Little: A reflection on my 2022 Word for the Year
Have you ever selected a word for the year?
I’m not sure how this trendy practice began, but I think for many it has replaced the more traditional New Year’s resolution. Instead of setting a goal or adopting a lifestyle change for the year, you select a word to reflect upon or one you’d like to guide your priorities and motivate your choices over the coming twelve months.
I first declared a word for my year in 2021 after repeatedly encountering the word Peace while many others were announcing their own word choices. Since God speaks to me in patterns, and I now know He is behind everything I once considered a coincidence, I knew God was inviting me to explore this word with Him.
During the next 12 months God did not disappoint. He revealed much about this word, this fruit of the Spirit, this state of the heart. As 2021 came to a close, I sensed a new word, Little, was chasing me, so I declared it as my word for 2022 and spent the next twelve months discovering this word and topic with God. I've gathered the highlights and listed them here for my future reference. If you’re curious, keep reading ... but excuse the rough formatting!
1. Quiet time with Jesus: even a little is worth a lot!
I wake early every morning to spend quiet time with Jesus. On rare occasions, though, my alarm goes off and I simply cannot get up early. In these times God has shown me how much He can do if I’m willing to give Him just a little of my time—and I do mean a little. For example: 10 minutes. In the car. While driving to work.
When I’m unable to drag myself out of bed because I feel poorly or didn’t sleep well, my natural inclination is … well … grumpiness! On my own I’m simply less patient and more irritable. However God has shown me repeatedly that dedicating my 10 minute morning commute to Him can completely change my mood, my outlook, and my heart position. Whether I turn on Christian music, pray along with the Rosary, listen to a reflection on Scripture or a morning devotional (I use the Hallow app), or even just ride in silence while chatting with Jesus, giving Him those 10 minutes can actually change my entire day.
2. When I have very little of something, how easily do I part with it?
I felt called to sit with this question after reading the story about the poor widow told in both Mark and Luke’s Gospels. However, my reflection applied not just to money, but also my resources, belongings, time, talents, energy, etc.
“... Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. 'I tell you the truth,' he said, 'this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.'”
Sitting with this question I realized two factors often prevent me from giving when my supply is low:
- I assume my small gift won’t make a difference.
Let me not miss that Jesus considered the widow’s two coins to be of greater value than the higher amounts contributed by others. Once again, the economy of Jesus is very different from that of the world. He considers not just what we give, but how much we won’t give! In other words, it is the amount I hold on to, refusing to part with, that lessens the value of my gift—not the gift’s objective inherent value.
Plus, who am I to discredit the value of my objectively small gift? Let me not forget: God can do a lot with my little! I need only remember how He multiplied the loaves and fishes … or on a personal note, the way He changed my entire day when I gave Him just 10 minutes!
- I hold on to my limited supply out of fear.
This speaks to the varying positions of my heart when I give from my poverty (from my limited supply) or when I give from my abundance.
I’ve come to realize giving from abundance costs me very little. It feels safe, allowing me to continue providing for and protecting myself. It carries no risk, therefore requires no trust or faith. It asks nothing of me personally.
Giving from my poverty, though, requires I trust in God; it takes courage and requires faith. It leaves me vulnerable, lessening or even removing my ability to protect and provide for myself. This is the sort of giving that boldly declares I will depend on God for what I need, and not on myself. And I believe this is the kind of giving He considers most significant, the type of giving to which He invites me.
3. Feelings of littleness with regards to what God asks of me personally:
(Littleness = inadequacy)
The following statement in All She Had, the 2022 Lent devotional from Blessed is She, caught my attention immediately:
“Whenever we could, we said yes–a holy, inadequate, excitement-tinged yes that promised we’d do all we could while knowing it wouldn’t be enough.”
How often do I live life as if I only have two choices:
- Yes - because I believe I can do everything on my own
- No - because I don’t think I can manage everything on my own
However I’ve come to see that when my “yes” is based on self-sufficiency, it is pride-filled—directed towards my glory, not His. And it actually leaves no room for God, effectively closing the door through which He wants to enter my life.
I suspect each opportunity to which God invites me is an opportunity for me to give the sort of “yes” mentioned in the book above: a “yes” wrapped in feelings of inadequacy. One that declares “I’ll do all I can, even though I know it won’t be enough. But I trust You, God, to fill in where I am lacking.”
4. Sometimes, to be the bigger person, you must become little:
(Little = the opposite of pride)
Laying down my pride and becoming little can be a bridge of true connection with those who are most important in my life:
Forgiving - even when I don’t feel like it.
Admitting when I’m wrong and apologizing - even and especially when I don’t feel like it!
5. When I feel little, how do I respond?
In this sense I’m using the word ‘little’ to describe:
The times I feel not good enough, that I somehow don't measure up.
The times my actions and efforts aren’t enough or that I feel helpless in a situation.
The times I’m criticized by another (or even when I just think I’m being criticized).
The times I feel ashamed or embarrassed.
The times I feel left out or left behind.
This specific question is actually where Jesus and I spent the most time in 2022. One day I hope to write about this more, but for now, I’ll share some of what I've been pondering:
What do I do when I experience these unwanted feelings?
What do I do to prevent myself from experiencing these unwanted feelings?
What are the self-defense / self protection strategies that I adopted years ago during times I felt little that I still employ now?
Where and to whom do I turn when I feel little? Do I turn to God in these circumstances? Or away from Him?
As I have reflected on the word little throughout 2022, it has become quite clear: God is inviting me to embrace my own littleness. He wants me to view it as a place of encounter with Him. He wants me to recognize it as the thing that allows His power and glory to shine in, through, and for me. And perhaps, He needed me to spend the year reflecting on and becoming little because it was necessary for me to now embrace the word He has invited me to explore in 2023: play.
Have you ever chosen a word for the year? Do you have one selected for 2023? If so, leave a comment. I’d love to hear about it!
Praying your New Year is blessed, and as always, that God breathes life into these words.