Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Be still, by Iola Goulton

It's 2016, a new year, and over the last few weeks I've seen my social media news feeds full of people announcing their New Year's Resolutions (or plans. Or anti-resolutions.)

I've also seen many Christians announcing their word for the year. These words are typically encouraging, words like grace, peace, strong, challenge, balance, flourish. In fact, the “one word” movement is so popular it has its own website: www.myoneword.org. Their tagline: Change Your Life with Just One Word.

The My One Word movement comes from Pastor Mike Ashcraft, who uses the process in his church, both at an organizational and individual level. The idea is resolutions often centre on the negative: things we don’t like about ourselves, things we’d like to change. A long list of negatives that makes us feel bad about ourselves before we’ve even started. A long list that reduces our ability to focus.

In contrast, the My One Word challenge is about looking at who God wants us to become, and to pick one word on which to focus that positive change over the year.

My first thought in looking at the My One Word website was skepticism. I wasn’t convinced that one word can change a life. One person can: Jesus. But one word?

But then I got thinking . . .



Too many people have grown up with a wrong image of themselves, an image based on the words other people have used to describe them. Us. Words like stupid, fat, slow. Or twisting positive words so they come out sounding like a negative. Pretty. Intelligent. Sporty.

Sometimes we speak the negative words to ourselves. I’m too busy. I’m too sick. I’m too poor. I could never do that. Is that the truth? Or is it the lie we tell ourselves so we can avoid trying, avoid failing?

Words have power.



The words we think, the words we say, the words we write. The words we read. The words we hear.

Too many of us have spent our lives listening to the negative words from ourselves and others, allowing those negative words to rule in our lives. Instead, we should be listening to God. Some of us are simply too busy, too sick, too poor, to take time to listen to God.

Too busy is certainly one of my problems—when I first started thinking about this One Word idea, the word which came to me was overwhelmed. Hardly the stuff of inspiration.

But it made me step back, think about all I’d like to achieve this year, and how I’m going to do it. Feeling overwhelmed isn’t going to help. That’s the feeling that keeps me awake at night, wondering if I’ll be able to cram an extra few hours into the next day.

But then a verse popped into my mind. As they do.

Be still, and know that I am God (Ps 46:10, NIV)



Be still. Be still, and allow God to work in me, to plan for me, prepare the way ahead of me.

Be still.

It’s more aspirational than any list of resolutions I could have dreamed up. And more challenging. Yet there is a peace in the word that confirms God is in it.

Be still.

Be still, and know that I am God.

Do you have a word for 2016?

IOLA GOULTON lives with her husband, two teenagers and cat in the sunny Bay of Plenty in New Zealand, between Hobbiton and the Kiwifruit Capital of the World. She holds a degree in marketing, has a background in human resource consulting and freelance editing, is active in her local church and plays in a brass band.

Iola is a reader, reviewer and freelance editor who is currently writing her first novel, contemporary Christian romance with a Kiwi twist, and her first non-fiction book, which aims to help first-time authors navigate the changing world of Christian publishing.

Connect with Iola at www.iolagoulton.com (a work in progress she’s trying not to be overwhelmed by!) and www.christianreads.blogspot.com.

21 comments:

  1. Your suggestion to find a Positive resolution, a word that gives hope, is very helpful. It's so easy to fall into self-criticism without even knowing it! I will also remember "Be Still." Thank you!!

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    1. Thank you for inviting me to post, Sara!

      I do think we have to be aware of the words we use. We are, as writers, but we (I) often speaking without thinking, and the words that come out aren't always the words God would have me speak. I guess that's another application of being still.

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  2. Great post, Iola. I was introduced to the "one Word" idea a few years ago and so tried it as a means of driving focus in my walk with the Lord. And I've found it really useful. My word this year is "Delight" … in Him. We can be too "Me-focused" but learning to delight in Jesus helps me re-calibrate each morning.

    "Be still" … love that. Ps 46:10 is one of my favourite verses … I read once in the original Hebrew(?) be still meant to "let go" … I always think along those lines. Let go of my stuff, of my anxiety, my worries and let God be God.

    I look forward to hearing more about your year of "Stillness" in 2016.

    Oh and welcome to ICFW, Iola … is this your first post?

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    1. Thanks, Ian. No, this isn't my first guest post here. My second, I think.

      Delight - I like that. I like the positive connotations, and I like the way it's God-centred, not me (or you) centred.

      Let go. That makes sense, because it's hard to be still unless we can let go of all the things that are stopping us actually being still.

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  3. Hi Iola,
    I've come across those 'one word for the year' ideas too. I think you've made a good point that it's easy to do it in negative ways without even knowing it, so making an intention to do it positively isn't a bad idea. And your suggestion is a good one.

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    1. Thanks for commenting, Paula. Let me know if you decide on a one word!

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  4. Hi Iola,
    I have also seen that 'one word' for the year thing, but I haven't seen the website. I think I did participate somewhere and write a word. Because of my terrible memory, I have no idea where that was or indeed what the word was. "Bloom" rings a bell. I don't make New Year's resolutions anymore, as I know they will get broken. Instead I make monthly goals, and six monthly and yearly plans. However, if I were to find one word for myself for 2016, thinking about this with a fresh mind, my word would be 'patience'. I am forever wanting things to happen yesterday. I am looking forward to hearing how your year of 'stillness' goes - while I shall also be still and hopefully patient.

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    1. I have to admit that "still" isn't going so well - unless you count not moving from my PC . . .

      It might be that it's the verse rather than the word: the idea of resting in God and consciously giving Him control.

      Bloom is a good word. So is patience.

      Thanks for commenting!

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  5. Hi Iola, I haven't done the one word challenge, but I love your mentioning of God's two words ��

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    1. Thank you, Carolyn. One word, two words, many words . . . as long as we're in God's word, we're in a good place.

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  6. Hi Iola,
    Thanks for an excellent post pulling us back to God's word and power rather than our own. Great writing!!

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    1. Thanks, Cindy. Yes, it's all about God. At least, it should be.

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  7. Hi Iola,
    Thanks for an excellent post pulling us back to God's word and power rather than our own. Great writing!!

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  8. Lovely post, Iola. Wonderful to realize in the midst of our busy lives we can be still inwardly. Living that 'Be still' verse removes panic and builds trust in our faithful and loving Lord.
    God bless you!

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    1. Thank you, Rita!

      I think part of it has to be deliberately removing ourselves from our busy-ness and taking the time to connect with God.

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  9. Thanks for this inspiring post, Iola. I hadn't heard of the one word challenge before but I like it for its simplicity and memorability. I might give it a try, but perhaps a word per month.

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    1. A word per month? I like that idea. Or even a word per quarter. I do agree that a whole year seems like a long time (on the other hand, January has flown past, so perhaps a year isn't that long).

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  10. Our words do have power! Thanks for the reminder :-) My one word for 2016 is 'blessed' so I can remind myself that God is good (all the time!) and also so I can be on the lookout for the myriad blessings that cross my path every day.

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    1. For starters, we are blessed to live in a fabulous country. It's good word, and a good reminder.

      Today, I'm thankful for the rain which means it doesn't matter that I forgot to water the potplants last night!

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  11. Iola, thanks for your inspiring post :) It's interesting how we can often unknowingly turn something good into a negative or 'all-about-me'. My one word for a number of years has been balance. That includes stepping back and letting go and saying no and having rest. My work-a-holic tendancies battle with the idea of balance, and each year I make small steps in the right direction.

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    1. Balance . . . I can definitely see that applying for years! I think that's the other side of the being-still coin, at least for me.

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