Words have a lot of power. So as I sat down to discern my word for 2017, I was ready for something mind-blowing. I was ready for a clear word that would define my year – the parts I know are coming and the parts I don’t. However, that is not what I found. I struggled to even guess what this year will hold (outside of graduating from college and starting seminary in a new part of the country). I read through my favorite books and articles for inspiration. I found nothing. I listened to my favorite songs and poems in hopes of something special. I found nothing. I tried to think about anything but my 2017 word (reverse psychology maybe?). I found nothing. In this process, I realized I had to go deeper. Not depth like my 2015 word, but deeper into who I am and who I am supposed to become through the course of this year. That’s where I found it: soul-stretching. Soul-stretching can come in a variety of places. Faith, friends, old places, new places, physical strength, prayer life, academics. You name it; it can grow in 2017.

And that is why I believe in New Year words. It’s not a “yes I accomplished that” or “no I didn’t.” There is no failure in words. You will grow no matter what. That should be the one and only goal for every year. It’s amazing how easily we all forget that. We forget what we’re working toward as we get caught up in schedules and due dates and accomplishments. I wish I could say that won’t happen, but I know it will. So it’s not about avoiding failure, but rather embracing how we can move forward from it, how we can share our knowledge from it with others, and how we can glorify our Heavenly Father through it. That’s a huge responsibility, but it is a responsibility we are called to chase with everything we have.

So for all of the successes and all of the failures to come, I pray that we grow in 2017. Grow together. Grow in the ways we expect and the ways we never thought possible. Grow in the ways we need and are too scared/hesitant/distracted to name that we need. In 2017, I will graduate from Furman and move to Princeton while investing in friendships, reading books, and serving the most amazing and powerful God. Here is to a soul-stretching year of adventures like these and so many more!

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