word of the year, 2017

- originally published December 16, 2016 -

[a few weeks ago] It was a week that wasn’t my favorite. I’m wording it that way because, in the grand scheme of the world, it wasn’t so bad. Still, I was feeling emotional and defeated, and wanted to run. The sky was bright and sunny when I drove to my favorite running path, left my car parked in a pile of leaves, and started out. I was so pumped. This was going to be the best hour of the whole awful week.

I had completely underestimated how cold it was. Suddenly, I was attempting to run against the wind, face stinging and lungs burning. We are very dramatic here, but it’s true. The winter sun had deceived me. It probably would have been a wise and totally valid choice to turn around and go run inside at the gym, or at least find some warmer gear (I was wearing pretty warm layers already, so I’m not advocating running in extreme conditions in an unhealthy way). But for some reason, I knew I needed to keep going. If I went back to my car, I would probably just drive home and wallow. So I kept running, walked a little, and then ran the rest of the way.

Sometimes, we race out the door in excitement or determination: “Yes, this is it! I’m ready!” And then we hit a wall of wind and it’s “Wait. This is definitely not what I signed up for. What if I made the wrong choice?” I’ve been learning that, most of the time, there isn’t a neon sign giving us another set of choices: “will you keep going, or give up? pick one.” It’s usually a slow, unintentional defeat that enters through distraction or doubt. We suddenly find ourselves deviating from our lane without even meaning to.  (Side note: this is in no way an argument against rest. I think rest is actually a super important element in not giving up [and could – probably will – write a whole other post on that], but intentional rest is different from avoiding a confrontation of circumstances, or brushing discomfort under the rug.)

I’ve heard about people declaring a “word of the year,” and never thought I’d actually do that. I love words and there are so many great ones, so shouldn’t they allll be words of the year?! But I realized that I do have a word for next year, because it’s been on my heart a whole lot recently. When I was running in the cold that day, it made me think about my attitude towards a lot of things in life. About running a long race in a short life.

There is a scripture that is read at lots of weddings, and perhaps has become cliche to many of us. But, as many times as I’ve heard it, I was still surprised to see my word there, nestled inside a very important statement: “…It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

My word for 2017 is: perseverance. What’s yours?