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Moving Forward: One Word at a Time

| written by A.J. Coulter | 13 comments

I can tell from Op-Ed pieces, Facebook statuses, tweets, and every year-in-review special that 2013 proved to be an extremely hard year for a lot of people. My family and I were no exception. It was actually two and a half years of one thing right after another. 

My son almost died from MRSA pneumonia. My parents split after forty-four years of marriage. A church I loved dearly was torn apart, and as a result, I lost many close relationships formed over thirteen years of serving together. We made two moves of over 800 miles each. Two central figures in my life died within a year. Enough already! 

Sure, good things happened, too. I welcomed a new daughter into the world. I changed jobs. I started a writing group.  However, even with the positive, the pain I carried and the stress that accompanied them almost ended me.

Some days I still struggle to function with my relational roles of husband, father, friend, son, brother, much less the professional ones of instructor, writer, and medical professional.

But I noticed something. On the days I struggle, it is because something from the past seems to be pulling me backward. It could be a memory, a phone call, a Facebook post. Something will try to take me back to the pain, the dysfunction, the helplessness. I needed to move forward—for me, my family, my faith.

A friend of mine had embraced the OneWord challenge for a couple of years, and at the time, I thought it was cute. Everything seemed nice and neat, tied up in a bow, complete with graphics for social media. 

I did not understand the power of the simplicity. I did not realize the overreaching effects one word could have on every facet of your life. However, I did see that she changed, that it affected her in a profound way. I felt I needed to join.

Forward

As I contemplated my word, I reflected on what I desired to change. I wanted to get out of the rut. I needed to move beyond the pain. I longed for the ability to just get on with it. Then, it hit me—FORWARD

What a simple term. What a simple word. Or so I thought. 

As I reflected the last day of 2013 and the first day of 2014 about this “simple” word, it became evident that it is more than a direction; it is a lifestyle. 

My prayer now is that this word, FORWARD, becomes a filter through which I see my world. I aim to ask myself: Is this decision positioning me to move forward? Does this relationship hold me back? The answers may not be easy ones, but they are answers to my prayer, nonetheless. 

How might your word change you? It may seem simple, but I assure you it’s deeper than you think. I am glad to be on this journey with you.

One word. One choice. One mission. 

FORWARD.

A.J. Coulter writes fiction and poetry that often explores themes of identity, faith, relationships, and Southern Appalachian life. He founded the fiction critique group Hendersonville Writers and occasionally teaches college writing courses. You can find him on his writing blog or Facebook.

comments

Debbie: God bless you as you move forward with Him. Reply

A.J. Coulter: Thanks, Debbie. I appreciate that. I hope this blog helps others to decide to move forward, in whatever direction they are being led or decisions they make. Reply

carolmcelhenny: Wow, yes it seems like a heavy load you were carrying. Glad you are looking "Forward" to this new year. My word is "Vision" as I lost my vision while driving last Aug. Had a retina detachment. This surgery as well as cataract surgery has kept me out of work for 6 months. Today is my last dr. visit. I have had my sight restored and now want to see my spiritual sight set on Him. Reply

    A.J. Coulter: Carol, thanks for reading. Thank you for sharing your story and your word with me and the world. I am so thankful for your vision and all that you see this year, whether that be physical or spiritual. I hope these words from Ephesians 1 carry you through 2014: "I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe." Reply

vernette: wow A.J. thanks for sharing this. I agree that "one word" has far reaching impact...that you cannot envision when you start on the journey. My one word for 2013 was Truth and it impacted every area of my life. I am forever changed. This year my word is MOVE...I have been asking God to MOVE in a my life in a way I have not seen before. This year I want to MOVE on from the past, MOVE out of my rental into my own home, MOVE up at work...MOVE my body. You get the idea. The thing with focusing on just one word is that your actions start reflecting it. I wish you all the best on your journey FORWARD. I look forward to hearing how it progresses. Reply

    A.J. Coulter: Thanks, Vernette! I appreciate that. It seems many of us have similar words this year. Forward. Move. Now. Progress. My wife's word is ENERGIZE, and it complements my journey quite well. You can begin to see the pattern being given to us, and it's exciting to know it is not by chance. Reply

      vernette: Totally agree that it's not by chance! :) He really is ordering our steps. God bless you and your family on this journey. Reply

Bonita Boshers: I am hoping this year my health improves, this year will be a better one for me. Reply

    A.J. Coulter: I will agree with you on your health, Bonita. In the beauty of OneWord365, how is your one word driving you toward better health? Reply

Laura: Really enjoyed how you put this... I've chosen thrive. I really want it to define my 2014 Reply

    Bonita Boshers: TY For your comment i do understand where you are coming from.Myself on your Thrive comment i do thrive very hard as each day come to do my best with what ever comes myway Reply

    A.J. Coulter: I agree, Laura! We're more than conquerors. We should thrive, not just survive. Instead of thinking like a survivor, we should think like a 'thriver.' I really like that. All the best on your journey. I hope you keep us posted. Reply

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