5 Words for the New Year

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6

We’re a month into 2020. The start of a brilliant new year. The start of a new decade.

The chill in the air and the sun shining through my window just keeps reminding me of the promise of hope found in the start of something new. My heart is settled and expectant for all that is to come. But then again, I’m pretty sure you feel it too, there’s also that nagging pull of pressure that I’m not where I should be on the first part of a new year.

I tend to be the kind of person who has no grace for myself on days like today. Because if I was really good and I really had myself together, I would have exercised. I would have eaten more vegetables. I would have done more and controlled myself and stuck close to perfection. And all the while, I forget that everything that I’m striving for (health, joy, meaning, relationship, etc.) is a process. A steady progression towards a goal.

Lately my heart has been tugging the last few days of the year, asking the question, “Why do I have to be in a rush to get it right all the time? Why am I so afraid of the process?”

Process is uncomfortable, because we’re stuck in the in-between of who we’ve been and where we’re going and who we’re going to be. Process means that we have to sit patiently with who we are now, and most of the time that person is a lot more flawed and messy then we were hoping he or she would be. It’s like being in a tiny waiting room where the only other person in there is sitting too close to you and sneezing and wheezing and coughing too loud. And it takes every ounce of self-control that you have not to get up and run screaming out of the room. It’s a choice to sit there and breathe and to trust that it’s going to be over and you will feel better at some point in the future.

I know that’s a silly analogy, but it feels like that’s the way I feel with myself so much of the time. I’m annoyed and perplexed that I haven’t gotten myself together yet, and then am baffled when my high-pressure demands and expectations only lead me to shut down and give up on the whole changing process at all.

We all have someone we want to become in 2020, some area we want to grow in, some part of ourselves we want to leave behind. And my prayer is that we get to those places. But I’m starting to believe that in order to get there, it’s going to take us being a lot more patient, empathetic, and kind. As I’ve struggled through these feelings of frustration and performance, I’ve felt the Father’s loving whisper to me–to let this be a process.

I want us to grow this year. I want us to savor the moments and forgive and let go of the things that are weighing us down. I want us to drink deep of God’s word and memorize scripture and get lost in the beauty that’s around us. I want us to laugh with friends and take care of our bodies, souls, spirits, and minds. I want us to be different than we are today. But in order to really be different, in order to fully experience this beautiful year and to walk away from it more loving and gentle and wise, we have to give ourselves grace.

We have to remember that we don’t have to arrive where we want to be at the end of the year on the first day of 2020. We don’t have to have all of it together already.

And these are my five words that are helping me get to that place, the place of being gentle with where I’m at today, the place of having hope for what’s to come, for who I’m growing into: let this be a process.

Let this be a process.

Let your life be a process. Let your relationships be a process. Let for faith be a process. Let all that seems so unresolved and unknown and scary rest safe in the arms of the Father. Let your heart settle, let the air fill your lungs as you breathe, and remember–you do not have to arrive today. You just have to let this be a process. Let them take the time they need to grow and change and bloom.

These five words to let it be a process are my silent, internal prayer. They’re the words I’m writing on my mirror, on the front of my planner, the words I’m whispering to myself throughout the day. Let this year be a process. Let yourself receive grace. Yes, it takes time, but you are becoming. And the glory at the end is definitely worth the wait.

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