Word for the New Year: Love

cast-iron heart - photo by Drazen Nesic on Pixnio

As we begin a new year, I pray, as I do every year, for God to reveal to me something he’d like me to meditate on in the coming year. What does God want me to learn? And where does he want me to grow?

In past years, God has revealed joy (2022) and fearless (2023) to me as words for my year. And I see how he has taught me to go deeper into the mystery of the Gospel as I learned how to express joy, even in the midst of sorrow, and then to be fearless, depending completely on God.

This year, the word is clear: love.

I say this word all the time. I love coffee and tacos, my husband, and also my friend’s dog. Of course, I love God. But with such varied uses of the word, I do not know what love truly means.

I know what it is to love someone or something that equally delights in me. My husband is always kinder, more attentive, and more loving to me than I am to him. It is easy to love him. The same is true for my friend’s dog that seems to be over the moon to see me every time I show up.

I suppose I first noticed a different kind of love when I had children. They could do nothing for me, offer me nothing, and yet, I would die for these boys. I work endlessly to feed them and keep them safe and happy. They are now teenagers and the sweetest of teens, but they are sometimes annoying or rude, and yet, I still love them. I would move mountains for them.

My enemies? Not so much. They are more than annoying. They actively penalize me for my kindness towards them. They have gotten me fired from jobs, spread gossip about me, and made the communities I move within difficult.

And yet, I am called to love them. I am not called just to tolerate them or be polite. I have no idea what it looks like to love an enemy. I think this is why my word is love this year, so that I can step deeper into the mystery of love with Jesus.

We know the Scripture passage on love from 1 Corinthians that is often read at weddings, but what about applying it to enemies?

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. (1 Corinthians 13:4–8a)

St. Paul points us to know true love is otherworldly. Not all love is the same. Real love comes from God.

I have no idea where God is going to take me this year as I meditate on love. I know I will learn the depths of its definition, and I will learn to practice it better, especially with my enemies. And I must believe that this real love is truly transformative. This is the Gospel.

I cannot do this on my own. I must depend on God to show me the way. I am expecting miracles.

Photo by Drazen Nesic on Pixnio.

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Shemaiah Gonzalez
Shemaiah Gonzalez is a freelance writer who holds a B.A. in English Literature and a M.A. in Intercultural Ministry. She thrives on moments where storytelling, art, and faith collide. Published on Busted Halo and America Magazine among others, she is obsessed with being well-rounded as she jumps from Victorian lit to Kendrick Lamar, from the homeless shelter to the cocktail party. A Los Angeles native, she now lives in Seattle with her husband and their two sons.


  1. Dear Shemaiah,
    I liked your ending sentence. I AM EXPECTING MIRACLES . I pray for myself and my fellow beings, let the WORD we CHOOSE lead us into the true meaning Jesus wants to reveal to us in his MERCY.

    It’s an interesting mysterious revelation as we Dig in deep.

  2. It would be wonderful if we could authentically “love” everyone on the planet without conditions, exceptions, color of skin, gender, financial disposition, where they live, where they went to school, what kind of job they have, what foods they eat or not eat, where their country of origin is, what political party(ies) they represent, whether they protect the environment or not, whether they are your neighbor or not……

    I find it increasingly disappointing that “love” is thrown around by those who profess to love God and who are against everyone who does not look like them, talk like them. This is a legacy which the church has passed down and continues to thrive upon. How devastating this is. History will not remember us very kindly for allowing this to continue without challenge….

  3. Thank you so much for this reflection! You can’t possibly know how perfectly it echoes many of my own issues, feelings, emote, etc. it’s almost as if you read my own mind.

    I don’t know either where God will take me this year, but I believe He is showing me that my word for this year is TRUST.

    May He bless us both this year with his continual love and guidance.



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