Choosing a word for 2021 (again)

How is it February already?? I’m one month in and I’m choosing another word for 2021.

According to Punxsutawney Phil, we’re having six more weeks of winter. And why not?–2021 has started off with more than a little drama and quite a bit of heartache. Can’t say that I’m surprised or that I believe Phil knows what he’s talking about any more than the average weatherman.

I can’t help thinking of Bill Murry’s classic film Groundhog Day. What would we do if we could have a do-over until we get life right? As many times as we want? What would we change? What would we learn to do?

Maybe I wouldn’t have quit piano or stopped playing my flute when my kids were born. Maybe I’d have exercised more or eaten less sugar. (Or not.) Maybe I wouldn’t have been so snarky, so anxious, so judgmental, so unfriendly (maybe I’d have taken PMS more seriously). Maybe I’d have kept singing so I wouldn’t lose my higher octaves. Maybe I’d have gotten a different degree or taken different jobs. Maybe I’d have avoided less, experimented more, and been less afraid to be true myself. Maybe I’d have savored all the moments instead of the ones I thought were “special.”

Hindsight is 20/20, but true vision is developed.

Here’s what I’m seeing these days.

Choosing a new word

I boldly announced in my January newsletter that my word for 2021 was hope. It sounded quite optimistic and forward-thinking. It only took 4 weeks to decide that hope wasn’t tangible enough to inspire change and stick-to-it-ness in me. My backup word was grace, because by week 2 of 2021, I was realizing how judgmental and impatient I was with others. My husband affirmed this might be a good word for me. Thanks, honey.

Let me say, his input didn’t motivate me to pick it. Although he’s right, I’m moving past that idea for now. Maybe I want to hold on to bitterness. Maybe I’m just mean. Or maybe I’m digging deeper. I like to think it’s the last one.

I’m choosing trust for my new word.

I just got back from a retreat where we explored our all our deep-seeded issues, and I realize I might have a trust problem.

Let me explain. When I feel hopeless, it’s because I don’t trust myself, others, or ultimately, God. When I’m graceless and unforgiving, it’s specifically because I don’t trust myself to succeed or others to support me, or ultimately, for God to guide and protect. When life kicks me in the stomach, a lot of emotions start swirling around. And a lot of lies rear and offer logical but misguided reasons for my discomfort or pain.

I believe trust is at the core. No matter how many memes I post or how much Scripture I read, the truth of the struggle to live here on earth—at this moment in history—is simply that I don’t trust the right things. I don’t trust God enough. Maybe not at all.

Sometimes, I don’t honestly believe God has a handle on things. I don’t believe in our government leaders. I don’t believe in the goodness or sanity of ordinary people. I don’t believe in the righteousness of the church. I don’t believe in my own calling or purpose here. Not all the time, but some times.

If I did, I would act differently. (Our actions and words always betray our theology.)

In 2021, I’m going to recite a verse I’ve known since I was a kid EVERY SINGLE DAY, multiple times, if I need to:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, submit to him, and he will make your path straight.

Proverbs 3:5-6

You’ve probably heard this before. Here’s the convicting part:

  • If I trust the news, trust my twitter feed, trust my friends, trust a politician, I’m leaning on my own understanding
  • If I make decisions based on my understanding and I assume God’s will coincides with my understanding of the world, I won’t submit to God’s will (because I don’t even know it)
  • If my path wanders all over the map, if my theology doesn’t match up with my position, if I assign God’s agenda to culture’s agendas, I will have an awfully crooked path

I’m trudging through snow without boots and wondering why my feet are getting wet and cold.

You know I can’t pass up a good dictionary definition, so here you go—


  1. reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety of a person or thing; confidence
  2. confident expectation of something; hope
  3. confident in the certainty of future payment or goods received
  4. a person on whom or thing on which one relies; (ex.—In God we trust)

Not lying. That’s what uses for their example of trust. In God we trust. Even the dictionary people know that.

So hope isn’t so far off the mark. And grace will come with trust.

Happy New Year again. I’m starting to sort it out. This is a year about trusting the right source, not the source that’s yelling the loudest.

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