My Word for 2019: Freedom

I chose my word for 2019 back in October when I was listening to the That Sounds Fun Podcast by Annie F. Downs, one of my favorite authors and speakers. She was interviewing Alex Seeley, a pastor in Nashville, who said, “Just because you’re saved doesn’t mean you’re free.” The line stuck with me for days, and I knew that freedom was my word for the coming year.

Picking a word for the year isn’t a Biblical practice, and we are not required to do this, though it seems like every person on Instagram decided to opt in this year. Personally, though I enjoy goal setting, I have found that choosing a word for the year helps me focus on the big picture and keep everything I’m trying to do and the lessons God is trying to teach me under an umbrella of sorts. I already wrote about how my words played out in 2017 and 2018 here and here, and I usually frame my word around a mindset or lifestyle that I know God is calling me to (that’s the spiritual component for me)…but it’s one that I am weak in.

It’s also ironic because I felt the word freedom stirring in my heart before I fully knew what the end of 2018 would bring. I hadn’t committed to the second studio yet, I wasn’t sure what the roadmap for 2019 would be like, and there were a lot of questions. Now, going into this year with some very clear to-dos and even bigger unknowns, I can see how crucial living in freedom is going to be for my life.

When I sat down to compose this post, I decided to research some different definitions of freedom to spark my creativity about how this word could play out in my life this year. On first thought, I would tell you that I chose “freedom” because I want to live with open hands, and I don’t want to be bound by anxiety. I want freedom from the pressure that I must do all things and handle all things with excellence, as if the weight of the world is only mine to carry. More than that, I crave the freedom to enjoy my life without the subtle undertone that I have somehow failed or am not enough to live in a manner that can carry both joy and unrest simultaneously. But after researching, I expanded my reasoning.

Freedom, as defined by Merriam-Webster, has a few different definitions that resonate with me:

The quality or state of being exempt or released, usually from something onerous.

The quality of being frank, open, or outspoken.

Boldness of conception or execution.

But when I first began pouring over the multiple meanings, there was one definition that stood out among the rest: improper familiarity. Improper, meaning “not in accordance with accepted rules or standards”, and familiarity, meaning “the quality of being well known, or relaxed intimacy between people”. If I’m being totally honest with you, I know that freedom pressed on my heart because God is calling me to trust Him so that I can live in freedom, and these two little words articulate that for my life better than I could imagine.

If you know me at all, you know that I am a rule follower to my core, and my relationship with God has been one where I have created a lot of rules that were never intended to be there. Approaching God with freedom means living in the uncomfortable space of improper familiarity, where I break my own standards and trust that relationship with God is not something that everyone else clicks with better than I do. It means believing for a reality that I haven’t quite stepped into, without letting the expectation of defeat hold me back.

As always, I will circle back here at the end of 2019, and I think about that day with anticipation because I know that, while I don’t know what this year will hold, the end will look nothing like the beginning. If you’re struggling to set a goal or intention for your year ahead, I would challenge you to pray on it, think it over, and choose a word that anchors you to the person you want to grow into over the next 365.