one word 2014: story


a whole week of the new year swept past me while i was distracted with a wedding, family, and a sick baby :( , but i’ve known my one word for the coming 12 months since the end of november. as usual, it just became clear without much thought. this will only be the third year that i’ve participated with the one word 365 community, but i’ve been pleased–and a little surprised–at how my previous focus words truly became an inspiring guide that didn’t fade (much) over the course of the year.

In 2012, share helped me restore the participatory part of me that withdrew when mom died. and last year’s word, grace, proved to be more useful than i could have known. when i predicted i would need to “adapt to what will surely be a year of rapid changes and unexpected detours,” i was thinking of my newly acquired role of mommy. i had no idea how many unexpected changes i was in for. 

this year, i want to start connecting the detached phases of my life and pick a single word that will steer me toward reflection on the whole.

my one word for 2014 is STORY.

at first i was unsure about choosing a word that is not a verb. a motivating word should imply action, no? but this word was so insistent on being my one word for 2014 that i could not refuse.

we all know that a story is made up of many plot developments, big and small. some seem insignificant, but turn out to be pivotal. some seem monumental, but quickly fade into irrelevance. and some are exactly what they seem. but they are each an irreplaceable part of the narrative. without any one moment or event, the story would be…a different story.

if i can view each day–and whatever it brings–as a part of a greater storyline, i think it will color my response to whatever i encounter. fleeting frustrations can be easily excused when i can see that they are nothing in the grand scheme. small pleasures might be more meaningful if i view them in light of the story they are building. big setbacks will become mere hurdles along the scenic path, and i won’t have to hold so tightly to the glorious good times as they glide further into the past, because they are still an integral part of the whole plot.

as i write all this out, i am realizing that i’ve heard the advice to “look at the big picture” a zillion times before, and this all sounds very derivative. but in my mind, this idea of story is different. even if i can’t quite explain the subtle shift in my brain, i know that this approach is more than just a measure to help me not sweat the small stuff or prioritize the important things in life. it’s about crafting a legacy.

it’s also about more than my personal story–it’s about how the panels on my storyboard intersect with those of my family, friends, and anyone else i interact with. it’s about how my days appear in The Story God has been writing since the beginning of time. right now i need the daily reminder that i’m not just drifting; i want the gentle nudge to be more observant.

my hope is that filtering everything through this lens will challenge me to live my life with purpose and perspective, and make me a better contributor to the narrative. 2014 is the year i think broader, in an effort to affect in each small decision. it’s time to really recognize the story i am living.

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