My word was STRESS, and I must admit it was very hard to give up. Being at a conference where I was away from the stresses that affect my life made giving up stress easier. However once I got back into the “real world”, STRESS was right back again, as if it never left. For me, trying and changing are two different things. I can always “try”, it is the “changing” that’s hard. In a supportive, small environment it is possible to have much greater success in changing things than when I don’t have outside influences. Once I lose that safety net, it becomes so much more difficult. But that’s when I have to remember to “Let go and let God”, and when I do fail, I can pick myself up and thank God for his presence and help. I am not alone in this and I can’t do it without God’s help.

Kerry, Seattle


It’s amazing how easily it is to give up the use of self-deprecating words when you identify them and think on them for a bit. I haven’t called myself an idiot once and, since I know I am not an idiot, I am left to ponder why I ever got in that habit. Identifying one word like this seems to be making me more aware of how I present myself.

Frances, Richmond, VA


I have found life more painful than joyful. I understand Thomas Merton once saying, “Suffering is the core of my existence.” Yet, Jesus said he came that we might have life, even a joyful life. So, while giving up the word painful was difficult, it was possible to give it up for a week. Life still has its challenges, but in giving up one word I have embraced another word in its place: forgiveness. By forgiving others, and most of all myself, life has become more joyful and less….
Ed, MD


2 weeks ago I gave up the word “busy.” I picked this word because, as a priest, I am busy during Lent. I am busy with planning, leading worship, sitting in meetings, going to conferences, complaining to colleagues, etc. Like many who work for a living, while balancing a family, I am busy. But, I notice that when I hear people (including myself) say, “I’m busy” I cringe. What makes me so important that I am THIS busy? Or, what am I hiding from–or running from–because I am this busy.

On Thursday, March 15th suddenly my world was flipped upside down. A panicky message from my mother-in-law said, “We think Stan (my father-in-law) has had a stroke. He’s in an ambulance on the way to the hospital.” When my husband and I arrived at the hospital, his family waiting inside, we found Stan unconscious, having suffered a massive brain bleed. The neurosurgeon was called, the Chaplain brought down to the ER. Time stood still. I couldn’t feel my legs, let alone remember what was on the calendar for tomorrow. Upon hearing that I was a priest, the Chaplain left us (Not feeling superhuman, I found this incredibly unhelpful).

For the next 2 and a half days we alternated between the ICU, ICU waiting area and home for short, restless sleep. Many friends gathered and kept the vigil with us. Thankful for technology, we could text, call and e-mail family members, friends and parishioners for prayers and support. But everything on our schedule melted away. We were no longer busy, rather living hour to hour. There were tears, laughter and stories–alongside grief and exhaustion. One day at a time turned into one hour at a time. On St. Patrick’s day Stan died at 3:38pm, while many of us gathered around the window waiting for a rainbow to appear after the sudden spring shower. Because we so ached for a sign; to feel Stan and God’s presence. And because there is usually gold at the end of a rainbow.

Nearly a week has passed and I have not used the word busy. It just doesn’t seem fitting. I want to replace the word busy with “full.” Instead of seeking to fill my life with things and people to busy myself and feel useful and needed, I hope that I can see my life for the fullness that it is. Instead of the distant hope of what will come, I seek to feel gratitude for each moment I have here. This isn’t easy, but this past week and a half has taught me that I have control over very little in my own life…and hardly any control over the life of others. Yet, I believe God does. I believe that God isn’t too busy to care for us and to ask us to care for each other. To feel full is to feel alive. I am thankful for this gift today.

Emily, Louisville, KY

Stories from the Curator

From the Collector – I have been asking lots of people:

“May I ask you a question?” … “Yes”

“If you could give up a single word for a week that would improve your life what would it be?”
If examples are requested I say, “Like have-to, should, can’t is the most popular to date.”

The taxi driver to the airport thought he should give up “What the F” which is what he usually starts his day with because of carpal tunnel in his arm that prevents him from playing his beloved guitar.

The woman on the plane sitting next me wrestled with whether she should give up “Hate” or “Vodka” and settled on “Hate.

On my return the young man at the car rental check out is giving up “Can’t” because he thinks that will help him be more motivated and ambitious.

The young engineer, self-described geek, in the security line behind me at the airport me is giving up “Yes.

The waitress at the airport restaurant said she would like to give up “Stop” because that is what she says to her young son all the time. But she worried if she gave up “Stop” she might slap her son instead and then said that she really needed a short vacation.

Let us know what words you have given up. Let us know how you have used giveupaWORD. Many thanks.


I gave up the word ‘God’ after seeing another person on this site do the same. It called to me very strongly because I felt that I’d been using the word too much to add validity or certainty to my statements. “God is calling me…” became “I felt called to….” I did this for more than a week, because it took me a while to really get to the root of my issue. In reality, over the past year, I had allowed a number of things that weren’t ‘of God’ to become ‘of God’ for me. What I was feeling called to do was to stop obsessing over things like the church as an institution, over my finances and work as part of God’s will, over my future. It was my time to remove the money changers from the temple and to let God’s real presence be the whole of my focus in prayer.

Rick, NC


Technically, I did not give up the word, regret. I didn’t say it out loud, but I found myself repeating it over and over internally. And it was difficult because I was stirring up all the emotions of regret. It has been important and helpful, though emotionally draining, to not necessarily reexamine the cause of regrets, but the place the regret now takes in my life. And the timing is just right as a sort of anniversary of one regret is upon me. My struggle and hope during this process has been to put regret in its place and not let it define me or shape my future, because it is oh, so tempting to do so. I made a list of all the life-giving, positive things I have done over the year, I highlighted the goodness in relationships I have, and I thought about how I have been held by God through it all. I did not see regret there. I saw beautiful things, and that, I think is how I shall define myself, regrets or no.

Rosemary, MA


On the not so good side, it took me less than a day to fail. I damned the computer. On the plus side making a public pledge to not to use the word “damn”, has been very helpful in making be aware that I should not be using the word, and I do stop when I think about that.
My family says that when I get very mad, I am scary as I am loudly damning computers and software.
Luckily, I can’t remember the last time I spewed “damn” at a person, and just “damn” inanimate objects.




My life is full of people, including dear friends, but death and divorce have swept away my family. As a result, holidays can be excruciatingly lonely. I’ve tried ignoring Thanksgiving by volunteering to work that day. I’ve tried marginalizing Christmas with movies and Chinese take-out. But I know that I am just trying to avoid dealing with the loss. No more. As I prepare for Easter, I am purging “lonely” from my vocabulary. Instead, I am embracing words like “Sabbath” and “Renewal” that represent a new, different kind of holiday joy. My holidays may not look like most other people’s holidays, but at least they won’t be co-opted this year. Instead, I am going to really focus on a particular Guest, who’s been waiting for my focused attention for far too long!


Not Now

When something unforeseen, unprepared for happens, my first reaction is “please God, not now” – that whatever it is that has occurred is one thing too many. I could maybe deal with it later, but “not now.’” Yet the demand has been made on me because God wants it to be made right then, and to say “not now” is to turn away some moment of grace that has been given specially to me. How thoughtless, how rude it seems to say “not now” to God’s gift. So I am teaching myself to say instead “please God, give me a hand with this.”