A few years ago, my friend Erin Loechner over at Design for Mankind chose to end her year by doing something kind of crazy. She shared a list of non-goals—things about her life that she was resolving to keep exactly the same. It's no secret that this time of year, we come back to the drawing board with lengthy lists of things we're dissatisfied with. We plan to finally lose the weight, clean up the junk drawer, ask that person on a date, read through The Bible, paint the den. We show up on January 1 armed with the newest dating apps, planners, wrinkle creams, fad diets, personality quizzes, and a thousand other tools that we think will make us who we really want to be when, yeah, all we really want to be is seen and known and loved anyway.
So this year, I thought I would follow suit and share my own list of things about myself and this year that I wouldn't change or take back if I had the chance. 2017 has been a hard and beautiful year that has left me breathless more times than I can count. I still have so much growing to do, but for now, I want to take this time to count the fruit.
Without further ado...
This year, I prayed for a thick skin and a soft heart -- and I think God really answered that prayer, because all year long, I stood more unashamedly than ever for the things that matter most to me. It didn't matter who called me a moron or told me I was being divisive. (Because, let's be real, that's code for hey, I don't like that you're so sure in standing up for a belief that's different than mine and I'd be more comfortable if you just shut up, thank you.) I erred on the side of love and learned to be kind in my refusal to back down and compassionate in my demand for more. And I haven't given up hope, even though circumstances have often told me to.
I learned the beauty of honoring my seasons. Lord willing, I will always remember the day when I finally learned the purpose of the wilderness. After that, I pressed in and walked with a new and steady hunger, and a patience that I'd never seen in myself before. I learned how to pray and dig deep and deeper still, and I learned how to trust and meditate on the goodness and sovereignty of God. And now, I know that I am deeply cherished and beloved, which is probably the greatest truth I could have asked for.
I gave up on the race and got picky about my circles. Because there will always be another line to cross and another well meaning stranger who feels it is their responsibility to remind me about ticking clocks and expectations. But this year, I decided to let the opinions of those who have no investment in me fall by the wayside, and I'm freer for it. A few deeper friendships will always be more worthwhile than many shallow ones. And that whole "being all things to all people" thing is pretty much impossible -- but what is possible is loving the people right in front of me, and I can even go out of my way when an opportunity presents itself for me to bless someone on the fringes.
I told fear to go to hell. Out loud and often -- at the kitchen sink, in the car, in the shower, when looking in the mirror, meeting new people, opening the mail, and a thousand other unseen places. And honestly, I'll probably have to keep doing it every single day for the rest of my life, but the point is, now that I've started, it's becoming second nature.
And, for good measure, a list of things that I don't regret about 2017:
Going back to brunette.
Reconnecting with my mom.
Taking a break from church. Seriously, I have learned more about God and the Kingdom and myself in the past few months than ever before.
Deleting Facebook and Twitter for a month. Amen to not feeling like I have to solve the whole world's problems before lunch.
Screaming at the top of my lungs whenever Atlanta United scored.
Fundraising and donating for causes I care about.
Scheduling a cyber prayer meeting with my friend Megan. Changed. Everything.
Coffee dates with Sandy, lunch dates with Devonne, dinners with Nell. Lots of chats about books.
Diversifying my social media follows, and unfriending/unfollowing a few negative voices.
Throwing a surprise birthday party for Craig.
Reading all the books.
The handful of Saturdays we spent doing absolutely nothing.
The Lumineers on repeat.
Hosting a 4th of July barbecue with our favorite people.
What about you, friend? What are you learning to love about yourself and your corner of the world? Tell me all the things.
Psssst! Have you decided on your word for 2018? Mine is garden.