‘Obey’ was 2015’s word of the year, and boy are my arms tired

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Hello, late December. Christmas is over, the new year is still unborn, so I’m the dry turkey in the middle.

About a month ago, I tweeted “2015 has been one giant shit show punctuated by occasional mercy flushes.” I stand by that assessment, although December has been kind, sparkly, solemn. There have been difficult moments, like the meltdown over snow on my dad’s grave but I felt carried. I felt gifted. I felt peace. My son, who struggles with depression and spent a chunk of November hospitalized, sat next to the tree opening presents with delight. It was beautiful. 

Pessimist me, with plunger in hand and a familiar tummy rumble, says I’m a fool for relaxing. Surely the next calamitous deluge of stank is just around the corner. I’m a little twitchy and shellshocked. If I could ball up the year into a tidy bundle, I’d drop kick it at the stroke of midnight and boot it to Pluto’s icy heart while flipping it off and singing that “hey hey hey goodbye” song.

Naturally, I’m spending these days reflecting on 2015 and how my Christian-lady mandated Word of the Year or #OneWord fit in with the calm and calamitous moments. The word I chose—or that chose me—was OBEY.

I wasn’t excited for OBEY. But, everywhere I turned in December, there it was staring at me from the Bible, from books I read, from sources beyond myself. After prayer and writing, it was declared. OBEY.

I’ve never prayed more than I did in 2015. I thought I prayed a lot before, but no. 2015 was a constant prayer in many ways. I literally got on my knees on several occasions. I talked to Jesus as I drove places and tried to sleep. I ranted at him in the shower, in hospitals (so very many hospitals this year), in churches, and in a large amount of gardens. I also shut up and listened to him in those places, too. Prayer is a conversation. It’s obedience. It’s how I received solace, wisdom, and marching orders.

You can’t have OBEY without pray and you can’t pray unless you own that it’s an act of obedience.

One year ago, I asked this question: Where am I being taken in 2015 where OBEY is front and center?

I was taken to hospital rooms, a death bed, a mortuary, a cemetery. I drove children places they needed to be even when I didn’t want them to be there. I was taken to the end of my driveway where I pulled piles of medical bills out of the mailbox. On the walk back up to my beautiful, expensive front door I wondered how we will pay them.

I saw my first-born graduate from high school in a soaring ceremony after months of wondering if she would.

I saw my newly widowed mother smile and laugh and speak of the future with a plan, hope, and deep faith.

I spent Christmas morning with my son, who a month earlier wanted to die.

I hiked along the rocky shore of a mountain lake. I parted eye-high wildflowers to see a view from 10,000 feet. I was above soaring birds, for once. They sailed below. Had they been bigger and I smaller, I could have busted a Gandalf out and hopped on for a ride.

I get out of my bed each day with a prayer said, fresh. I made it a priority because I was told to. Obey.


And when the new word of the year was revealed through prayer, reading, even funny moments, I said yes.

It’s READY. Literally, it’s “ready.”


Where will I be taken in 2016 where READY is front and center? 


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