After Christmas and New Year’s Day, we celebrate the Epiphany at my church by selecting our Star Words for the year. Since I’m a great believer in the power of language, I look forward to finding out what my word will be for the new year. I’ve had lovely Star Words in previous years, such as “perception” and “individuality.”
As I walked up to the table at church where the Star Words were placed face down, I wondered what creative, challenging, inspiring word would be my focus for 2018. As I walked back to my pew and turned over the paper star, I saw my word:
The word scared me. Did it mean I was going to see tough times? Or that I would have to be tough to survive? Our pastor reminded us not to overthink our Star Words, so when I got home, I put mine under a stack of papers on my desk, so it couldn’t escape.
My mental state at that time no doubt contributed to my fear. A few days before that church service, I had received a diagnosis of anxiety and depression. I was relieved to be able to understand the reasons for the symptoms that have plagued me since I was a kid.
I felt a little braver after a few weeks of prescription medication and my first appointment with my counselor. So I took another look at my Star Word.
I read definitions:
“Strong enough to withstand adverse conditions or rough or careless handling,” Like everyone, I’ve seen my share of adverse conditions and careless handling — in my case, years of pain and bewilderment from the lack of awareness of mental illness in children.
“Strong or firm in texture but flexible and not brittle.” I’m getting stronger — yes, tougher. But I pray for a softened heart and open mind.
Tough. It sounds less like a harsh threat and more like a pat on the back for living and learning through the challenges. So now my Star Word is held by a magnet on our refrigerator door. I can’t wait to see what it teaches me this year.