Happy New Year! We made it to 2021!

Staff and residents have returned to our residential homes of Mercy Multiplied, and first on the agenda for our team meeting was praising God for His faithfulness in 2020. (Yes, at Mercy, we had incredible amounts to be thankful for, like all the young women who graduated from our residential homes in 2020). The next line item in the meeting was discussing our words for the year.

I have worked at Mercy Multiplied on the development team for six years, and we have a New Years’ tradition of choosing a word that we believe God is inviting us into for that next year.

My words have ranged from “Wonder,” “Forward,” “The Long Game,” to this year’s word, “Dig In.” Other staff members have chosen words in past years like “Possible,” “Brave,” “Courage,” and “Enough.”

I’ve truly loved this practice as it has become a staple in my New Years’ routine. I wanted to share the process some of us take to choose our word of the year to hopefully encourage you to take a similar journey this New Year.

Picking a Word of the Year

The entire point is to hear from God.

First and foremost, the entire reason for this exercise is to listen to God’s voice. There are many different ways to hear God’s voice! You could sit down with the Bible open and a journal to write in, you could go for a walk with headphones in, you could read through your social media posts to see themes God has spoken to you, or you could set up a prayer time with a trusted friend and help each other navigate this process. The point is to set aside time and hear from God. While you are listening to Him, you may even get a full sentence, a feeling, a sense, a scripture, or planned out action steps instead of a word, and that is INCREDIBLE! Go with that!

A simple way to get this started that I learned from Mercy’s MPower Workshops is to ask God a question like, “God, what do you have for me in 2021” or “Abba, what’s something you would like me to learn in 2021?” or “Father God, show me your heart” and then you LISTEN. Simple as that. Also, trust what you hear is from God; even if you feel silly or awkward at first, go with it! God promises He will be with us and that we can hear his voice (John 10:27).

God Speaks LIFE.

An important reminder I learned from Keys to Freedom is that “When the Lord communicates with us His voice always brings hope, life, and love.” If you hear differently, please reach out to a trusted mentor or professional counselor.

Don’t be surprised if you have to process the past to move forward.

This is actually how I got my word this year. I love workshops. I am such a fast-paced person that I need to set aside time (usually something I pay for, so I actually show up to it) to process. I need that accountability of an hour or two to truly focus on the one topic at hand.

Last week, I attended a one-hour online webinar, “Release and Refresh,” and I took time to process 2020, so I could move into 2021. One activity I loved is we took 30 seconds to draw ourselves in a quick doodle that represented 2020, and then we also did that to represent what we wanted out of 2021. This short activity helped me scan through my memories of 2020 and give them some space to be seen and released into the hands of The Lord. It also gave me excitement to think about what I wanted from 2021 without making to-do lists and action plans.

As Nancy Alcorn writes in Ditch the Baggage, “Getting God’s perspective is a process, and if you don’t keep moving forward, you will fall into fresh new lies that the enemy has for you.” -Nancy Alcorn.

It is okay to change your word!

Lastly, it is totally okay to have this be an ongoing process. Last year, I changed my word mid-January when I felt God laid the word “Listen” on my heart way more so than my previous word I thought He had stated. God operates outside of our natural time, so He may have a new word for you more than once a year. Our best advice, stay in the Word, stay in prayer, and hear from Him!

Staff advice

To encourage you further, here are a few words from other staff members about how they choose their word every year:

“When I pray, I ponder, and I ask God: What’s on Your heart for me in this next year? The past few years, I have written down the questions I ask Him in one color, and when He puts something on my heart, I write it down in a different color.” -Sarah, Treasury Department.

“I spend time in prayer and writing in my journal. I will look through my journal, and I try to see a common theme that I am praying about. I will then search the Bible for verses that line up with what I am praying about. Finding a verse is much easier than finding just one or two words for me.” -Stephanie, Development Team

“I don’t have a process when choosing my word. Mine is more like God just keeps showing me the same verse over and over in different ways. Repetition is how He has to get my attention.” -Karen, Development Team.

“I normally begin seeking the Lord towards the end of the year for an overall theme He is leading me to for the year ahead. Most often, He will give me a sense of where He is leading and then will often confirm various ways, whether it be through songs I’m hearing, the scripture I’m reading, what other people share with me. As they say at MPower Workshop – sometimes I’ll see it everywhere like on road signs” -Lauren, National Director of Philanthropy.

Happy New Year from all of us here at Mercy Multiplied! I pray you have a blessed 2021 and hope these steps and examples helped explain how to pick a word of the year.

Mercy Multiplied is a free-of-charge residential counseling program that helps young women ages 13-32 break free from life-controlling issues and situations. Apply today or learn more by visiting MercyMultiplied.com.

Want more? Listen to our MercyTalk Podcast episode “Looking Ahead” for more practical tips. For daily inspiration, follow us @MercyMultiplied on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!