My Word for 2019: Relentless
I get started thinking about my word for the coming year sometime in September or October. (You can read all of my.)
Some years, a word (or pair of words) pops into my mind, unbidden. Sometimes, it’s about what I’m searching for. Other times, it’s about what I need to call into my life in order to be who the year will need me to be. Sometimes, it’s all wishful thinking.
This year was something different.
This year, I’ve wandered around, hoping the word would find me. I’ve shied away from anything that smacks of “should.” And I’ve been equally wary of anything that seems too easy. I knew the word would arrive.
Like the moon. Like the cat who settles down by my belly every night to sleep. Like a small paper package on my doorstep: not remarkable, per se, but undecidedly for me. All mine.
So I waited, patiently. And every time I would look for the word, I’d hold myself back. “No, sweetheart. Just wait,” that inner voice would whisper. “It will be here in time.” This is always the best lesson: persistent patience. To always quest, and always be still in the meantime.
Then, I read this, about the brilliant pastor, Eugene Peterson, who recently passed away:
“Eugene Peterson’s son Leif said at the funeral that his dad only had one sermon – that he had everyone fooled for 29 years of pastoral ministry, that for all his books he only had one message.
It was a secret Leif said his dad had let him in on early in life. It was a message that Leif said his dad had whispered in his heart for 50 years, words he had snuck into his room to say over him as he slept as a child:
“God loves you.
God is on your side.
He is coming after you.
He is relentless.”
And I knew:
My word for 2019 is Relentless.
It’s not about being the best or the most. It’s not about a particular outcome or the way things will look. Relentless, for me, is something else. It is free of expectation of accomplishment. This word, as I turn it over in my mind, doesn’t have any sharp edges. It’s more like a river: persistent, moving steadily, without a particular outcome, simply doing what it created itself to do. And this is how I want to be, in my life. Not showy, but ever-present. Resilient in my ability to arrive, again and again, in this moment and to meet that moment as a friend.
Relentless in my quest for climate justice.
Relentless in raising a child who is loved and accepted and exactly himself.
Relentless in imagining a time where we love ourselves fiercely.
Relentless in creating a world with just a little more compassion in it.
In all moments, without exception. I aim to be relentless.
The truth is that I’ve never aimed to be the best. Not the smartest or the fastest or the strongest. I was never at the top of my class. But even as a child, I had a vision of my life. Filled with love, creativity, healing, community, and transformation.
When I was five, I told my mom that I wanted to change the world by helping people feel better. It is an utter privilege to be able to fulfill my own prophecy. Not as the most perfectly-anything. But as my most relentless self.
This is what I’m calling in for 2019.
I’m rising to the challenge. It’s going to be so much fun.
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