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Faces on Faith: Try a ‘word of the year’ instead of resolutions

By Staff | Jan 21, 2020

Rev. Alan Kelmereit

Eighty percent! According to U.S. News and World Report, that’s the number of people who have failed in keeping their new year’s resolutions by the middle of February. I’m not the least bit astonished by this, mostly because I recognize myself in these numbers. In fact, as best I can recall, in most years I haven’t been able to remember what my resolutions were by February or March. I no longer make resolutions. It’s an exercise in futility and frustration. So, what’s to be done?

I came across an article recently by Marla Tabaka, a successful small business advisor. Her recommendation, is to choose a “word of the year” instead of resolutions. It should be a word that summarizes the things that are important to us, a word that encompasses what is important, and a word that doesn’t make us feel constantly pressured to be “doing.” Tabaka once chose the word “clarity,” and she reports that Melinda Gates has chosen the word “grace.” Think about the things that are important to you, she advises, and select a word that embodies those things. Then write it, repeat it, post it – whatever it takes to keep it at the forefront of your mind.

Since I read that article, I’ve been searching for a “word of the year.” I’ve been reflecting recently over the twists and turns that my life has taken. Despite being a child of our hyper individualistic culture, I can’t evade the conclusion that I have accomplished virtually nothing by myself. There has been help at every turn, sometimes positive, sometimes negative, sometimes welcome, sometimes not, but always there to move me to a new place.

My primary helper, whether I recognized it or not at the time, has been God. I look back and I see his hand, guiding, directing, arranging for events to steer me toward his place and his work for me. I see how he has worked things out in ways I could never have imagined or have arranged on my own. There have also been family, friends and coworkers who have served as guides and supporters when I needed that, and as cheerleaders and encouragers when I needed that, which I nearly always did.

So, what’s my word? Thankful. Every day I will thank God for all he has done to bring me to this place and this time, and I will offer a prayer of thanksgiving for someone in my past who has helped, and I will say a word of thanks to someone in the present who has guided and supported me. Thanks be to God!

The Rev. Alan Kelmereit is the assisting rector at Saint Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church.