Why You Should Choose a Word of the Month
I wanted to live more lightly, to hold things more loosely, to experience the highs and the lows with joy. Lighthearted seemed to me a Christlike virtue that so many people I admire possessed. So after prayer and deliberation, I chose it as my word.
Little did I know how much lightheartedness would be necessary to make it through one of the hardest years of many of our lives. To hold control, plans, freedom, and worry lightly is a tall order. Thankfully, I didn’t just write down the word and move on: I set a plan to make it happen.
Enter the “Word of the Month” challenge. Call it a “Virtue of the Month” challenge if that works for you. Each month of 2020, I’ve chosen a virtue to focus on to bring me closer to my ultimate goal of lightheartedness. This was not my idea. Benjamin Franklin famously did this. So have many great holy men and women. If we want to attain something, we need to create a plan to move towards it with intention. And so, here we go!
In January, I pursued peace (and I blogged about it… pretty decently every month until July!) I thought January was wild… but the month and the focus on peace helped ground me in the wildness of a new year.
February was the month of obedience. I can be a bit rebellious, and I wanted to grow in respect for the people around me who often give me suggestions for how I can be a bit better. I should appreciate these wise words, but I often push them off in favor of what I’d rather be doing. So February challenged my muscles of obedience. Have you ever seen Jim Carrey’s “Yes Man”? It was basically like that, except I had to do everything my spiritual director, boss, Girls on the Run coaches and other leaders in my life told me to do. Humility tagged along with this virtue, that’s for sure.
In March, I focused on fortitude. Who knew how important fortitude would become? From the beginning of the month, through the early restrictions, into the tense weeks of strict lockdown and uncertainty – having fortitude, or perseverence and courage, was absolutely necessary. I lived it in practice by always sprinting the last hill of my run (pretty torturous), finishing my rosary before falling asleep, keeping my room sparkly clean, and not logging off of work without ensuring that I had completed everything and was prepared for the next day. It was a good one.
April, May, June, and July blended into one another, so they all shared one blog post. April was about Surrender, May was Order, June was Honesty, and July was completion. You can read about that right here!
August was Trust (I prayed the Litany of Trust every day).
September was Silence (I went on a silent retreat in October, so I got close to this one).
October was Apply – I’m working on graduate school exams and needed to “apply myself” and work on actually applying.
And now we’re here, in November. Eleven months into this experiment and I think I’m a little more lighthearted? (At least, as lighthearted as possible given the circumstances!) In these final two months of the year, I have two more words: Gratitude and Celebrate.
This November, I’m committing to sending a text to one friend each day to tell them how much they mean to me and how grateful I am for them. In December, I want to celebrate more – the big and little things, the joys and the learnings, the fact that we’ve almost made it through this crazy year.
I’m going to do it all again in 2021 – I’ve started asking God what He wants my word for 2021 to be, and I’m excited to see how He’ll challenge me to grow closer to Him.
And speaking of challenge, here’s yours: Choose a word of the month for November (or December, or January, or whenever you’re reading this!) Ask God how He wants you to grow and say yes to the challenge.
Then, comment below and let me know what it is! I’m cheering you on.
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Jane Kennedy lives in Washington, DC. She is a graduate of UC Santa Barbara and works in criminal justice reform. When she’s not working or writing, she’s probably catching up with friends on FaceTime, getting lost in Rock Creek Park, quoting C.S. Lewis, or trying to recreate Salt and Straw ice cream at home.