Words have power

For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of - Luke 6:45 NIV

My church has embraced and engaged with My One Word this year. A simple idea - like so many great ideas - it has revolutionised conversations within our church community.  The image above is a weighted word picture of the One Words from my church community.  The larger the word the more frequently it was shared by others.

When we ask each other how we are, we often reach for single words from standard cultural stories to measure and assess our location - I'm tired, busy, worried, etc.  With My One Word, I have noticed something else taking place.  People reach for their One Word as their key descriptor.  They now say I've been trying to be 'brave', to 'listen', be more 'grateful' etc. 

Or as they tell the story of their last few days, they use some powerful words, words that map the territory of their experiences external and internal.  Then something amazing takes place.  As they observe those self-narrations, they instinctively deploy their One Word.  It's like they bring their One Word out of the deepest parts of their identity and re-narrate those stories with a much more powerful word.

Conversations of being 'so busy' quickly turn to a realisation and articulation of opportunity to be present.  'My one word is 'present'; I realise I need to stop letting life pass me by with my busyness and enter into what God has in front of me, right here and right now'.

We are meaning-making creatures.  Stories and scripts run as the operating systems fo our inner lives.  Some of those come from our parents, some from popular culture, some from our experiences.  Some originate from the enemy himself - the father of lies.  God's word is the story by which we exchange, measure, update, and assess all our other stories.

That's why My One Word is so powerful.  It places one word, a word that takes time to elicit and elucidate, into the centre of our life stories.  The process to hear and locate one word is a process of re-narration.  The One Word process becomes a means for encoding larger and more expansive stories.  Ultimately the story of God and my location in His reality is distilled into one word.  

That one word when evoked in our storytelling boots up a different reality.  

My one word this year is 'differentiate'.  It seems to takes lots of words to explain that to others. Mind you take a simple word like 'Joy'.  You think you know what that means until you ask someone to explain why it is their one word.  Then a feast of life, experience and meaning come flooding out, and you think, how can one word contain so much?

Differentiate - this is the extended experience of some of my deepest struggles the last few years distilled through the lens of a life-changing conversation with a friend last year.  That led to hours of reading, reflecting, coaching, mentoring and spiritual direction.  This one word, differentiate, has become a trigger in my prayer life, thought life, inner monologues and external conversations. It contains a kaleidoscope and cornucopia of meaning, meaning that helps me navigate who and where I am before God.