EMBRACE: My Theme Word for 2020, and Why.

By Donna Gibbs, LPCS

I am admittedly a fierce goal-setter, and am very driven and task-oriented. But I am also, admittedly, not very fond of traditional New Year’s Resolutions. Let’s be honest, most New Year Resolutions for 2020 have already been broken by this point, just two weeks into the year. I prefer meaningful goal-setting throughout the year, vs an obligated (and often less meaningful) goal that starts on the first day of the year, but rarely has a solid “Why”. 

And that’s why I favor keeping my serious, planned and measurable goals in front of me at various times throughout the year, while focusing on a theme word for each New Year. This past December, I began patiently praying about what that word would be for 2020, and it didn’t take me long to realize the one word that it would have to be: EMBRACE. 

I’ve always thought of the word “embrace” as a beautiful and delicate word. Soft, eloquent, gentle and graceful. But that is definitely not why I landed on the word EMBRACE for my 2020 theme. I wrote on my pantry-housed chalk board the three reasons why I feel God tugging my heart to “embrace” in 2020.




Let’s talk about Embracing Change. You see, I know our family will experience massive changes in this coming year. One of those changes has already passed. Change wasted no time in 2020, as the very first day of this year was also my first day in a new office space. After 21 years of serving on the same campus (mostly in the same office), we moved the hub of our practice and transferred to a new space across the county. It’s a wonderful change. But any kind of change can invite our resistance, right? That first day of the year was an opportunity for me to fully “embrace” change, and I must say that this intentional focus has been greatly refreshing and encouraging! But that’s not all the change that is coming our way. My oldest children, twin boys, will be wrapping up their high school career in just a few months, and soon thereafter packing up for the next chapter in their lives (to a city far away from mom and dad). Yikes! It is a beautiful season of change, and, gratefully, one that God is preparing my heart to “embrace”. At the same time, my youngest will be entering Kindergarten. Geez! Where does the time go? And what momma doesn’t need a little extra touch of “embrace” when her oldest children empty the nest and her youngest heads to school? These are just the changes I know to anticipate. But I am sure there will be many more transitions that I just don’t see coming. There are changes of life that we can’t possibly predict, which brings me to the next point of focus, Embracing Challenge

Those unpredicted changes (perhaps unwelcomed changes) are the challenges of life. I know I will face challenges in 2020. I don’t know exactly what they will be, but I’ve experienced enough adversity in my lifetime to know that while challenges birth a lot of pain, they also birth other remarkable characteristics. Things like Resilience. Patience. Empathy. Gentleness. Self-Control. Courage. Wisdom. These are characteristics, in their purity, that can only be developed in the fire of a trial (yep, the hard way)! When I embrace my desire of those characteristics in my life, I must also embrace the challenge that precipitates them. Recognizing that God is the Author or Allower of my future challenges, I will seek to embrace challenge in the same manner that I embrace His Sovereignty. So, here’s to embracing the inevitable, but unknown, challenges of 2020.

My last focus, Embracing Growth means recognizing and celebrating the victories as they come, and praising the Creator and Author of all victories, Jesus! Just as I routinely encourage my clients to be diligently alert to victories, I will be doing the same in 2020, because victories mean growth

These are important aspects of embracing, but the most powerful conviction about embracing has yet to be mentioned. You see, if all I do is embrace change, challenge, and growth, then my experience of embracing in 2020 will only be superficial. More than anything, I am led to EMBRACE JESUS in 2020. Because nothing else matters like Jesus matters. And with my eyes fixed on Him, I will seek to process the changes, the challenges and the growth, leaning on Him for strength, discernment, and Hope, and being quick to acknowledge His activity in the victories of 2020. 

So how does this discussion apply to you? Here are a few things to ponder as you look with anticipation to the year ahead. 

  1. If you’ve set a New Year’s Resolution, that’s great! Just make sure that you have a plan in place, that your goal is measurable, that you are familiar with your “Why” and you review it daily, and that you have the accountability to sustain you when you grow weary of the perseverance required for accomplishing an important goal. Why does a resolution require so much care and attention? Because if your resolution were easy for you to accomplish, you would have already done so prior to 2020. If it had previously been doable, a New Year Resolution wouldn’t even be required! This is probably an intimidating task for you, so do some serious planning to assure your success!
  2. For the rest of you, I will encourage you to consider a theme word for your year. Hey, it’s still early in the year! It’s not too late!

What does it look like to live out your word for the year? Here are a few suggestions:

*Keep your theme word in front of you. This repetition of exposure will increase your remembrance and awareness. I write my word in my pantry and my laundry room (because I’m in that chaotic stage of life raising children and those are the two places that seem to consume much of my time these days!)

*When you study God’s Word, seek to understand the scripture first, and then pay attention to that same scripture through the filter of your particular word. (Let me tell you, examining scriptures through the lens of the word “embrace” shines an entirely new light and creates a fresh level of enthusiasm regarding spiritual truths!

*Pray often that God will use your commitment to a particular word as an opportunity for discernment and growth in daily living. 

*No matter your word, I will encourage you to EMBRACE JESUS in 2020. If you don’t know Him, embracing Him will simply require your attentiveness to the consideration of trusting Him. Allow yourself to lean-in to the possibility of a relationship with Jesus. This would be a great time to reach out to a trusted Christian friend. I’m sure they’d be honored to tell you more about their journey.

And if you already know Him, contemplate the phrase, “Embracing Jesus”! EMBRACING JESUS is a beautiful and affectionate phrase that propels us to actively hold Jesus closely, and willingly allow Him to hold us! To enthusiastically accept Him, and to include Him in every aspect of our lives. Embracing Jesus shifts our focus towards Him, and will certainly be a refreshing salve for life in 2020!

Donna Gibbs, LPCS

Donna Gibbs, co-owner of Summit Wellness Centers, PLLC, is author of the recent releases, Silencing Insecurity and Becoming Resilient. Donna has authored numerous other books, her blogs are frequently shared in various media outlets, and she is commonly featured on radio broadcasts across America, and occasionally internationally as well. Donna has been providing individuals and families the hope and help they need for more than twenty years as a national certified counselor, board-certified professional Christian counselor, and licensed professional counselor supervisor. A member of the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC), she is a leading professional provider for Focus on the Family, Christian Care Network, r3Continuum, FINDINGbalance, and Samaritan’s Purse. 

Follow Donna’s author page at https://www.facebook.com/DonnaGibbsResilience/ for daily encouragement, the weekly blog, and updates regarding events and speaking engagements.

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