“We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.” —Joseph Campbell
At the beginning of every year, I try to find a word that I hold on to like a peg for the rest of the year. Let me correct that—I don’t go searching for the word, it manages to find me.
In years past I found the word through messages, passages written by favorite authors or, sometimes, from scripture. “Surrender” was my word for 2011. Many challenges stretched my spirit and taxed my patience; they deepened my faith and strengthened my heart.
This year, it’s not one word, but a phrase—“Ready, get set, go…”
The year 2012 is the year of the dragon. If you were born in the years 1952, 1964, 1978, 1990, this year is your year, too! I feel very positive about the next 12 months and, by His guidance and grace, I pray that it will be so.
The last year was filled with so many challenges for me personally, for us as a nation, and for many countries. Perhaps that was precisely the reason why “surrender” was given to me—so that I would learn to stay still in the eye of many storms, and simply allow things and life to unfold as it must, trusting in the process and believing that all would be well on His timetable, not mine.
On the first month of the year, I’m taking off for a couple days for quiet time, for giving thanks for all that had happened. At the same time, I will try to draw up a bucket list of the things I hope to accomplish for the person I hope to grow into after a year. Growth, after all, must never stop, and learning is a journey that never ends. I have learned that when you ask, be as specific as you can be because if it’s part of His bucket list for you, it will definitely happen.
I browsed over my journal and took a look at my bucket list for 2011. I had “scored” 7/10. Highlights included finally finishing my graduate studies, speaking at an international grief conference, writing a second book and finding a job I love.
The bucket list is concrete proof that stepping out in faith and asking the Lord to make your dreams come true are never a futile exercise. What of the three unfulfilled items on my list? I don’t consider them unanswered. The fact that they did not come into fruition is the answer itself. God might be saying, “Not yet,” so I’m not going to argue with that.
“Ready, get set, go…” indicates to me that it is a season of preparation for greater things to come. Of getting the mind, body, heart and spirit ready for dreams to take flight. Where 2011 found me letting go of a lot of baggage that had weighed me down for many years, and in the process wreaked havoc on my weight, it’s time to travel light now.
When you get to be my age (I’m a dragon, do the math), you become more certain of the things you want out of life and out of relationships. You learn to speak up, and you learn to protect yourself from emotional vampires unless you want your physical health to suffer.
Dr. Christiane Northrup, best-selling author of “Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom” (a must-read for every woman above 40), said it best: “Stop spending time with the wrong people. Life is too short to be with anyone who sucks the happiness out of you like marrow from a bone. If someone wants you in their life, they’ll make room. Never fight for a spot or sell yourself to someone who overlooks your worth. And, it’s not the people who stand by your side when you’re at your best, but the ones who stand beside you when you’re at your worst that are your true friends.”
Her words remind me of a woman I know who ended a 23-year marriage. One thing she said brought home the point of how important it is for people in relationships to try as much to be kind and mindful always of the things they say to one another.
She said, “Over the last 23 years, there had not been a single day when I woke up and was not greeted by a complaint of some sort. I can hardly recall sitting through a meal where a complaint was not raised. Rare was the day when I would not fall asleep to the sound of his voice complaining about something…”
Nowadays, she says, when the children are not with her, she savors her solitude. “I’ve learned the value of silence, waking up to the happy sounds of birds outside my window, and enjoying the sunrise in peace. It really isn’t lonely at all.”
God loves to spring surprises for us. Bucket list in hand, when we think we have it all planned and figured out, He allows in His Divine wisdom, unexpected detours, which sometimes are difficult to navigate, but always, without fail, turn out to be the safer and more scenic routes to get us where we need to go next.
And so, we journey on. Here’s to a kinder and braver 2012!