The Public Has Spoken!
I’m a pushover for useless trivia so when the top dictionaries announced their word of the year I was excited to hear the news. The public has spoken and this year Merriam-Webster chose gaslighting (a gross psychological misleading). Dictionary.com chose woman (an adult female person in case you didn’t already know this 🤪), and Oxford Dictionary chose Goblin Mode (a type of behavior that is “apologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, or greedy”).
Word of the Year selections are data-driven. In other words, they’re chosen by the largest number of people who searched for that term throughout the year. The “big” announcement got me thinking. What words did I do a google search for a lot this year? Hmmm…
Boujee? Totes? Drama queen? Web MD-ing? Shiplap (thank you Chip and Joanna)? Fondant (thank you Food Network)? Gen Alpha? Metaverse? Yes to all of them. But…if I had to pick a word that was on my mind and in my heart the most this year it would be…
Immanuel [ ih-man-yoo-uhl ]
First, an explanation of its meaning…
I chuckled when I looked this word up in the Merriam-Webster dictionary. The meaning is a little like “Yoda-Speak” (remember Yoda and his “backward” language?) Careful you must be. Much to learn, you still have. Patience you must have.
With us is God is the literal Hebrew translation for Immanuel. Kind of Yoda-ish, right? I digress…
Throughout Old and New Testament Scripture we are assured of God’s promise of never leaving us. Immanuel-God with us (how we commonly hear it said here in the West) is the promise God gave to the Israelites, and it’s still His promise for all of us who believe in Him today.
“My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Exodus 33:14 ESV
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 ESV
“The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save;” Zephaniah 3:17a ESV
“And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20b ESV
“I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5 b ESV
“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper to e with you forever.” John 14:16 ESV
There’s no need for us to feel lonely, invisible, discounted, or forgotten. He sees us. He knows us. He is with us. We are never alone.
Now that I’ve shared the meaning with you, let me explain why Immanuel is my personal Word of the Year…
First a story…
Since Thanksgiving “Home Alone” has aired on TV multiple times. While the antics of would-be robbers Marv Murchins and Harry Lime and the ingenious ways Kevin foils their plans are hilarious, there is one scene from the original movie that is my favorite. It’s when Mrs. McCallister realizes that her son isn’t on the plane with the rest of the family. This is the famous scene where she yells “Kevin!” As a mother, I can relate to being frazzled, overwhelmed, forgetful, and panicked! In the movie Mrs McCallister, like most moms, does everything she can possibly think of to get back to Kevin.
Just in case you need a little “Home Alone” refresh this is what she did:
- She calls Kevin at home as soon as the plane lands (but the phone lines are down).
- She sends the police to the house (but no one answers the door).
- She trades her jewelry and other items with an elderly couple to get their ticket and then she heads back to the U.S. on her own.
- After arriving in Pennsylvania, she has a meltdown (click on the link for another great movie clip) when a ticket agent tells her there are no more tickets left for a flight to Chicago.
- She then accepts a ride with a friendly polka bandleader named Gus Polinski.
- Gus, and the rest of the polka band, take her safely back to Chicago where she is finally reunited with Kevin.
I’d do everything in my power to get back to my child too. Immanuel-God with us-is the same. There’s nothing He won’t do to get back to us.
Now my backstory…
Although I grew up in a home that knew about God, I didn’t have a personal relationship with him. To me religion was rules, and rules without a relationship, equals rebellion. And that’s what I did. I rebelled. For years (and I mean years!) I did things on my own. I lived with little thought of the future. I didn’t know my worth. I was insecure and anxious. I suffered from an eating disorder. I shut people out of my life. I was holding onto past emotional baggage. I was lost and needed rescuing.
Just like Kevin’s mom, God didn’t give up on me. He did everything He could to “get back to me” (He hadn’t gone anywhere-I did!). He didn’t force himself on me (He never does). He gently used people to do His work for Him (He does this a lot).
In 2001, He intentionally arranged for key people to come into my life and tell me about a better way. These people told me that I didn’t need to figure things out on my own, that I was created with and for a purpose, that there was Someone who would counsel me and help me figure things out. Someone who would fight my battles for me. Someone who would bring me peace. Someone who would encourage me. Someone who would listen to me. Someone who would validate me. And, most importantly, Someone who would never leave me.
Over time, with much reflection, and a curiosity to know more about Him, I surrendered to His will for my life. And, just like Kevin and his mom, He and I were reunited.
I’m never alone. If you’ve put your trust in Him then you’re never alone either. The God of creation lives in you and me. By His grace and mercy He’s always ready, willing, and able to:
- comfort us
- guide us
- enable us
- teach us
- strengthen us
- encourage us
Truth be told, Immanuel isn’t just my Word of the Year for only this year. It’s been my Word of the Year for the past 21 years. He is, and will always be, my Immanuel.
Christmas All Year Round
Here’s a great reminder for us: Immanuel is with us all year round, not just in November and December (when we start to hear the famous song asking Him to come and ransom captive Israel). That’s right. He’s with us in spring, summer, fall, and winter-every day of the year! And while I’m on the subject…let’s get into the habit of doing some of the activities that we do in December all year round too. Activities like:
- Visiting friends and relatives
- Writing notes
- Serving others
- Donating our time, talents, and our treasures
- Smiling and laughing
- Singing and dancing
- Gathering around a table
Let’s not pack up our Christmas spirit (our joy, generosity, and love) on December 26 and revert back to our everyday actions and mindset. Let’s keep the Christmas spirit all year long-January through December!
Before I go, I’d love for you to reflect on these three questions:
- Have you experienced Immanuel – God with you?
- How is your life different (or could be different) with the Truth that God is with you?
- What does the title Immanuel reveal about the character of Jesus?
Send me a note and let me know your answers if you’re up for it. As always, I’d love to hear from you!
And finally, thank you for letting me land in your inbox every now and then this past year! Merry Christmas from my home to yours! May God bless you richly throughout the coming year.
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