What’s Your Word

Posted on December 19, 2013

As long as I can remember I’ve had a deep admiration for words. It’s why I became a writer. I like the way words are able to trigger a range of emotions. The right words can uplift. They can inspire and give hope. In other cases–the not-so-good cases, words can be used to assault in a form of emotional terrorism.

We’ve all been taught to choose our words carefully, giving credence to their power. It is with the careful selection of our words that we express: love; anger; hurt; forgiveness; praise; criticism; music; poetry; stories and secrets. Words are–at best–the conduit through which the motivations of our hearts are revealed. The bible explicitly says that our words can give life or cause death. This is, of course, metaphorical.What it means is that the words we choose can fill the atmosphere with positive energy. An energy that invigorates. Or, our words can fill the atmosphere with negative energy. An energy that vaporizes and drains the soul. Knowing this, I’ve always tried to be mindful of the words I use.

When I was going through my separation and divorce, I escaped reality by reading and watching movies. That year, Elizabeth Gilbert’s New York Times‘s bestselling memoir, Eat Pray Love, was made into a film. The movie, much like the book, was filled with beautiful metaphors, salacious stories of losing love, traveling the world, eating good food (amen) and finding yourself. I wanted to be about that life, so I watched it more times than I’d like to admit.

“Ruin is a gift.”

My favorite scene is when Gilbert (played by the stunning Julia Roberts) asks her Italian friends Sophie and Giovanni what the word for Italy is. She explained that every place had a word that could describe its culture. Continuing, she suggested the word for America would be, “work” because America is known for being the land of opportunity. The three sat contemplating Italy’s word. In unison they resounded, sesso because Italy is, by far, the world’s sexiest country.

I thought about the idea of a word being used to describe the culture of something. Looking at the pattern of my life it seemed my circumstances had dictated which words surrounded me. Abandonment, abuse, betrayal and deception all hung like banners over every passing year. After my one millionth viewing of Eat, Pray, Love (better known as the movie that kept me sane during my darkest hour) I decided I would pick which words guided my life. From that moment I would determine what my word for each year would be.

I declared 2012 the year of “greater”. I was newly single after a damaging marriage and I knew I deserved more for my life. Greater felt like the perfect theme to enter a new year and season. But, if we’re being honest here (because honesty is encouraged), I fell short of living up to the greater I had in mind. I let fear and brokenness dictate my thoughts and actions. By the end of the year I was a wrecking ball of emotions. On the surface, 2012 looked less than great. Yet, it took bringing my suppressed issues to light in order for me to see God work greater in my life. I wasn’t greater, God was.

“…Bestow on them a crown of beauty.”

I entered 2013 a little less passionate about giving the year a word, but just two weeks shy of 2014 I can say that the word for this year has been beautiful. I know it’s a loaded term, one that has been bastardized by our vain culture. That’s not the beautiful I’m referencing. In the book of Isaiah, God makes a promise through the prophet Isaiah. He says that in the year of the Lord’s favor He will give beauty for ashes. 2013 has been a year of God’s favor. I’ve watched him redeem areas of my life that I couldn’t conceive as redeemable. Most of all I watched Him miraculously heal my heart. I never knew what wholeness was until God allowed me to experience the depth of my brokenness. I’ve never felt more fulfilled, more content, more grateful or more beautiful.

“What if God takes broken things and makes them beautiful?”

As we quickly approach a new year I’ve spent time thinking about what my word will be for 2014. I wanted it to be a word that would guide my decisions, charge me to live up to God’s expectations and prepare me to see Him in a new way. The other day, while pondering 2014’s word, I remembered how I spent much of my pre-teens reading books on the Black Panther movement. I laughed at the protest I started at my high school, which almost resulted in my expulsion. I recalled the fiery passion I once had for justice. And then my word came to me–radical. At this moment I’m not sure how it’s going to manifest itself in the forthcoming year. But I’m hoping to have radical faith, pursue radical justice and give radical love.

Life: the days, the weeks, the months and years, don’t always go the way we plan. It wouldn’t be fun if it did. But, as image-bearers of God we have the power in our words to call ourselves into being–even if that being is a little bit radical.

Now it’s your turn:

What’s your word for 2014? Tell me in the comments section below.

12 Replies to "What's Your Word"

  • Erinn Dumas
    December 19, 2013 (11:12 am)

    Great post! My word for 2014 is design. As I pursue God’s passion for my life – fashion design, I am realizing that everything that has happened in my life, especially this past year, is by His design. 2013 has been a trying year, but it has brought me closer to God and the closer I have gotten to Him, the more I understand His vision for my life.

    • Shakirah Adianna
      December 19, 2013 (12:40 pm)

      Hi Erinn!

