This Year I’m Gonna Dwell

Choosing a Word of the Year might be a bit in vogue among Christians. There are, after all, websites created to help you find your word, Instagram posts that encourage your choices, and bloggers (like me) who mention it frequently. It’s true–sometimes we choose a word to keep us free of FOMO–that fear of missing out. And, having a Word of the Year can be a fleeting fetish or a momentary mania that might only make it with us till March. 

But. I love having a Word of the Year. I’ve had one for eight years now, and each one has impacted me. Some more than others. And as the years have passed, I’ve become more intentional in my pursuit of God to see what He has for me, relative to that word. I awaken to the word’s use in what I read and sing and hear. I seek it out in Scripture, as well as in books and blogs by trusted authors. I create playlists based on the word’s themes so I can further immerse myself in its truths. I even journal about the lessons learned and have written a blog series on all the Words of the Year I’ve ever had.

Words like communicate, my first Word of the Year back in 2015. I had assumptions about how God would use that word in my life, and it looked nothing like I expected. Turns out He wanted me to slow down and, literally, communicate better–with Him, with my husband, with my sons, with co-workers and friends. My year with communicate was simple. But much needed.

Or the year anchor anchored itself in my heart and mind. To this day (four years later), the word pops when I hear it and jumps when I see it. So I pause. I notice. I take-in whatever might help me grow and mature as a believer. 

And, many of you were around last year as I journeyed with joy. I dug. I researched. I poured over Scripture. I shared it with friends. I created a blog series on it. I found it in places I wasn’t looking for it. Even now, I persist in learning more about joy as it continues to weave itself in and out of my readings and conversations. 

This week, however, I had a pastor-friend challenge me on this whole Word of the Year practice. Basically, to avoid the trite, trendy, and trivial. AND, most importantly, to refrain from relying on my word but, rather, on God’s Word. Amen! Challenge taken!

My Word for 2022

In November of last year, I got to be part of an amazing team that put together a Women’s Retreat called Flourish. And while our focus tended toward all things flora–soil, seeds, plants, and fruit–the truer message of the weekend was that of abiding, of learning what it means to abide in Christ.

As one of the speakers, I spent a lot of weeks in preparation for my part of the weekend and in conversation with the other speakers as we crafted these conversations and sought truths of abiding that we could pass on. I left that weekend with a sense of knowing that my searching had only begun–that God, in fact, was calling me into an abiding posture with Him. As I prayed about what that looked like for the near future, the word dwell kept coming up–in my thoughts, in songs, in Scripture, in Bible studies. I started circling it and noting it in my journal till it dawned on me. My 2022 Word of the Year is DWELL!

Once the decision was made, the word continued to make appearances in everything I was seeing and doing. Dwell was the very first entry in a new and gorgeous book I’d just begun by Ruth Chou Simons called Gracelaced. It adorned titles of Advent posts about Immanuel coming to dwell among us. It came up over and over again in my Advent study of Hebrews. If ever I doubted dwell as my new Word of the Year, I doubt no longer. I embrace it! And just as in 2021, I’m opening the New Year with a blog series based on my new word.

And, to go along with my word is God’s Word for me for 2022:

Psalm 91:1-2, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

It’s actually the very first passage that came to mind as I thought about the word dwell, so to turn to it in the Psalms and see not only the word itself but its partner, abide, as well as a past Word of the Year, trust, I knew this was the passage. I looked no further.

A page right out of Ruth Chou Simons’ book, Gracelaced

Come, Dwell With Me

I don’t know your opinion of the whole Word of the Year craze, so I’m not asking you to choose one for yourself. That’s truly between you and God. But, what I am doing is inviting you along for this next series–this next opportunity to go deeper with God and others who desire to do the same. Come, dwell with me. Haha. That just sounds wrong. Because you won’t, obviously, dwell with me. The whole point of this sojourn into the Word is to learn to better DWELL WITH GOD. 

