October 13, 2014
My first journal entry in 2004 was a single word: FLOW. Not just written on the page, but etched in bubble letters about 3/4 of an inch tall. The letters are heavily outlined, surrounded by a thin border, and colored in gray.
It took me about ten minutes to draw and color the word “flow.” But it took three weeks to narrow all that was bubbling up in me down to that single word.
I‘d been writing in a journal for years, but here was something I had never done before. Instead of blasting paragraphs on a page to capture my thoughts and insights, recording my steps and set-backs, I decided to meditate on just one word.
I wrote this word FLOW in response to something Jesus said. He said, “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ ” That struck a nerve.
There were times when I felt the living water flowing with ease from my heart. But there were other times, more times, when it felt forced.
Could my life really flow from my heart? The question sent me on a search anchored by the four letters of this one word. If what Jesus said was true, tI’d need a way to pay attention to my heart on a daily basis.
The idea of FLOW drew me forward. It didn’t have the trappings of regret, or the pressure of sweeping promises to change like my resolutions did. It awakened something in me. Not a compulsive desire to change born out of being sick of the way I was, but a desire to live an authentic life that flowed from my relationship with Christ.
I decided looking at and concentrating on the word FLOW would remind me to pay attention to my heart and to God’s flow through it. In the months to come I paid attention and I discovered I could tell the condition of my heart based on what was coming out of it into my life.
Slowly over time with this word FLOW, I learned to reverse that process. Instead of looking at my life and actions to realize the state of my heart, I proactively addressed the condition of my heart. That changed my life.
In looking through the lens of a single chosen word, I found a new approach to personal change and spiritual formation – one that is doable, memorable, effective and sticky. The results have been greater than I expected.
Based on my experience, and that of thousands of members of my church and community, I enourage you to try your own My One Word project.
And if you are a church leader, I encourage you to lead your people through the process as well – help them establish the flow of God’s life in theirs. We’re hosting a free webinar at noon on October 23rd for church leaders on how to do that in your church, small group or Sunday School class.
Join us at the webinar, or help us spread the word by sharing this post with your church’s leaders. Change is possible; but focus is required!