For the past decade, each New Year’s Day, I’ve been choosing a special word for the upcoming year. Many folks do this, do you?
I like to sticky-note it to my work space just above my computer so I’ll see it every day. I’ve found my word to be very helpful in keeping me motivated toward spiritual growth and focused on the Lord’s manna provision in the desert places of my life as the year progresses (and they inevitably do for all of us).
For 2023, I’ve chosen “lean.” Not lean as in less-fatty meat (although maybe I could button my pants by Easter if I went with this definition), but lean as in my well worn thesaurus’s offerings of:
- place hope in
- trust wholeheartedly
- choose to be optimistic
Then there’s my own Debbie definition: Leaning is bracing your weary self against something stronger; something that will securely hold you up and keep you from falling flat on your face (again).
That supportive, immovable, sturdy-as-Mt. Rushmore something … at least in my case … is Papa God.
But you wanna know what REALLY motivated me to consider lean as my word for the upcoming year?
A few weeks ago, I was watching one of my fave Christmas movies like I do every single December. (It’s not really about Christmas but I lump it in with my Christmas movies because it takes place between Christmas and New Years.) It’s the old Sandra Bullock flick, “While You Were Sleeping.” Know it? (It’s amazing how many of my BFFs adore it … right, Sandi D?)
Okay, so the plot goes something like this: setting is Chicago. Timid wallflower working girl saves the life of her secret crush when he’s pushed onto the “El” train tracks while being mugged on Christmas day. In the confusion afterward (he’s in a coma), she’s mistaken for his fiancé, and is warmly welcomed into his big, loving family – something she hasn’t had for a very long time (no sibs and her parents are deceased).
Throughout the course of the following week (before her crush wakes up from his coma on New Year’s Day), a series of hilarious events bombard her so that she just can’t ‘fess up to the truth (she’s never even spoken to her alleged fiancé) and she somehow manages to fall in love with his brother.
So there’s this one scene between Girl and Crush’s brother when they both realize their chemistry is crackling. Hey – that’s when I knew what my word of the new year would be.
In a snowy nighttime courtyard, Brother confesses to Girl that he was bothered by seeing her lean on another man who wasn’t her comatose fiancé (a goofball comic relief character who has been hitting on Girl forever and finally gets a pity-induced brotherly hug from her).
“Lean?” she replies, puzzled. “What do you mean by lean?”
Brother explains that leaning is a lot different than hugging. Hugging is a friendly gesture. Leaning is more intimate and involves beneath-the-surface interaction between the two parties. Even passion. Well, he may have used a few different words (with romantic connotations because, hey – it’s a rom-com!), but the inference that leaning is the next higher-level step toward deepening a relationship was my takeaway.
I know, I know – my inspiration here is not exactly spiritual. But it’s real. I believe Papa God uses all kinds of un-overtly spiritual stuff in our everyday to point to wise spiritual guidance we can find right there in our Bibles.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV).
Yep, my motivation source for my word of the year is kinda like when I tell people Spouse and I named our first child Matthew because it means “gift from God.” And that’s true. But the honest-to-goodness truth is, we saw a midnight showing of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” when I was eight months pregnant and we were the only ones in the dark theater. WooHooooo! So when the devious aliens-disguised-as-humans began chasing the main character, his repeated name “Matthew! Matthew! Ma—tth–ew!” echoed against the theater walls and planted itself in my head. As we headed home in the car, discussing possible baby names, I said, “So what do you think about the name Matthew? I can’t seem to get it out of my brain.”
Okay, girlfriend – whatever your motivation, your community of BFFs would love to hear your word for 2023 (if you have one). It doesn’t have to be as earthshaking as LEAN (ha!), but please do share it with us so we can support one another.
Hugs and prayers for a Happy New Year,
P.S. Papa God just sent me the sweetest grace note (what I call little touches from His hand that prove He’s there, He’s aware, and He cares) – just after I finished writing the above blog about leaning, I rushed to a church breakfast where to my delight, we sang the good ole hymn, “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms” – what are the odds? This wonderful hymn still says it best; who remembers it? 3rd verse (my fave):
- What have I to dread, what have it to fear, leaning on the everlasting arms?
- I have blessed peace with my Lord so near, leaning on the everlasting arms.
- Leaning on Jesus, leaning on Jesus [I’m an alto and we sing it this way], safe and secure from all alarms;
- Leaning on Jesus, leaning on Jesus, leaning on the everlasting arms.