I am not the sort of person who uses one word. Ever. For anything.

I was once asked to write an article for a magazine which was 180 words… I told my boss it was impossible, that it took more words than that for me to order a coffee!

Over the past few years I have come across a number of people who have chosen a word for their coming year. One word to guide, describe, identify with for the next block of 365 days. Something within me revolts at the idea of pinning myself down to one word – I mean how the devil are you supposed to choose just one???!! But there is part of me which craves the simplicity of having a north star, one guiding point to measure whether you are heading in the right direction even when it’s black as night. I love that one word can encompass family, work, hopes and fears, the unknown and the familiar.

Now I’m not crazy enough to believe that by picking one word, I can fortune-tell the year ahead, but I do believe in guidance which comes from above – a something beyond me which is greater than I can sum up or describe – a someone, actually, who has a graciously, divinely-crafted future for me… and I can believe he is capable of giving me one word.

And so I have been thinking and meditating and praying about the word for my next year. I have come up with some lovely ideas – most of them wishful thinking – and I have sifted out some terrible ones.

And throughout this process, time and again, through different circumstances, and in different places and for very different reasons, I have found myself looking up. Literally. Walking the dog in the forest I find myself spellbound by the view of the sky from between the sprawling branches that surround me. In a long car journey I have hours to take in the clear starlit sky. I have pondered the Christmas story of shepherds and wise men who looked up and were guided by light and angelic hosts. So often I have found myself looking up.

And every time I do I hear the word ‘choose’.

In every circumstance, through every incident, with my time, my emotions, my decision… I have two choices – to look up, or look down. I can choose to stare at my feet and see nothing but myself standing still, or I can choose to look up and wonder and marvel and see beyond myself. I have a choice to have a perspective which is vast or one which is small and narrow. My life is full of choices – and I have heard many people quote that the most spiritual thing you can do is make choices – for good or for ill.

And so this year I am taking the word ‘choose’ and I am going to take it out daily, hourly, maybe every minute. I am going to have a deliberate edge to my choosing, I am going to take the opportunities I have and CHOOSE to use them wisely for my good and for the good of those around me. I will choose to see the good in situations and people, I will choose to pour out grace not judgement, to make every moment count.

This year I claim the freedom to choose to make this the most spiritual, dynamic, productive, intentional year yet. This year is a year of choosing to look up – whatever happens upon the path I’m walking.

I don’t know where this year will take me, our family, my work, my health… but I love that already my perspective is beginning to change from looking at the things on the path to looking above and seeing a whole new set of possibilities.

So I give you permission, if you ever see me looking down, loosing perspective, only seeing the dirt to remind me that I have a choice. That I have the option available to simply choose to look up.