2012 word of the year: “Open”

Last January, blog posts abounded regarding the one-word New Year’s resolution. I read about it for the first time on Amy K. Sorrell’s post, One Word for 2012. Mary DeMuth added her own twist by asking God to give her a photo for the year: Pic for the Year 2012. I don’t know how long this concept has been around, but it was new to me. I liked it.

I prayed for a word. Or a picture. Kept my ears, heart, and soul on watch for what my word might be. January slid by. Maybe my word won’t come. In late February, the word came to me at an odd time and place. My husband and I were at the gym and he was opening a tiny locker to safely store his keys and wallet. I stood a few feet away.


The still small voice whispered clearly—and I knew exactly what the word meant.

“Really, Lord?” I groaned inwardly. The word sounded familiar. It was possible I’d heard it before and hadn’t quite let it resonate. “Really?”


Open minded? Open hearted? Open eyes? Open up my locker and make my treasures vulnerable?

“All of the above.”

Such a risky word, open. Scary. Challenging. Intriguing. Invigorating. “Okay. You’re on.”

Although it’s only November, I’m already looking back over major writing and personal milestones for the past year. Apply “open” to each one and you’ll see why this was the perfect word for me.

January 2012

  • Attended my first writing critique group meeting; started offering up my novel for the review and criticism of strangers.

April 2012

May 2012

June 2012

  • Received my first professional critique from The Editorial Department
  • Interviewed a detective who works in the Juvenile Division-Abused Child Section of the Los Angeles Police Department, which led to a major personal milestone: 30 years after being sexual abused, I reported the family member to an abuse hotline to ensure the safety of his children. He was investigated by Child and Family Services and found to be a blameless and loving father. Thank you, God.

July 2012

  • Read The Wounded Heart by Dan Allender, which opened me up to some serious soul work. I thought I’d dealt with all this over 15 years ago, but I had much more work to do.
  • The painful internal work showed up on the outside: between June and October, I gained the 35 pounds back that I lost last year.
  • Through all this, my husband provided major moral support and unconditional love.
  • Opened myself up too much! Saying “yes” to too many personal favors for others caught up with me and I got mad.

August 2012

  • Fellow writers I’ve met online and at the OC Christian Writing Conference last May reminded me how much I miss being part of a Christian community. I began to search for a local church. (Fifteen years ago, I left the Christian culture. Left church. Left ministry. A long story. I’ve tried going to church several times in the past five years, but finally made a commitment to find one and stay put.)
  • Found a church and joined a small growth group. Over 10 weeks, we read Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No, to Take Control of Your Life—the perfect book for a people-pleasing, resentful giver like me. This book was the perfect complement to The Wounded Heart. What I learned from both books is helping me in my professional and personal worlds.

Fall 2012

Working hard to finish my novel. I’m taking about two weeks off from work—spread out over a couple of months—to focus on writing. My goals:

  • Continue meeting with writing critique group
  • Finish editing the book by December 31, 2012
  • Submit to an agent in January (by the way, does anyone know if this is a bad idea, time-of-the-year wise?)
  • Enter the ACFW 2013 Genesis Contest
  • Start my next novel
  • Ride the writer’s ride of joy and despair while trying to keep my expectations realistic.

A writer can’t write without experiencing personal transformation. It’s exhilarating, terrifying, uplifting, depressing.

On the darkest days, I wish my word of the year had been “shut.” Not available for input, growth, pain, relationships, or love. Safe in my little box of insulation and denial. But then I remember this excerpt from C.S. Lewis’ The Four Loves:

“There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket—safe, dark, motionless, airless—it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.”

So I move forward, open but guarded, asking for wisdom along the way.

Did you choose a one-word resolution this year? How have you applied it to your life?

Leave a comment


  1. This is so wonderful, Natalie.

    Yes, “Open” is the word for you this year. I’ve been inspired by reading your blog. I’ve seen how you trust God with your life and how you, like Job, still give Him praise despite the difficulties He allows and the questions He leaves unanswered. I know that 2013 is going to be another God-honoring year for you.

    At church this morning I picked up “The Four Loves” at our book table. I’ve never read it and almost bought it. After reading this amazing quote, you can be sure I’ll be bringing it home.

    • Darla – you warm my heart. Thanks for all your encouragement this year, especially regarding our shared faith.

      Such a cool coincidence that The Four Loves was in your hands the same day I wrote this post! It’s definitely a memorable book, and I need to read it again. Haven’t read it since college, but that passage found its way into my favorite quotes journal and I’ve always remembered the gist of it.

  2. Oooo, open is a good word. I love how you’ve chosen to apply it. 🙂

    This year, I chose the word “believe” as my word of the year. I struggle a little with having faith in my abilities, so I keep the word “believe” in my pocket as a means to keep trying and a reminder that I really am a writer. 🙂

    • Thanks C.B.!

      “Believe” is SUCH a huge word. A verb. “Believe” = trust. “I believe you.”

      Had to go look it up real quick… I love the simplicity of definitions:

      – Accept (something) as true; feel sure of the truth of.
      – Accept the statement of (someone) as true.
      – To accept something as true, genuine, or real
      – To have a firm conviction as to the goodness, efficacy, or ability of something
      – To accept the word or evidence of

      Interesting… “accept” keeps coming up in the definitions, doesn’t it? And “true.”
      Accept it lady. It’s true. No getting around it. You’re a bonafide writer. You know it. 🙂

  3. Your an amazing writer – thank you for being so open with us. I’ve enjoyed reading every post and can’t wait for your book to come out! Take Care!! Betty


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