My Word Had Something Left to Teach Me

In the last days of 2014, posts about #oneword365 took over my Twitter and Facebook feeds. Everyone seemed to know what they wanted to focus on for 2015. I, on the other hand, was stumped. A few words had come to mind, but nothing with staying power. I wasn't sure why. I thought perhaps it meant I should refrain from choosing a word this time around.

Turns out my word paralysis wasn't about 2015, but 2014. I couldn't move onto my next word because my current word still had something left to teach me.


I chose be as my word for 2014 because I knew I had a lot to learn about being the true me, not the people-pleasing me. I also understood that the shadow side of my achiever nature meant I sometimes thought my value was based on what I did, not on who I was. I wanted to learn how to fight that.  

That idea sunk into me so fully that when I took a strengths-finder exam in 2014, I received a false result. Achiever has always shown up as a strength or personality trait for me when I take these types of tests, but it was absent this time around. It surprised me at first, until I thought about my response to the test questions. Everytime there was a statement about feeling worth based on what I accomplish, I answered with whatever response was closest to, "No! My worth is not based on what I do but who I am!" 

Interestingly enough, my efforts to lean into being me meant my personality test didn't fully reflect who I was. Pendulums swing from one end to the other before they settle down into a calm center.


After a year of difficult lessons and even harder choices, the last few days of 2014 were upon me. I was ready to move on, longing to get into the space of new life and growth God has for me next.

But instead, I was sick. Nothing severe. Just a sore throat and tired body, weary from fighting off whatever virus was trying to make its way in.  

It wasn't what I would have chosen. But it turned out to be the perfect classroom for one more lesson from my word. 

To be honest, I'm a little embarrassed to share this as a post about a new lesson learned.  Many of you may read it and think my revelation quite obvious. For other people, and other personality types, this would hardly require reflection. It's just what you do. 

But for me, this was a new epiphany, about myself and about the world.


While I was feeling sick, my husband was asked me to help with someting around the house. I did it, but only while grumbling and playing out an argument with the imaginary voices in my head.

All I wanted to do was take a nap, and there I was, painting a bathroom wall instead.

Why couldn't I ever be the person who struggled? Why couldn't I just be sick? When would people let me take a break? 

It felt ridiculous to type that last sentence, and I am bewildered that it took me so long to notice the problem as I thought through the sentiment.

My final lesson of how to be was one that has been written on posters and bumper stickers for decades: that I was free to be me. Free to embrace who I am when that means success and when that means failure. Free to be me when it means helping others and when it means taking a break.

No one needs to let me lay down. When my body tells me I need it, I just have to let myself lay down.

Learning to be sometimes means learning to be sick and still be okay


These first days of 2015 I'm feeling healthier in more ways than one.