I know. We’re a full month into the new year. I have such a strong sense for this year, but it’s been hard for me to boil it down to One Word.
Here’s what I know about 2013. I’m going to stop letting fear keep me from what I know I should be doing. You guys, I’m afraid of a powerful lot of stuff. Sometimes I’m afraid of sharing things about myself because I don’t think people will understand. I think I’ll be judged for not being happy enough, not Jesus-y enough, not being conservative or liberal or pretty or skinny or crafty or mom-y or brainy or disciplined or interesting enough. Not writing enough but saying too much anyway.
Here’s what I’m realizing, though, over and over every day all the time. Those people are mostly imaginary, the judgers, but even if they weren’t–my peace would still have to be with God and myself. That’s pretty much it. You and I might have different beliefs about any number of things political, spiritual, intellectual, theological, personal–but your beliefs don’t make me who I am any more than mine do you. Other people (especially imaginary ones) only have the power over me that I give them, isn’t that right? And I’ve been holding that power out, throwing it into the sky with fingers splayed, for too long.
This year, I’m going to be me out loud, no matter how afraid I feel.
I’m not talking about casting off all restraints or launching a controversial blogging series. Some things in my life are not for this space, not for right now. I’m talking about obeying the promptings of my heart, even when they seem scary. When what I want to just write about turns into confessions about dripping snot and not wanting to get out of bed, I’m going to publish it anyway. When an opportunity to attend that conference I’ve been eyeballing for years seems to drop into my lap but I almost can’t breathe thinking about all the people and who will I know and what if I’m there all alone, I’m going to sign up anyway. When I’m feeling happy but have pangs of guilt because there’s that big black un-churchy divorce-mark on my record and probably spiritually speaking I should never be happy again because it’s bad enough that my marriage was unsuccessful and where is my shame, I’m going to remember extravagant grace and feel good anyway. I’m going to trust what I know and what I’m learning, even if I imagine that no one else is learning it the same way, and when what I know I should be doing gets scary I’m going to do it anyway.
Here’s what else I know about 2013: I’m going to be writing a lot. The first and biggest thing is the dissertation. I’m in a flat-out sprint to the finish line 40,000 words away. I need to get this done because life is waiting. And while I’m walking that balance between accepting where I am and looking to the future, this feeling of urgency that’s building up behind whatever the next thing is can’t be ignored. Dissertation, check.
But I’m also going to be writing other kinds of things because (at the risk of sounding like one of those obnoxious people who writes about writing, yars, yars, blah, gack) this is the craft I’ve chosen, and I need to be faithful to it. That’s part of the urgency I’m feeling about the Next Thing, and part of me needing to be obedient to that inner voice. I’ve started already, making an effort to be here more than I’ve been in recent months. It won’t all be online. I want to focus on development, and a lot of that is behind the scenes–but I hope you’ll see the flowering of it in this space.
Part of that also means I’m going to write when and how I feel led. If the only way I can blog is by just writing every week, I’m going to do it and ignore the whisper that says I’m not good enough because I need a linkup to get inspired. All these mean little whispers, they’re all bosh, aren’t they, and I’m not listening any more.
I guess what echoes through all these things most clearly is this: 2013 will be a year of faith for me. Stepping off ledges maybe, falling probably, but pushing on, believing in what I know is there but I can’t quite see. Trusting my heart and that inner whisper that says walk this way. Trusting that when I am fully myself, in private and in public, there’ll be a gorgeous freedom that can’t be shaken, even by the loudest of my imaginary critics.
Who’s with me?