makes me sad that that word rose to the top for our world.
I think about my word again, “persevere- steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.” It is definitely a word I needed to focus on this year. At the beginning of the year I related it to a very challenging situation that I was in. As the year has gone on, I have been realizing how many areas of my life this word relates to, and how it is a practice that I need to choose daily, not just in the outside situation that I cannot control, but in my inward thoughts, and attitudes. In the Greek according to Strong’s Concordance (5281) the word is “hupomoné -properly, remaining under, endurance; steadfastness, especially as God enables the believer to “remain (endure) under” the challenges He allots in life.” This expanding of the word from a Dory attitude, “just keep swimming,” to more of an abiding, and learning how to patiently walk with God, has been quite a journey. There have been so many lessons that have really made me see how small my view of perseverance was, and how short sighted I am. I realize as I thrash about, or grow impatient, that these moments are opportunities to learn to patiently endure, or the old-fashioned word to learn steadfastness, to stay the course, to stay focused, it is a continuing on with joy and hope. I like to learn, conquer, achieve, but this year’s word, and the actions and attitudes of my mind and heart have revealed my need to learn how to intentionally walk this journey marked out for me, to listen to the one who knows me best and loves me most. Persevere has, loudly and obviously, become my word, not just to take me through the hard situation that existed through this whole year, but also to learn how to do life well. As Alan Fadling states in the Unhurried Life, “maturity takes time; it requires unhurried perseverance… Fruitfulness comes in no other way. “