It’s always a matter of sorting isn’t it. Keep or discard. “Touch it once,” my friend once advised. Dump or recycle.
It feels like sorting through stacks of paper on your dining room table or desk. Each pile representing a chapter of your life — experiences, life-events, failures, successes, new seasons, deaths, births, sickness and health, relationships, birthdays, family gatherings, pain and sorrow, joy and laughter.
Then, lo and behold, there appeared a set of empty file folders labeled, “2020” on the side table — fresh and clean — anticipating the new material filled with stories of the new year.
But there’s a crucial area between the dining room table and the side table and that’s where you and I stand at the end of the old year and the beginning of the new year. It’s a space of grace between 2019’s table of contents and 2020’s yet-to-be-written stories.
If you’re like me, you’re overwhelmed just looking at the whole mess. Fully aware of the fact that no one has come up with a hand strong enough to hold back the new year from arriving until we’re “ready” for it, you and I both know we’ve got to plow through and move on with the seasons …like it or not.
Let’s declare January as a grace month to transition.
Have a trash can ready and start with one pile at a time. Every other day or so, go through the stories, the feelings, the emotions, the responses, the experiences, the lessons from each chapter. In each “pile,” decide what is worth keeping? What life-lessons, responses, perspectives, habits, rhythms are worth carrying over into the folders for the new year? And what pages need to be left behind …edited out of the continuing script.
Finish that first pile and stop for coffee. Sit. Rest. Don’t let regret or shame sit with you. Be thankful for every experience that gave insight into who you are and the places you’re still growing into a healthier version of you.
Don’t be afraid to look at the not-so-good stuff. It won’t bite you but don’t let it subtly slip into next year like a sneaky cat. (My grandson and I have a mutual fear of sneaky cats.)
Since I wouldn’t ask you to do anything I wouldn’t do myself , here’s a small sampling of things I want to “leave” in 2019 and “love” into 2020.
Resentment — the tapes I kept replaying in my head — poisonous ones. Those need to be burned like the Mission Impossible tapes back in the day …”Your mission, should you decide to accept it,” along with, “This tape will self-destruct in 5 seconds. Good luck,” Joy. That’s what needs to happen to my resentment rehearsal tapes.
Anxiety about parking in parking garages, backing up , and things like that …
Offense. Letting the words and opinions of others carry so much weight only weighs me down. I’m left with a hurt I actually inflicted on myself! It also reveals pride and insecurity …both of which I need to leave behind as well!
“In 2019, I learned that sometimes you can’t side-hustle your way into the life you want. Sometimes you have to surrender it. Sometimes you have to give up in order to reclaim the essential thing at the heart of it all.” From an Instagram post by Addie Zierman
What to love enough to carry into the new year…
Walking it out with Jesus — That’s been life-giving to me at so many levels …physically, spiritually and emotionally. It clears my brain, refreshes my body and soul and gives opportunity for God to show up along the way through people as well as creation.
Morning Pages — My son, Ben, put me on to Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist Way in which she challenges you to write 3 pages every morning as soon as you wake up (and grab your coffee, of course) to unclutter your mind…a kind of “brain dump” writing exercise, as she describes. I’m both hooked and inspired by this and her writing has encouraged me to move deeper into the kind of artist God has made me to be. And just in case you’re dismissing that right away because you think you’re not a painter or poet, it’s so much more than that. It’s about being who the Great Creator created you to be… whatever that may be. Try it. You’ll like it. I promise!
Letting go of …control, the need to fix people OR things, the perfect life I’ve tried to create, obsessing over so many things (too many things to obsess over trying to recount them here). While this may sound like a “leave behind” item, it’s actually a discipline I need to carry into every year, most likely. Alas, whether I like it or not, it seems to be a “thing” to “love” into the new year.
Intentional Time with Family and close friends — I’m more passionate than ever that I need time with my family and that core of close friends to be healthy and whole. This is my tribe. We have to stick close to carry each other through until we get to the other side. This is non-negotiable and every investment I make is and investment worthwhile …always a significant ROI.
As I was walking it out with Jesus the other day, this song began playing over and over in my head and I realized of all the “things” I want to carry with me into the New Year, this is the deeper longing and desire of my heart …to take the name of Jesus with me wherever I go. I’ve found Him to be my only true hope and the anchor for my soul in every chapter, every story, and every year of my life.
Take the name of Jesus with you,
Child of sorrow and of woe.
It will joy and comfort give you,
Take it then where’er you go.
Precious name, O how sweet!
Hope of earth and joy of heaven;
Precious name, O how sweet!
Hope of earth and joy of heaven.
My One Word for 2020 …coming soon.