Written by Mandy Hughes, Care Groups Coordinator at Port City Community Church

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” Isaiah 43:1

It’s time to choose a new word for the new year! This is one of my favorite practices and helps me see what God is doing in my life and how He continues to shape me. Looking back at prior years, I love seeing how the thread of my words weaves together. That’s the cool thing about My One Word: it’s not simply selecting a new word and discarding the old. Instead, previous words prepare us for what lies ahead.

Let’s go back to 2021 – a year filled with changes and challenges for all of us. My One Word, “remain”, helped me to stay courageous. I knew to become and do all that God was calling me to, I needed to remain in Him. John 15:5 was a great encouragement to me. Pairing a verse with your Word can be super helpful and insightful.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

Jesus is the vine, we are the branch, and God is the gardener in this metaphor. I love how Jesus used agriculture to reveal God’s truth to the people. They knew farming; it was their way of life and easy to comprehend. It helps me also! Imagining myself as the branch needing to remain in the vine (Jesus) to receive the necessary nutrients to grow and live is powerful.

A lot goes into caring for a plant to keep it alive and healthy. John 15:1 talks about the pruning work God does in us to help us grow and bear more fruit.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” John 15:1

Pruning can leave a plant looking bare and robbed of its beauty, but it helps the plant become stronger. New branches grow back, producing even more fruit or flowers. Faithful to His Word, God did a lot of pruning in me and specific areas of my life. Some of that pruning was freeing, while other places felt frightening.

My One Word helped me to trust God and stay put, allowing Him to cut back where He saw fit so new life could grow. Remain had me stay in the hard and push through the difficult. But I was tired at the end of that year, weary and exhausted. Yet, through my weariness, I could sense God assuring me of what was to come and to keep going.

To be completely candid, I questioned if I could or was even worthy of doing so. I needed assurance that God wasn’t done with me and that He would continue to help me along the way. Then, one morning while spending time with the Lord, I came across this verse from the book of Isaiah.

“I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, ‘You are my servant’; I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:9-10

God’s precious reminder that He chose me and has not rejected me. There is also a promise in verse 10—the commitment to strengthen me and help me. I knew right there and then that “strengthen” was my Word for 2022.

I will miss my Word for 2022, but as I shared earlier, I know I’m not discarding it for another just because the year is over. So instead, I take it with me. I bring all I’ve learned this year into the next and continue on this journey of becoming.

If you’ve participated in My One Word, have you ever looked back at prior words to help select a new word? Did it help? If so, how?

Are you looking forward to a new word, or are you reluctant to move forward from the one you have?

Heavenly Father, as we enter the new year, help us to keep our eyes on You. Lord, if choosing a word enables us to see Your goodness, lead us to it. May the simplicity of focusing on one thing shape us in mighty ways for Your kingdom and glory. In Your name, we pray, Amen.