Floey came bounding down the stairs, ran over to my desk, and sat down on the floor right next to me. “Good morning, Floey,” I said.
“Good morning, Mom. Is it time yet?” Floey asked.
“Yes. I think the time has finally come, Floey. Are you ready to talk about our special words for next year?”
“I sure am. I’ve been thinking about this for months. I don’t think I chose a very good word to focus on for 2016. I want to do better this year. Do you remember what I chose last year?”
“I sure do, Floey. You chose MEOW. You wanted to learn to communicate better with the cats in the neighborhood, and you thought learning their language would help.”
“Yeah. But it didn’t work very well. The neighborhood cats all disappeared. I think they were afraid to come out in the cold last January, and then they just turned into lazy house cats, and they didn’t come out much in the nice weather either.”
“That’s right, and by August I think you decided to adopt my special word of KINDNESS to use as your special word for the rest of the year. Was that better?”
“It was better, but I never really felt committed to that word. That was your word, not mine. So I’ve been thinking and thinking and thinking to come up with a better word for 2017.”
“What did you come up with?”
“I kept thinking about a rather unpleasant conversation we had one day last summer. You said I was stubborn. And you said it in such a way I knew you thought it wasn’t good to be stubborn. I think our disagreement was all about taking time to sit at a curb before crossing a street, and then to sit again on the other side. Sometimes, I just don’t want to take the time to sit down, and to do it twice at every intersection seems like overkill. I just don’t see the point. Anyway, during that conversation you called me stubborn and you suggested that I should find a word that’s the opposite of stubborn to have as my special word for next year. Do you remember that?”
“I kind of remember.”
“Well I remember the conversation very well. I don’t like us to have disagreements. So I’ve thought a lot about opposites of stubborn. I came up with words like compliant, submissive, weak, yielding, and complacent. Those aren’t inspiring words at all.”
“I can see that, Floey. But couldn’t you come up with anything more positive that’s an opposite of stubborn?” I asked.
“Well, it took a while, but I finally did. I thought about words like willing, flexible, broad-minded, giving, and kind. And then it hit me. I thought of the word FRIEND. I want to focus on being a FRIEND. A friend is someone who doesn’t insist on getting their own way. Sometimes they will get their own way, but more importantly, they will think about what’s best for everyone, which may or may not be their own way. They will do what’s best for the other person just as much, or maybe even more than what’s best for themselves. So, for 2017, my special word is FRIEND.”
Doris and her caregiver Abbey were best friends.
“That’s a great word, Floey. And it’s so appropriate! Have you heard the old saying that ‘dog is man’s best friend’? The language of the expression could be cleaned up a little to make it more gender neutral, but the sentiment is true.”
“I’m sure FRIEND is going to be a great word for me to think about all year. I think that by the end of the year I’ll know how to be the best FRIEND that anyone could possibly have. I’m so excited!”
“That’s wonderful, Floey.”
“How about you, Mom? What’s your new word going to be?”
“I’m pretty excited about my new word, too, Floey. It’s HOPE. My special word for 2017 is HOPE.”
“I guess that’s a good word, Mom. But what made you choose HOPE?”
“I have a really good reason for choosing it, Floey. HOPE is probably what I will need more than anything else in 2017. You see, after the presidential election last November, I was depressed, and I was really scared. In the past, sometimes I’ve been disappointed with the results of a presidential election, but I’ve never been really afraid of what might happen under the charge of the new president. But this time is different. I have no confidence in his competence or his integrity. I am afraid that he might carelessly do something that will result in economic or physical harm or even death to millions of people – both in this country and around the globe. You and me included. Like I said, I’m really scared. I sure HOPE I’m wrong. I HOPE that he truly wants to lead the country in good ways that will benefit all Americans as well as the rest of the world. And I HOPE that his unorthodox ways will lead to positive results. I need to give him a chance to be successful. I need to have HOPE.”
“Wow, Mom. That’s pretty serious. I knew the election was a big deal, but I didn’t think it would affect us personally. That’s scary.”
“Yeah, I know. That’s why I need to have HOPE this year. Sarah Young (the writer of the daily devotional book Jesus Calling) has written several other books in the same style – as though Jesus is speaking to us directly. In one of these books, Young quotes Jesus as saying,
Though difficulties abound in this world, rejoice that I am ever present with you. I can enable you to cope with any and all circumstances, strengthening you as you look trustingly to Me. No matter how hopeless your situation may seem, I assure you that all things are possible with Me…. [Jesus Lives: Seeing His Love in Your Life, p. 102]
“Young then cites Psalm 46:2 as assurance that God is really with us, helping us.
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
“Young went on to reference Mark 10:27:
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.
“You know, Floey, I think the Bible has a lot to say about HOPE, and I plan to look into that this year, and hopefully I will become more hopeful about everything that’s going on in our world these days.”
Floey sighed and said, “Boy, Mom, we both have high expectations for our special words this year. Do you know what Mim’s new word is? I wonder if she’s decided on one yet.”
“Here she comes, Floey. Let’s ask her. Hey, Mim, come join us. We’re talking about our special words for 2017. Have you chosen your new word yet?”
“I sure have. It’s HOPE,” she replied as she sat down with us.
“Hey, that’s my word,” I exclaimed. “You can’t have my word!”
“I certainly can! I’ve thought a lot about it, and I need to focus on HOPE this year. I’m going to turn 70 this summer, and I need to keep hoping that some of the changes I’m anticipating over the next few years will work out for the best. Even though I tend to worry, I need to remember that ultimately, God is in control. That gives me HOPE. That’s what I need to focus on – not worrying about the challenges and changes that are ahead in my life.”
Floey looked from one mom to the other and said, “I can’t believe my moms are arguing over their special words for 2017!”
“You’re right, Floey. I guess I can share my word. Mim, I came across a benediction a few days ago that might be a good start for both of us in our focus on HOPE this year.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. [Romans 15:13 NIV]
“Hey, I like that. Thanks for sharing it,” Mim responded.
Floey jumped up and trotted over to the patio door. “I think we’re all set. I’m going to learn everything there is to know about becoming a true FRIEND this year, and both of you are going to learn how to be more HOPEFUL. So, we’re ready. Time to go for a walk.”