The One Word idea has really taken off this year. Ann Voskamp wrote about naming the year, and Alece at Grit and Glory has challenged everyone to choose and live a word this year.

I have been thinking about this for a few weeks. At first, I was stuck in the past, thinking only of the words of recent years.

2008 was a year of panic. Four children, one an infant with heart problems who needed surgery, one an 8-year-old in a wheelchair who needed surgeries and medications. I was exhausted, could barely think, and terrified of making a big mistake in the care of my children. And then, she was gone. Our daughter died. The world didn’t stop, the way I wanted it to, but it did turn upside down.

In 2009 my word was survive. In the midst of grieving for our daughter, our church closed its doors. Friends scattered. I found myself spiraling down, down, down, then broken at the bottom of a dark pit. Then, all I could do was lay there.
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2010 brings to mind metaphors like prune, threshing, fire, destruction. I picture mowing everything down – trees, shrubs, weeds, wheat, and burning it, then plowing up the empty land underneath. Radical amputation. Wrecking ball flattening a house, dump truck carrying away the wreckage.

The faith I had built was deeply-flawed. Unrepairable. I needed a clean start.

God, like a gardener prepares soil before planting, cleared and plowed under the soil of the my soul. The doubts and questions that had torn apart my flawed faith also led me to more sure footing.

These past few years have done a lot of work on me, in me. It was necessary. And the fruit is beginning to emerge. This year, God prompted me to look forward, upward, outward.

He gave me the word “cultivate.” It’s a word of hope. It points not only to the tender new seedling of faith emerging in my heart and a reborn walk with God. God also reminds me to look outside myself, to the relationships around me.

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When your inner self is in pain, in upheaval, your soul risks becoming ingrown. Consumed with self.

Pouring into others is an antidote, both to the dark night of the soul and becoming ingrown. When I look away from my pain and listen to another, pray for another, seek to encourage another, my own darkness lifts, be it ever so slightly.

How do you resist your tendency to grow in?

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Linked to the Faith Barista’s Faith Jam on the New Year. Click here to read more One Word posts.