My cursor will not quit blinking. I’m just sitting here blinking back at it. For the last few days, I have tried to muster up…something. Words, instructions, a list. Something for you all during this crazy blogging season that is the New Year. Organization or goal setting. Hmm. Blink. Blink.
I had grand plans for the blog this month. Budgeting help, organization for your real life, book lists. The whole thing. But then life. Work, kids, a dear family friend’s funeral, ministry, dinner. Life happened.
And what I realized is that it is ok. It’s ok for me and it’s ok for you.
I love the New Year. I love the fresh start. The feeling and anticipation that I can finally accomplish all the things. I’m a planner addict. Addicted to the theories of planning. The practice? Meh. I like to think I’m better at it than I really am.
So I’m sitting here reflecting and actually laughed at this sentence that popped into my head.
I am better at life than I used to be.
Or at least the life I want to lead.
I used to be more productive, I think. When I was home in Texas over Christmas, I got the joy-filled experience of going through the 15 boxes of my childhood room. My parents moved when I was in college and those boxes have been in a storage container for almost 17 years.
We had lived in the same house my whole life. 22 years of my life in that space. It was painful to move. We mourned. Maybe we still do. But this last week going through those boxes after not touching them for 16 years, there was a lot of laughs and tears at the treasure trove of my life.
However, there was one interesting theme that kept popping up. How the heck did I do all that? My sister kept laughing and shaking her head at the certificates and articles and items documenting ALL THE THINGS I used to do. She asked my mom if all they did was follow me around in high school.
When I think back on those years, I have to apologize. I loved high school. Like really loved it. At the same time some of the most painful times of my life are wrapped in those years. Loss, death, cancer. Experiences that have deeply shaped who I am.
That capsule of my life molded me into the productive, capable, hard working, earn my place girl, that I was for much of my young adult life. All or nothing. That has always been a struggle of mine. In its rightful place, it’s effective. It’s amazing. It’s committed. In its weakness, it’s failure waiting to happen.
It’s gluttony, it’s busyness, it’s addiction, it’s doing everything or doing nothing.
It’s not the way to get better at life. Success isn’t productivity and winning. Success for me now is the space between the bottom and the top. It’s the getting better part. That’s the piece I missed.
The growth happens in between.
As life got harder, because it just does the older you get, this practice of mine has not bode well. It’s led to really bad habits. I talked here about how I walk the slippery slope. If I can’t be 100% healthy, I’ll head to McDonald’s. If I can’t be fully disciplined in having time with God everyday, I will hide and run away instead.
In fact, looking back, this theme shows up in several of my posts.
Anyway, the point is, I still have this tendency. If you follow me at all, I apologize for the redundancy, but you know I am a recovered Dr. Pepper addict. Like 5-6 a day kind of thing. I drank my last one on Jan 1, 2017 and didn’t touch another one until 3 days ago on Jan 1, 2018. But this time, I did it with a plan. This one day I can drink it, then the next day I start a Whole30. It’s a built in all or nothing.
*Please note that I’m gently poking at myself here. Not comparing soda to alcohol or drugs or other devastating addictions.
I have learned that there are some areas of my life that I have to all or nothing it. I need drastic measures. Whole30 sounded like my nightmare, but I know I needed a super structure. Because me and moderation do not work well together.
So how does that fit into being better at life? First, I know myself. I know and have finally been honest about what I am good at, and what I’m not so good at. What my REAL life is like, not my ideal one. That one is key. The whole being honest thing.
You knew I was headed there. Of course I am. Why? Because it’s true, and I needed to hear it again.
You see as I age oh so gracefully I’m sure, I’m learning the reality of being kind to myself. I am a shame sucker, like a dang vacuum for it sometimes. So the truth of the message of the God I follow is simple. I am as bad as all those things I wallow in. But I am set free from them. Jesus set me free from them and they do NOT define me. They are not me.
I am not a terrible wife. I sin and act selfishly in my marriage. I am not a horrible mother. I sin and make mistakes as a mom. Then I confess and cry and ask for forgiveness.
I can choose to live in that freedom and show myself the same kindness and grace that He shows me, or I continue to get my face sucked off by my shame Dyson. Good visual, yes?
These days my heart feels more at rest. Calm some days even. Amidst my real and perceived failures…even when I’ve yelled at my kids, left a mess wherever I’ve been, said careless words to my husband or blown the budget.
The urgency to “fix” my life just hasn’t fallen into place this year.
Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty to fix. I’m even working on setting some goals which I might share soon. I’m doing the Whole30 right now. I bought another Pilates package. I have plans.
But I will not measure my success on if I don’t follow through. Or if I do.
This year I long to believe this simple reality, not just in my mind, but in my heart and my actions.
I’m being honest with who I am and what I can do. I’m accepting grace for who I’m not and what I can’t finish. And I’m gonna keep growing. I’m gonna keep getting “better” at my life.
So that’s where I am at. Content, and gently, intentionally thinking about my life and what I long for this year. No. I don’t feel the urgency of this month. In fact, I think I needed the space for my soul to just breathe a little first.
I’m not sure where you all are in the whole New Year excitement. Maybe you are pumped and excited and your power sheets are ready. Maybe you throw up the middle finger at someone’s word of the year or SMART goals. I don’t know.
I just want to encourage you to be kind to yourself as He has been kind to you. Don’t be afraid to rest your heart and take it slow. Be honest. Then accept grace. And at the same time, don’t be afraid to be intentional. To think simply about your life and ask God to show you what he wants for you this year. I’m not you, but I bet he has plans for you too.
Like I mentioned before, I do have some things I’m going to share with you that have been valuable to me. They are simply tools. Ideas. Things that have been helpful to me at some point. Remember they are to be helpful not demoralizing. And I can’t wait to actually get into it.
I’m hoping to offer some encouragement for you in your real life. Not your ideal one.
So if there is anything specific you would like to read about as we settle in to the New Year, please comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, I’d love to hear!