Love makes everything that is heavy light.
-Thomas a’ Kempis
One of the Kickin’ It Old Skool blog posts from last week was “What is your guiding word for 2014?” I have never used a guiding word for the year. I’ve always set goals. Last year, I wrote about the Radical 2013 Plan in which I outlined my dreams for the year. Some of them I reached (goats, garden, Washington, Backyard Adventure Camp and art projects), and some of them I did not (getting back into racing shape, publishing my novel, writing another, and getting rid of stuff).
Looking back, 2013 was a good year. I did many of the things I wanted, I found a new love of poetry, I had the opportunity to read my work and see it performed on stage, my readership grew, I was offered a possible book deal, I had another successful VBS and two awesome G-Force sessions, and I, quite unexpectedly, found myself employed full-time again.
There was much to celebrate. Still, I have felt bad about all the things I did not accomplish. Rather than focusing on what I did manage throughout the year, I have felt deflated by the knowledge that I left things undone that I was so sure I would finish.
As the year comes to a close, I have reconsidered my tradition of setting goals for the year. Frankly, I am tired. I’ve found myself at the end of this holiday season, exhausted, irritable, and ambivalent about the upcoming year. I feel like there are things I “should” do, but I don’t know if I really and truly WANT to do them. In the days leading up to Christmas, I felt myself growing ever more resentful and angry… and just plain old tired.
Burdened by lofty expectations. Burdened by the idea that I have not done enough with my life. Burdened with too many commitments (despite the fact that I talk a good game about simplifying life). Burdened with the idea that I have not done the great things I am capable of. That I have not been the mother I should be. That I’ve not done enough with the gifts I’ve been given. That I’ve not been or done enough.
For 2014, I want to lighten the load.
I realized that everything about me for the past several months has felt heavy. Sometimes, when I go out to run, my legs feel like cinder blocks and I feel like I’m moving through waist-deep molasses. It’s usually an indication that my legs need a rest, that maybe I’ve been pushing hard and need a break. That’s how I’ve felt– mind, body and spirit– for a while now.
Even the physical heaviness and the extra pounds I put on the past two months is a metaphor for the general heaviness I’ve felt in my head and heart.
I long to feel light. I want to feel lighter in my body so that I can run faster, move more easily, and wear my favorite pants more comfortably. Feeling physically lighter generally makes my mood lighter as well. I feel like I can breathe more easily. But I also want to lighten the load mentally. I want to put down the unreasonable expectations, the idea that I can work full-time, maintain all of my volunteer commitments and still be everything to everybody all the time. I want to lighten my load spiritually by not worrying about the fact that I want to lighten my load. You see, this is so much easier for me to write about than it is to actually put into action.
But if I had a goal for the year, it would be to lighten up. That’s why my word for the year is LIGHT. I want to feel light, be light, and give light. I want to open my heart and mind to the possibilities and the unknown gifts that await me every new morning. I want to finally walk the walk and TRUST that God will get me where I’m going. Even without me controlling each outcome.
I want to let go. Release the death grip. Enjoy the small gifts of ordinary days. Be satisfied with this really wonderful life I have been blessed with without feeling that there is always something else beyond the horizon.
I feel a little like George Bailey this year. I’ve always loved It’s A Wonderful Life, but it’s never struck a chord with me in quite the way it did this year. While George Bailey dreamed of traveling the world and building things, I’ve dreamed of writing books and touching thousands of people with my words. Instead, George stayed in Bedford Falls and had a really wonderful life. Perhaps I may do the same. Maybe it is enough to teach teenagers poetry and the beauty of language. To write a blog that gives a word of encouragement or makes someone smile, even if it’s only my college roommate and not thousands of people across the globe. To teach young girls what it means to feel good about themselves and to cheer their friends on. To make VBS a summer highlight and to set a foundation for a handful of kids who might remember it one day when it matters most. You see, at the end of this rather strange year, I realize I really do have a wonderful life. And I want to appreciate it. Revel in it, in fact.
I want to let it unfold, trusting that new things will come my way in their own good time and understanding that if I follow what I value most, it will all work out the way it’s supposed to.
So my goal for 2014 is to put down my burdens, my worries and my fears. It is to trust fully and to accept every good gift and to savor the little moments of splendor that sprinkle themselves throughout my day but that are too often stepped over and missed altogether when my eyes are fixed on the vanishing point ahead.