Happy New Year! I hope your holidays were filled with lots of love and laughter, and 2013 is off to a great start. I am expecting big things in the months ahead! No, I don’t have a crystal ball. What I do have is a lot of seeds sown that I have carefully been tending. I am expecting a generous harvest and I want to be in shape and ready to receive it.
Over the last couple of months, I’ve been working hard to prepare myself for the new by releasing some of the old. I call it unpacking my backpack. It’s not a literal backpack, but the figurative one that we all have to carry our “stuff” along life’s journey. Full of memories and magic, our backpacks tell the story of our past. They also hold great insight into our hopes and dreams, our fears and failures. A well-packed backpack can also hold valuable tools to build our future.
The trouble is most of the time our backpacks are a jumbled mess. We go from place to place adding the interesting without assessing the existing. Before we know it, we can barely lift our backpack and we can’t find anything in it. It just feels like a burden. That’s a sure sign it’s time to unpack and let go of some things.
This time of year we’re all so excited for what the New Year will bring. We spend the end of December and early January refining our vision, writing goals, making resolutions, and birthing new dreams. Yippee!!! We’re going to accomplish SO much this year.
But a few months into it, we peter out. We’re exhausted and can’t figure out why. The ambitions we had at the start of the year seem a distant memory as we become mired in the overwhelming task of trying to maintain the existing while pursuing the extraordinary.
Here’s a simple truth we often overlook – the status quo and the extraordinary cannot co-exist. Reaching for more means you have to open your hand allowing a catch and release to take place. Often, the reason we stay stuck is because we’re trying to hold on to where we are and what we have while trying to strive for more. But we all know one of the prices for success is sacrifice.
In any area of our life, to move forward means letting go of the illusion of security and taking hold of the freeness of faith. In doing so, you pack only what you need for this day – not yesterday or tomorrow – trusting that what’s behind you is behind you and what you need for the road ahead will be given to you.
Ain’t that good news? You don’t have to carry around a bunch of crap, just in case. We don’t have to hold on to stuff from our past, cause it’s not coming back. We can fully embrace the road ahead trusting if God gave us the vision, he’ll supply the provision.
This is one of the simplest concepts in life, but so hard for us to do. Trust me, I know it’s not easy letting go. Our security, self-esteem, sometimes peace of mind is wrapped up in keeping everything we’ve accumulated in our backpacks – often to our own detriment. I personally have held on to people, places, emotions and things for years too long. But once I let it go, it was as if a physical weight was lifted off my back.
That’s why I try to start my year assessing every area of my life to determine what stays and what goes. The joyful part is when I find something that can stay. It’s good and positive and healthy and in line with where God is leading me. I get to keep it, but it may not stay in quite the same form. For example, there are some people and things I can’t give the time I used to. I still love them but my life has evolved and so must my priorities. I know that may sound harsh, but we have to have the courage to embrace our abundant life rather than staying stuck so we don’t hurt someone’s feelings. No one wins when we’re not being authentic to our true feelings.
And that brings me to the harder task, letting go of what we need to leave behind. I usually find that these things fall into three different categories:
- Festering, rotten, nasty, dead stuff – these are things we don’t even have to wonder about. Abusive relationships, jobs, and behaviors are all examples of things we continue to carry around despite their negative affect on our lives. Why? Because we have bought into our own illusion that if we let them go someone or something will fall apart. No, it won’t. The truth is allowing them to stay in our space feeds our need to be needed. Without them we’d have to redefine ourselves, and that scares us senseless. But I promise you this – it is okay to love you enough to let go of people and places that don’t know how to respect and love you.
- Broken stuff – things we’re sentimental about, but truthfully just no longer work. It’s like the watch that doesn’t keep time but we won’t get rid of it. We have no idea whether the battery is dead or the insides or rotted. We would know if we took it to the watch shop but somehow we just never find the time. You know what that means? We don’t need it! How about we let this stuff go so that someone who will be excited about it can enjoy it? Or better yet, we let it go to make room for something (or someone) we will enjoy?
- Outdated stuff – things that are past its usefulness or past its time for you. I can talk myself into keeping a lot of things in this category. Not because I want them, but because there is nothing wrong with them. What we usually do is move this stuff into storage – in case they’re like bell-bottoms and come back in style. For 95% of the people and things that fall into this category, we’re really only prolonging the inevitable. But in the spirit of celebrating all of our successes, I’ll just say “Yay us!” It’s out of the backpack.
I’ve added a light-hearted spin, but in all honesty letting go is one of the hardest things we learn to do in this life. Our emotional connection with people and places and things at times makes making rationale choices excruciating. But as hard as they are, they are also necessary for us to move forward.
Our dreams are wonderful, but to go far and long we have to travel light. As we prepare for a year of pursuing the vision God has for our lives, let’s also purpose in our heart to let go of the unnecessary boulders in our backpack. It’s a daunting task, but I believe we are up for the challenge.
My theme song this year is Ease on Down the Road from The Wiz. It holds great wisdom and inspiration for our bold walk into our amazing visions. I hope it puts a smile on your face, some pep in your step, and a little encouragement that your dreams really can come true!
See you on down the road! Loving on Me as I Love You!