If you don’t know me in real life you may not be aware that I’m somewhat type-A. I don’t like admitting that, but it’s true. I also have a perfectionist streak that is, of course, my worst enemy. With that in mind, last year I decided not to write out formal New Year’s resolutions but instead chose a word for the year. The idea was to set myself up for success, not by sitting out of goal setting entirely, but by staying realistic about what I could actually expect to accomplish. I’d been in a new city and state for about 60 days and a lot of the day-to-day items of life were just plain up in the air.
Picking a word for the year made me feel like I had flexibility to set shorter term goals as long as they aligned with that word. I know it might not seem like “Breathe” is a very direction-oriented word but it was much more fitting than I expected. When I moved here I knew it would take time to feel settled in and start thinking of this new city as my home. I said it at the time, and I still believe it’s true – you cannot replace a lifetime overnight.
The thing is, we’ve romanticized the idea of having a blank slate. A fresh start sounds nice in a lot of ways, but I think in truth many of us would prefer to hold on to the good things we already have and just kick out the parts we don’t like. But starting over means you pretty much have to let go of everything, good and bad.
I ended up setting two big goals for 2016: get settled in Charlotte and buy a house. I didn’t find a house and if I’m being honest I can’t say that I feel completely settled here. That’s due in large part to the lack of house. Please don’t misunderstand – living with my parents while I house hunt is an incredible blessing. But there are a million minor inconveniences that come with it that feel like walking around with a tiny rock in my shoe. Having space that’s fully my own will go a long way to reaching that “settled” feeling but I’m also not willing to settle for a house that doesn’t fit me just so I can get out of the house.
It’s been a year of taking one breath at a time. Taking slow breaths and picking my battles. Taking deep breaths and letting things go. Rinse, lather, repeat. There were times I felt so broken and full of self-doubt that it was suffocating. But there were times I felt completely calm and confident in my choices too. Patience came easily.
I’d like to say that the patient, collected side won but by the end of the year it just felt overwhelming. I walked away from my “not bad” life in Virginia for what? What do I have to show? Let me just tell you friends, that kind of math never adds up. If you’re asking yourself that question you’re almost certain to be disappointed by the answer.
The good news is I am stubborn enough to push through. I had just enough reassurance to keep holding on, to keep thinking “any day now,” and “you have no idea how close you might be.” It’s a process, and that’s why I’ve pretty much stopped sharing the details – it’s not a good idea to tell a story when you don’t know how it ends. And though I did this page back in August, it still applies today:
There are not many two-page spreads in my bible but I’m very proud of this one. I think it shows exactly how the Lord can start something in our lives and we only get to see a little bit of it at first. It’s not until later that we can see how all the pieces come together and the big picture comes into focus. I painted the left hand page in February and thought it was great on its own but together…
Nothing is finished until He says it is. Maybe that’s another reason I’m too stubborn to call it quits on this Charlotte adventure – why would I lean on my own limited perspective when I can trust in His unlimited vision? Why would I insist on getting my way, right now, like a two year old, when I don’t yet know how this story ends?
Breathe was a perfect word for my 2016, and I hope my 2017 word will be just as fitting. What was your word for 2016? How did that go?