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  • Writer's pictureGrace Episcopal Church

My One-Word Resolution

By Cheryl Arnold

How many of you have made New Year’s resolutions and then failed to keep them? I think most of us can look back on resolutions we have made that faded away in a few days, weeks, or perhaps months. About ten years ago, a pastor named Mike Ashcraft recognized this in his own life as well as in his church. He wanted to help the members of his congregation make changes and grow in their walk with God, so together with teacher and personal coach Rachel Olsen, he came up with a different kind of resolution—a one-word resolution. His idea was simple: “Lose the long list of changes you want to make this year and instead pick one word that represents what you most hope God will do in or through you in the year ahead. This process forces clarity and results in focus.”

He published a book called My One Word and created a website ( with video messages, blog posts, resources, suggested words, a “share your word” link, and more. Numerous churches and individuals quickly joined the one-word campaign, and friends of mine who heard about it began posting their words for the year on social media. I was interested in seeing their words and hearing their stories, but I wasn’t ready to join the one-word gang, at least not yet. How could I choose just one word and keep that word for an entire year? A year is a long time. What if I got tired of the word and wanted to be done with it and move on to a new word after a few months? I knew that the authors strongly discourage this and recommend keeping your word for the entire year, pointing out that there are no shortcuts to deep, lasting transformation. I was interested but decided I would simply enjoy watching some of my friends choose their words and share their journeys.

Several years after I first heard about My One Word, I was walking through a season in which I found myself experiencing God’s grace in new and deeper ways. I decided to make grace my word for the year and asked myself: How could I grow even more in my understanding of God’s grace to me? How could I share the story of God’s grace with others? How could I learn to extend more grace to myself when I make mistakes and fail? My one word—grace—had such an impact on me that I had it tattooed on my wrist on Holy Saturday that year as a permanent reminder of God’s grace to me. Since then, my words have included courage, joy, and grateful, and God has used each word to shape me and change me during my spiritual journey. I have already chosen my word for 2022--light. One Bible dictionary says light is used throughout Scripture to symbolize God, faith, and holiness. It adds that as Christians, we are called to not only walk in the light but to be the light for others. I have already begun exploring the theme of light and am excited to see how God will use this word in my life during the next year.

Will you choose a word for 2022? How would you like to see God use this word in your life? What will you do to keep focused on your word?

I have seen a number of creative ideas for remaining focused on your one word and have used several of these with my words. You can:

  • Find Bible verses that relate to your word, write them out, put them in a prominent spot, and memorize them.

  • Buy or create a notebook with your word on it and use it to journal your progress and prayers.

  • Buy letters to spell out your word or a small plaque with your word on it and put it somewhere where you will see it often.

  • Buy or make a piece of personalized jewelry or clothing with your word on it.

  • Create a vision board or decorate a bulletin board with pictures and quotes about your word. Create a Pinterest board that includes pictures, quotes, and links to articles about your word.

Prayerfully adopting a word for the year has transformed many lives, including my own.

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