Openness, take two

by Kristin on January 7, 2013

in Belief, doubt & hope

Photo by Turkish Travel

Soar. Bold. Thrive. Abide. Faithful. Go.

My beautiful friends chose such beautiful, important words for the New Year. I watched the words flutter by me on Twitter and Facebook the first few days of 2013, inspired by their vibrancy yet hesitant to reach out and grab any of them for myself. The words were like butterflies, best admired from a distance; if I tried to grab one, surely I would ruin it.

Of course, I could always try to preserve its beauty by carefully mounting it, spreading its wings and affixing them with pins, where they could be protected by glass and displayed on the wall. A close friend of my parents has a museum-quality butterfly collection, which I examined each time we visited his house when I was a child. I was amazed by the intricacy of the patterns and colors, the delicate hair-like feathers which I knew could be damaged by even the most careful touch. I was also sobered to see the butterflies fixed and flat, no longer flitting happily in the sunshine.

Hopes are like that: beautiful but delicate, and so easily crushed. Perhaps that’s why I didn’t touch my One Word for 2012. In fact, I didn’t even remember claiming a word, until I looked at my first blog post of last January and saw it, tentative and half-buried, there.


That was my word. I guess I should have tattooed it on my wrist, because I’m pretty sure I had forgotten all about it by February. Which is exactly why I tend to avoid such resolutions and proclamations—rather than inspire and guide me, they tend to weigh on me, either in my remembering them or forgetting them.

But just as I decided to close myself up against the word—to protect myself against hopeful, challenging things I can’t control—I saw the irony and laughed. I was closing myself to openness. I can be open or I can be closed; I can’t be both. And if I have to chose, I’d rather try to be more open and maybe fail, than try to find any assurance in the safety of closing myself off.

I wondered, briefly, if I shouldn’t choose a new word for 2013. Is it cheating to give the same word another whirl? But it seems clear that openness is still what I need more of. It may be what I will always need more of, given the protective, logical, organized aspects of my character.

Even though I didn’t go into any real detail in my post a year ago, as soon as I saw the word written there, all my hopes around openness came back to me:

I wanted (and still want) to be more open to God’s leading and less dependent on my own plans.

I wanted (and still want) to be more open to unexpected people and moments that arrive in my life, even when they seem to get in the way of something else I had expected or planned.

I wanted (and still want) to be more open to good things that might emerge as a result of something difficult or frustrating. I wanted (and still want) to be more open to possibility, and less constricted by worry and fear.

I probably won’t get the word tattooed on my wrist, or even pin down the wings of a butterfly as a reminder. But I think I will try to write a post about openness each month, an idea inspired by my friend Leigh, who wrote several posts over the course of 2012 about her One Word, hope. In general I’ll just do my best to follow the word where it leads me, rather than try to capture it and bend it to my will. After all, that’s the whole point of being open, right?

* * * * *

I’d love to hear what your One Word is, if you’ve chosen one, as well as your thoughts on the word “openness!”

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  • Caris Adel

    I like that idea of writing once a month about it. Good word. I picked one last year and didn’t really do much with it either.

    • kt_writes

      Maybe we should pick a certain date when we all check in around our One Word in some fashion—perhaps the first Monday of the month?

  • HopefulLeigh

    I totally meant to ask whether you’d picked a word but then Jason started talking politics and I got distracted. Openness is a good one and well worth repeating. I found that writing regularly about my word last year helped me figure out what I was learning and also how to be more mindful about it in the process. Looking forward to where openness takes you!

    • kt_writes

      I can’t imagine how Jason’s political talk was distracting! :) Anyway, I’m looking forward to hearing what your new word is. And not to confine you in any way, but if you want to coordinate monthly One Word updates, as sort of an accountability group, let me know!

  • Alyssa Bacon-Liu

    Your word is so great! I’m doing One Word for the first time this year and its “Seek.” I think making a point to write once a month about my one word sounds like a great way to hold myself accountable! Thanks for the idea!

    • kt_writes

      Seek. Such a beautiful and powerful word! Let me know if you want to organize some sort of loose schedule so we can keep tabs together! Maybe the 1st Monday of each month? Others seem interested, too…

      • Alyssa Bacon-Liu

        I’m in!! I definitely don’t want to squander my word this year :) Let me know the details when you get them sorted out!