This New Year jaunt will take us on a meandering journey through Old Testament passages that show us what it looked like for the people of God to dwell on earth long ago and for God to dwell among them. Then we’ll turn our sights to the New Testament to witness the huge transition of God’s way of dwelling with us, His people. All this uncovering of the way of dwelling will help us find our path into God’s shelter, His shadow. We’ll better dwell with Him–on good days and bad. And in our dwelling in His presence, we’ll find a peace, a hope, and a joy that we can find nowhere else. Only with Him.

And, maybe the most beautiful part of all this exploring will be our grasp, our deeper understanding, that as we dwell with Him, He dwells with us. With that bit of magnificent truth, I’ll send you off with a Word containing a word from our recent Advent series, which pairs well with this very promise. From Jesus to you:

“Behold, I am with you always.” Matthew 28:20 

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  • Next week our Dwell series begins. We’re going to do a deep dive into what it looks like to INHABIT. Don’t miss a post by following my blog–just fill in your email! Or follow me on Instagram.
    • And–invite a friend to be part of all our searching and learning and growing by either sending them a link to this site or by forwarding this post from email. I know this deep dive into dwell is one we’ll all want to be part of.
  • I mentioned Ruth Chou Simons’ book, Gracelaced,* a couple of times. I have no words to describe its beauty–artistically and heartfully. It’s a hardback book that’s an investment financially and spiritually, taking readers slowly through an entire year of thoughtful readings and reflection prompts. Each section focuses on each season and what God holds for you there. I’m only in Winter, but–oh my! And, the deluxe edition* is on sale… I have it. It’s GORGEOUS. Makes my eyes and heart happy. 🙂
  • I’ll have the new Dwell Playlist ready next week!
  • While there are Word of the Year Websites designed to help you identify a word for your year, I highly recommend a more personal approach–sitting with God and asking Him. You may not hear His response right away, but as you listen and look and read His Word, He’ll give it to you. But, truly. Feel no pressure to adopt a Word of the Year. No FOMO here!! 😉 😉 Like my friend, JD Walt said, what’s more important is the Word of God!!

Featured Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash
*denotes an affiliate link, where if purchases are made, I’d earn a little in return. 😉

Published by Shelley Linn Johnson

Lover of The Word. And words. Cultivator of curiosity about all things Christ. Lifelong learner who likes inviting others along for the journey. Recovering perfectionist who has only recently realized that rhythms are so much better than stress-inducing must-do's.

14 thoughts on “This Year I’m Gonna Dwell

    1. Such great focuses!! I’m developing and strength my gratitude muscles, as well, and I anticipate the dwell will be a lot about abiding. I hope you’ll share what you’ve learned! Do you have a passage to lead you in encouraging others?

      1. I have a pastor friend who developed a series around Hebrews 3:13, all about what it looks like to encourage one another that inspired and challenged me. So that passage popped in my mind when you said encourage.

  1. I’m so excited about this new blog you’re doing. A word of the year for me started with your encouragement about 3 or 4 years ago. Of course I had to have “joy” 2 years in a row and last year my word was “hope” which I know God knew I needed! This year my word is very different and has presented itself in some unusual ways. “Maranatha”! Not a word found directly in the Bible, but a word meaning: “Come Jesus come”! I’m excited to see where it leads.

    As I read your blog this morning though I love “dwell” and a past study with Kelly Minter brought to mind God dwelling with me in a cleft of a rock!! I remember that having a huge impact on me! I’ll be thinking on that a little more today. Sorry for such a long comment. ❤️

    1. Love your comment!!! Yes, there really is something exciting about hearing a word for the year from God–it gives such anticipation and expectancy! I hope you’ll share how maranatha moves into your life this year!

  2. I have not had a word for the year before, yet wanted one, FOMO😬 The other morning I woke up after a feverish night (thanks to Covid or flu).😷 My prayer to the Lord brought to mind the word “immediately” I tried to brushed it off saying I don’t think an adverb is right for word of the year, then I had a follow up thought of “at once” blared at me. I am still not sure why these two thoughts or what is my final decision for word choice. But whatever the word I am thinking I must respond “immediately” 🤣 Shelley, I love your word choice “Dwell” and I have also seen it’s appearance in quite a bit in my readings. So, I will be following along with anticipation to see what our Father reveals to you this year! thank you for sharing your heart.❤️

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