One Word 365: Closing 2012 and Christening 2013

Happy 2013!

I’m certain nobody — on the Internet especially — has wished you a happy new year yet. So let me be the first to wish such gleeful tidings upon you. Even though we’re now a week into this new year. Better late than never, right?

For faithful followers of my blog, y’all know I’ve not been blogging with as much regularity in recent months as the many months prior. My writing apathy has paralleled some spiritual apathy, which I discussed here last month.

Further faithful followers will also know I committed to this One Word 365 project in 2012. Forget resolutions. My single-word theme for the year was courageous, and what a courageous year indeed it was.

From an unforeseen baptism to an overwhelming summer at camp to an unpredictable move back to the west coast, it was a year filled with courageous moments — all testaments not to my own bravado, but to God and God alone. I’d not have experienced such a fulfilling year without His sustaining and enabling me all 365 of those days.

Wait. Was 2012 a leap year? Was One Word 365 actually One Word 366 this whole time??

Well, I’M PRETTY SURE 2013 is not a leap year, so it’s time for my second crack at One Word 365.

Toward the middle of December I began pondering my “one word” for 2013. It’s kinda hard to top courageous. How do you build upon that?

My soul was perplexed for a while, but I never panicked. Eventually, my one word found me. And I’m more excited — terrified — about this word than I ever was about courageous.

As I meditated upon the year ahead, I realized something: the courageous moments need to keep on coming, whether it’s my “official” one word or not. I can’t just have a courageous 2012 only to have a cowardly 2013.

From another summer youth job to teaching English in South Korea to self-publishing this eBook that I promise I’ve not forgotten about, 2013 is going to require bucket-loads of courage. More than 2012 ever required.

At the core of all that needed courage remains my identity: not who others think I am and not who I think I am. Not what others expect of me or what I even expect out of myself.

Introducing my One Word 365 for 2013:

One Word 365: Identity

While at camp last summer, I was granted an Indian name that has slowly taken over this blog and, so too, my life. In recent weeks, I’ve begun believing that Traveling Golden Trout was not just a silly little name spoken over me this summer. Begun believing that this “silly little name” was indeed a supernatural identity granted me by several unsuspecting Little Chiefs.

I’m not just a guy who drove 4,000 zig-zagging miles to eventually reach this North Carolinian camp. Not even a guy who’s called seven different physical locations “home” within just the last two years.

I am Traveling Golden Trout because this name encompasses my entire identity. My past and my present; my calling and my future.

I’ve long struggled with my self-image and self-worth. Youthful acne and introversion will put you a few yards behind the rest of the world. It’s only been since moving out at 23 and stepping into a new life in California (via two life-changing summers in Milwaukee and North Carolina) that I’ve slowly begun untangling the complicating web of my identity.

Even recently, I’ve obsessively pursued meaningless measures to achieve validity for my identity:

  • I need at least ____ friends.
  • I need to hang out with ____ friends every week.
  • I need to make at least $____ per month.
  • I need at least ____ blog followers.
  • I need at least ____ Twitter followers.
  • I need a literary agent and a publishing house to sign me.
  • I need a girlfriend.
  • I need a wife.
  • I need kids. Four.
  • I need a frikin home on this planet.

It’s the last one that stings the most: this inconceivable notion of home. And yet that’s where my One Word 365 infuses unthinkable purpose into long assumed heartache.

Over the last quarter-century, I’ve literally scoured the country looking for sweet impossible home. But perhaps my perspective, despite my well-meaning intentions, has been completely wrong.

What if my earthly “home” is not restricted to a single place? What if “home” represents something far more significant for me?

What if everything I’ve endured to this very moment has been to prepare me for a future of travels? Wandering ventures that carry me far beyond purple mountain majesty and amber waves of grain? A roaming future not meant as a depressing letdown, but an incredible triumph?

What if Traveling Golden Trout needs to be set loose from this algae-ridden pond?

From South Korea to trips that span the entire globe, my life could very well be taking a drastic turn this year. If God indeed decides to uproot me from this three-year home and fly me to Korea, then so be it. I don’t wanna play Jonah and run from my calling.

I’ll admit being terribly frightened of the cost: intimidation, isolation. But who’s in charge of my life, my story? Me? What if Someone far greater has something far more meaningful in store? Greater than anything I could ever pen myself?

Whatever and wherever God calls me in 2013, I want to courageously step into that identity. An identity I eventually see as less my own and further more my Maker’s.

My Author’s.

Did you participate in One Word 365/366 last year? How did your word ultimately shape your year? Do you have a “One Word 365” for 2013? STORY TIME!

  • MLYaksh

    I did indeed participate in One Word 365/366 for 2012! My word- Surrender. Mainly, I thought I would surrender my control freakness over planning my future- but God expanded it. Surrender this year for me entailed: waiting two months for an unpaid internship that wasn’t gladly given to me, a brother’s divorce that has ripped up my family, turning down my dream job, enduring a rough transition at church, and living on no income for about 8 months currently. Several breakdowns, sicknesses, and medication reactions later- I’m in 2013.