  • Katie Noah Gibson

    I’ve had mixed experiences with my words – “brave” was my word for 2010 and it still resonates through my life, but my words the last couple of years have sort of flitted on by. This year my word is “attention” (partly inspired by Lauren, and the Glen) and I am hoping to follow it more closely.

    By the way: you were open to the Glen, and sharing a room with me for a week and driving all around the state, even though it was totally unexpected. And it was fabulous. :) Maybe your word didn’t quite disappear after all.

    • kt_writes

      “Brave” has such a strong, inspiring way about it, doesn’t it? And if I have the timeline right, you had a lot to be brave about that year!

      You’re right about me being open about our fabulous Glen experience. That sort of helps me get at how exactly I’m closed. I’m not afraid of new experiences or people, I’m just very logical and organized about how I go about them—I want to write my life and choreograph my days rather than see what God might be doing. Being open at the Glen was more about seeing and accepting that I had to take some steps back with my book project before I could move forward. Does that make sense? Either way, I’m so thankful for that week we had together, and I’m looking forward to another one this year!

  • Kari

    I did “yes” last year and I think it might have changed my life. I didn’t blog about it every month, but it definitely shaped the way I responded to things and popped up throughout the year. This year I picked “soft-hearted.” I am not sure what it is going to mean yet but there was a sermon on Christmas Eve about having a heart of flesh and I couldn’t get it out of my head.

    I like “openness” because it contains basically both of the words that I have used. Saying yes to things, having an open heart. Maybe that’s why you need to do it two years in a row. :)

    • kt_writes

      I like that “yes” is a word that’s a response, an answer, and that it finds its way into so many aspects of our days! I also like that you were willing to choose something this year that doesn’t quite make sense to you yet. I agree—my word is very much a combination of “yes” and “soft-hearted.” We should compare notes as we go!

  • Sarah Louise

    Sort of boring, but I sort of chose “work.” B/c I want this year to be the year I make some decisions about my “work” future. I’ll need a lot of hope and openness, too, though. Great post, and I like the idea about checking in periodically as a community. I had a great bloggy community in the mid 2000s and miss it. (Most folks stopped blogging as much when FB went mainstream.)


    • kt_writes

      “Work” might seem boring on the surface, but there are so many ways to work at something, and the work we do—what we do with our energy and time—is so important! Blessings on your experience! And please do feel free to blog updates with us the first Monday of each month!

  • Erin Burke

    I’ve never chosen a one word, mostly because I think I’ll forget about it, or halfway through the year I’ll discover that it wasn’t the right word and I should have chosen something else.
    I love that you’re trying your word again. (Because I’m pretty sure that’s where I would end up too.)

    • kt_writes

      Thanks for understanding my silly self! :)

  • Lisa Colon DeLay

    I’ve been thinking about this…and I get manage to grab just one.
    [Growth] maybe.

    • kt_writes

      Growth is interesting, because it involves both effort and letting go. Are there specific areas you want to grow in?

      • Lisa Colon DeLay

        That is SO true. I’m certainly challenged to grow in my assigned course work reading….sure I can just do the work, but the point of the texts is to challenge and stretch me as we read through a bunch of Christian Devotional Classics (about 35-40). I’d like to grow more deeply in grace, and in harmony with those around me. It’s not just seeing things differently, but transforming. It’s being brave. Looking at the crap, repenting of it. Starting fresh, and avoiding the old ways and traps.

  • Brock Webster

    You are a great writer and very brave. You offer real life and “God” life. Thank you for posting. My wife and you have alot in common.

    • kt_writes

      Thank you, Brock. That’s very kind. (And good luck to you if you’re married to someone like me! :)

  • Elizabeth

    Love love love it. How wonderful…just know this will take you to great places in the months ahead. There are pieces of my heart’s desire in this too. May you be blessed in your days by the Lord who wants His highest and best for you. Hope to follow along a bit in 2013. Bravo!

  • Grace at {Gabbing with Grace}

    I love your word and all the things it means to you. I pray that you will also experience more open-ness in how your relate to your word =) …that it will bring freedom & not heaviness. Just wonderfully said!

  • Michael Hadley

    Openness is a great word. It’s definitely something I struggle with. Humans like to have things their way, and a lot don’t like change or being open to differences. I chose dependence for my word. Basically dependence on God

  • Alison

    Oh wow! Openness would turn my year upside down. I tend to keep my cards close to my chest, so God himself would have to pry them away from me to give openness a chance.

    My word for 2013 is community. Half-eager/half-scared to see how it’ll play out!

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