Can you believe that Christmas is this week?! Can you believe that New Year’s is around the corner? I’m amazed that we’ve reached the end of this year.
As I think about this week and this year, as well as the new year ahead, I can’t help but be in awe of everything. I can’t help but be humbled. I can’t help but be grateful that I am here.
So many heroes got us to this week. So many people stepped out of their comfort zones to save others, to feed others, and to help others this year. It’s been truly breathtaking. And yet, I know so many who were with us this time last year are no longer here. I know there is so much grief and so much loss. I’m so sorry if you find yourself feeling this kind of desolation and grief. I’m sorry that COVID has taken so many lives and so many livelihoods.
COVID has felt like a level 5 tornado. It has wreaked havoc and caused so much destruction—physical, mental, financial, and spiritual destruction. It has ripped up families, relationships, and careers to the point where I think we are all now standing in some kind of rubble. As I write that line, my eyes well with tears. I can feel my heart cracking. I can feel it beating, but I can feel its cracks too.
I finally welcome the fact that I can feel how tender and fragile my heart is right now. I’m sure yours is too. It’s okay.
I close my eyes, and I let out a huge sigh. I take a deep breath. What a year this has been. None of us could have seen it coming. Not you. Not me. And yet, here we are. Standing in our rubble as we look ahead towards Christmas, New Year’s, and 2021.
At this time of year, I usually have all kinds of professional goals for a new year. I usually write down what I want to leave behind and what I want to carry over. But as I reflect at the end of this year—as I reassess and survey my own rubble—I have decided to relieve myself of my usual goals that I want to accomplish.
If I’ve learned anything this year, and in this life of mine as a whole, it’s that accepting and surrendering to God’s will and God’s time, well, that’s something I need to get better at. And so, as I look ahead to this week and this new year ahead, my intention is to simply stay open. Simply stay hopeful and stay grateful. I say simply, but I know it won’t be simple. It’s really hard for me to stay open. It’s hard for me to stay vulnerable and accept what is.
Moving forward, though, whenever I feel myself going down a dark hole (and I sometimes do), I’m going to reach out for help. I’m going to ask a few friends to hold me accountable. I’m going to put my own personal growth at the top of my list, and I’m going to check it twice. (That’s a first for me.) I’m going to practice being open—open to widening my gaze, widening my heart, and dropping that critical voice that challenges what I deserve and the storyline I want for myself.
My story isn’t over, and neither is yours. It doesn’t matter your age, nor the rubble you find yourself standing in at this moment. Your story has so many beautiful chapters in it that have yet to be written. I believe this about my own life, and about yours as well.
So this morning, join me in an exercise that a teacher once taught me. I find it to be super helpful, and I hope you will as well.
Make yourself comfortable. Close your eyes. Put your hand over your tender, broken heart. Breathe in and breathe out. Now, recall all your life’s teachers. (Yes, even those who hurt you, since the hurt teaches you something too.) Gaze at them one by one and thank them for the lessons they have taught you.
Next, picture your family members (even those from whom you may be estranged) and soften your gaze so you can envision their pain too. Sit with them under a big tree in your mind. Let them dissolve to make way for a new image.
Now, picture your friends. Thank each of them for holding space for you along your life’s journey. Every single person has played a role in getting you to this moment. See their role in your life and honor it.
Finally, look out into the open field. See that young child walking towards you? Reach out to them. They are you. Allow them to approach you. Bring them in. Ask them what their wishes are for you this Christmas and this coming year. Don’t judge their response. Let it in. Hold it. Welcome them into your adult self. Accept them fully. Sit. Breathe. Surrender. Open your eyes.
Thank you for being here. Thank you for being here with me every Sunday. You are a gift. You have kept me going. That’s the truth. Merry Christmas and happy holidays. May this new year be one of acceptance, love, forgiveness, and hope for each of us until the end of God’s time.