    So what word did I choose to top that? Believe. I had started growing cold and hopeless in my life. Seemed like suffering was never going to end for me. But through a message from John Piper, God gave me a new hope. When everything around me said God had no more blessings for me, Jesus spoke to me about heaven. He reminded me that this is not my home- no matter what may happen to me, nothing can compare to my real home.

    Home. That illusive place. What we all so desparately want but can’t find. And yet, we have one, waiting for us. And the funny thing- I know that Jesus is more excited about me coming home than I am. In that case, why do I doubt? Why do I worry? Why do I fear?

    Why not rather believe?

    So that’s my word. Believe. Proud of your courageous 2012 Tom. Praying for your Identity in 2013!

    • TMZ

      Will have to give John Piper a listen soon. Always hear so much positive stuff about him. Prayers for a fruitful 2013 that renews your belief in a Master Storyteller for your life all over again.

  • Lauren

    Love this post! Praying over you and wishing you the best this year. I’d never heard of One Word 365, but last year I predicted that 2012 would end up being the year of growth, and it absolutely was. God called me outside my comfort zone in numerous ways, and it was fantastic. Still working on condensing my concept of 2013 into a single word!

    • TMZ

      2012 was such a year of growth for me as well. Will never forget it. And remember: growing never gets old! There’s always room for more growth and continuing to step beyond your comfort zone. Regardless of your official “theme” for the year, I pray 2013 brings you even more wonderful growth.

  • Elena

    Beautiful, Tom. I think there are some of us who are born with this ache for “home” as if our soul remembers our true home. I know I’m one of them. One of my favorite authors, Flannery O’Connor, wrote a short story called “Displaced People.” The title speak to who we really are while on earth. And despite that, God does help us find home with those we love, who love us … so for me, home is more of a space of loving/belonging rather than a place. So thankful you are part of my home, Tom … and as to that one word for 2013, I believe for me it’s OPEN … to life, to others, to God’ graces! 🙂

    • TMZ

      I’ll have to read that story some time! I already love it. And I’m slowly learning to attribute “home” to something far beyond the physical/geographic. So very grateful to be part of your home and have you as part of mine too! All the best in 2013 and being OPEN.

  • Rebecka

    You certainly were courageous in 2012, Tom! And you still are, choosing Identity for your One Word 365 takes courage! I am so incredibly inspired by this post. Last year I didn’t have a word but the idea intrigues me. During the last days of December, the word HOPE kept coming at me from all directions (blogs, articles, music). I lost hope far too many times in 2012. This year I need to find it, hold on to it and not let it slip away from me.

    • TMZ

      Thanks for the encouraging words, Rebecka! HOPE is a beautiful word for any year. I pray you find overflowing buckets of hope this year.

  • Great word; great post. In many ways — teaching English in South Korea over a summer, trying to get a book published, searching for a sort-of permanent home — I can identify with the Traveling Golden Trout. It’s encouraging to read such an honest blog, and I wish you the best in your 2013 search for identity!

    • TMZ

      So encouraging that you could relate and identify with my identity. Striving to be more courageous this year in owning my story rather than cower in fear and shame over it. Excited for the journey ahead. All the best to you and your 2013 as well!

  • Great word for this year! It’s really cool to see the journey your word took you on last year! I’ve always tried the one word, but usually I made them up at the last second, or chose a word I wanted to. But this year I sat down and prayed about it, and sought out God’s Word. And the word I came up with was “Being”. It mostly stems from the story of Mary and Martha and Being vs. Doing. I’m sure it’s to be an interesting year. Blessing for your new year!

    • TMZ

      BEING. I just love your Mary/Martha comparison. That’s beautiful. Prayers and blessings for a wonderful year of BEING!

  • Transformed was by word for 2012. And it was definitely a transforming year for me.

    Epiphany is my word for 2013. I am excited to see God revealed in new ways in the coming year.

    • TMZ

      EPIPHANY. Wow. Love it. Awesome word. Excited for what He reveals to you this year!

  • Dionne

    Master was my word last year and I learned so much about what I needed to give up that I didn’t even know I was clinging to. This year, my word is Weak. I am a bit nervous b/c I’ve been here before, but I know that God will redeem me in the midst of it and I will see Him deeper and that is worth more than gold. Love your Indian name! Mine? “Eagle Eyes.” Can’t wait to see what God does in your life with identity.

    • TMZ

      WEAK is a phenomenal word. “Strong” would be a more convenient, more “normal” word, but when we seriously start to recognize how very weak we are, God can be so very strong. Prayers for a strength-filled year despite whatever weaknesses you may have! Thanks so much for commenting and sharing your story, Dionne / Eagle Eyes. I really appreciate it!

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