Ready, Set…

I began writing this twenty minutes south of Atlanta, preparing to leave my parents’ home. As a college student who’d started coming and going over the holidays, I remember talking to a friend of mine who was ten years older. “Leaving never gets easier,” she said.

We started the day around the breakfast table, drinking coffee and swapping holiday favorites as raindrops danced in the patio. All of us agreed the highlight was being around family.

There is a level of comfort here; I worry for nothing. Everything is cared for. Everything is calm. I am safe.

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As we moved to the family room, the skies darkened, and the rain came harder. I snuggled into my favorite corner of the couch, turning on a lamp that only slightly illuminated the room. I watched the falling water form intersecting lines down the window and felt the shift of responsibility that comes with age.

Though my parents are fully capable and self-reliant, when I see them hurt, I hurt. When they’re sad, I feel the need to comfort. It’s no obligation, I want to be present.

But life goes on and I held a return ticket to Nashville.

The skies were mostly clear by the time my husband and I boarded the plane, but the unseen atmosphere still managed to toss the aircraft like a ball on a playground.

I sat as still as possible, closing my eyes and trying to focus on the voices in my ears — Annie Downs and Eddie Kaufholz on the Sounds Like Fun 2018 Year in Review podcast.

Does anyone else feel pressured to have their lives in order this time of year? At every turn, another goal-setting meme or some would-be resolving “inspiration.” I have never been good at these.

Annie talked about this, too. She spoke on gratitude over resolutions. I took mental notes as she described making a list of all the new places she visited and friends she made that year.

It would be so easy to look back on 2018 as a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year. Weighing everything though, was it really? I began thinking through my journey to wholehearted living and how it’s deepened friendships and formed others along the way. Now that I’m on the other side, I’m not sure I’d trade 2018.

Part of me wonders if this is bad. But, beauty in pain and all that…

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This time last year, before the ball started rolling in January, I tried something different. I set intentions on five strips of paper, stuffing them inside a clear ornament.

By January 5, our tree was packed away, my family was shaken, and I’d instantly forgotten what the ornament now held. I unwrapped it right before Christmas to remind myself and was shocked to see how the year had forced my hand on these without even knowing or trying.

I taped them inside my journal to remember before replacing them with five more.

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This year, I wrote down intentions for choosing authenticity and building community; reminders for seeking, listening, and being intentional with rest. On the fifth strip of paper, I wrote “Be brave. Risk vulnerability.”

I am challenged when I think of the new year in regards to Isaiah 43:19.

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

Like a trapeze artist about to jump from one swing to the next, I’m excited about the new thing, whatever it may be – but first, letting go.

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