      Thank you for reading. Wow! What a powerful word. I really like that. I’m so glad that through the trial you’ve been able to see things come together. I look forward to witnessing God design something really remarkable both of you and for you.

  • Nakia
    December 20, 2013 (8:26 pm)

    This was really good. My word for 2014 is Performance. Luke 1:45 And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord. I am believing God to perform many of His promises in this new year.

    • Shakirah Adianna
      December 22, 2013 (8:13 pm)

      Hi Nakia!

      Thank you for reading. I like your word. And how fitting that you ended 2013 with an amazing performance in service today. I can’t wait to see how God performs in your life. You know that God of ours is so good at showing off!

  • SM.
    December 23, 2013 (9:28 am)

    This is good! Thank you so much for the prompting to consider our word/theme/motivation/encouragement/guide in this upcoming year. My word for 2014 is “character”. As I walk into this new season of motherhood and as I continue to strive being the disciple and wife God has called me to be, I desire to increasingly be the woman of noble character laid out in Proverbs 31; I pray to be filled with the Fruits of the spirit in Galatians; and seek to be the woman of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious to God.

    • Shakirah Adianna
      December 23, 2013 (9:38 am)

      Hi SM!

      Thank you for reading and commenting (as always). Very grateful for your readership. Character is such a great word to hold as a banner over a new year. So much opportunity to see God move in our lives becomes available when we’re walking with the right character. Have a Merry Christmas! Looking forward to walking with you into mommyhood 🙂

  • A Diva State of Mind
    December 23, 2013 (4:57 pm)

    I never thought to think about a year in terms of a word. While reading “I recalled the fiery passion I once had for justice…” the word passion (or passionate) came to mind. For just about the entire year, I have prayed about having a career that equates to my passion for fashion. I’m very passionate about charity, so I began working on an idea I pray manifests into something succesful in 2014. And I’m passionate about continuing to grow a stronger relationship with God. I know I’m closer than I was before but I also acknowledge that I have ways to go. In all, I want to be passionate about all of the things I do and the people I allow in my life in 2014. (I hope that makes sense!)

    Thanks for this post! This is great 🙂

    • Shakirah Adianna
      December 23, 2013 (5:03 pm)

      Hi Keri!

      Thank you for reading and commenting. Passion is such a great word for holding fast to your dreams. It’s easy to have the dream, but it is the passion that acts as a catalyst. I’m looking forward to watching your passion ignite your dream of pursuing a career in philanthropy and style.

      Merry Christmas!

  • Sami
    December 26, 2013 (10:54 am)

    What a beautiful post!! 🙂 My word for 2014 will be “Faith”. There have been a lot of changes in my life, and I know there will be some big changes in 2014, and I want to remember that no matter what happens – successes and failures, that I never lose Faith in God and what he has planned for me :).

    • Shakirah Adianna
      December 26, 2013 (7:26 pm)

      Hi Sami!

      Thank you for reading. Faith is such an awesome word for 2014! Yes, faith and hope will be the anchor for your soul as you boldly face whatever life brings you. Here’s to clinging to the goodness of God! Cheers.

  • D
    December 30, 2013 (9:36 am)

    HI Adianna,

    As always, this post was wonderfully written. You have such a way with words! Very admirable. I was actually a nervous wreck about 2013 – the word I gave the entire year, if you can remember, was TRANSITIONS. I already spoke, what I thought, would be a terrible vendetta between me and 365 days that awaited my arrival. Thing is, not all transitions are bad. If anything, God was using various transitions in my life to transform me into the woman that He has destined me to be. It’s quite comical actually – before I was spiritually sound – I was actually frightened for 2013 and the transitions that were ahead. Little did I know, transitions lead to transformation and change it not a bad thing! Though I am not sure I am that woman that he wants me to be quite yet, I am working towards it. Working to be spiritually sound at all times, in all events in my life. I understand now, 365 days later, that life is a process towards progress. Heading into 2014, I haven’t quite found a word to describe, but more so a phrase. ‘Be Easy’. You know me well… and I think it’s quite fitting especially from the year I just came out of. I plan just to take each day by day and to marvel is God’s greatness, not try to plan and control every little aspect of my life -you know, just be easy.


    • Shakirah Adianna
      December 30, 2013 (9:46 am)

      Hi Danielle!

      Thank you for reading and your compliment. It’s greatly appreciated. I do remember your word for 2013 being transition. I agree that transitioning is a great thing. If done properly we can either transition aligning ourselves with God’s plan for our lives. I like your phrase for 2014. I’ve tried to make that my life’s motto. One of the best approaches towards “being easy” is savoring each day–you know–like your favorite piece of cake.

      Happy New Year D!