Way back in October I knew my word for this new year. It kept showing up when I would read...just kind of glowing on the page. After a year of INVEST, this new word offered the new steps.
As simple as that.
My investments this past year have taken a lot from me...as all investing does. I planted many seeds in my home, my personal life and in ministry. I recognized that I don't have what it takes to continue to invest in new things, but need to tend to the new life that has sprouted up in many areas. I keep thinking of TEND as a gentle nurturing...watering, weed-pulling, focused attention, care.
The first area that I will be tending is my emotional health. As I was reflecting on the past year with Lara Casey's Powersheets (which I still feel like is one of the most clarifying tools out there whether or not you ever use the monthly tending sheets), I realized that one of my greatest fears for the year is vulnerability. It surprised me as I wrote it, because vulnerability has always been a part of my relational DNA. My vulnerability has actually invited a lot of pain, and I am not in a place where I am willing to get my emotional butt kicked anymore. I wept many tears the first few days of January. The months of numbness and emotional disconnect finally broke wide open, and I could recognize much woundedness and a deep need for healing and perspective.
Todd Henry in his podcast The Accidental Creative has an episode called "Tending the Flame". I listened to it yesterday because "tending" jumped out at me. He said that we come to places in life when we need to disengage so that we can actually reengage again with our best creative work. Without tending our flame, we will get snuffed out and have nothing for ourselves and others.
That's where I am. I acutely feel the need to disengage with many things in my life, to pull back and tend to my soul. I am taking Brene Brown's semester course Living Brave and am hoping to receive some insight, healing and hope.
I also learned that challenge is important to me in my relationships. Some people thrive off encouragement, but I really thrive off people who push me to grow, to be healthy, to tell me that apathy stinks, to motivate me towards change. That's been a missing component in the past six months or even longer, so recently I have been looking for ways to say yes to challenge. I received a Fitbit and had no idea that there was a challenge element to it. I have so enjoyed having daily, weekend, and "workweek hustle" challenges with friends. Being pushed to go farther has been amazingly great not only for my physical health, but I think even more so for my mental health. This year I want to tend the habit of 10,000 steps as many days as I can.
(me at 12:30 am trying to win a Fitbit challenge! :)
I also joined Goodreads after years of being sad with the demise of Visual Bookshelf on Facebook where I had all my books logged and lost. It's amazing how the act of setting up a goal challenge of fifty books for this year has had a direct impact on how I spend my afternoon and evenings. I am much quicker to choose to read over mindless scrolling knowing that I have a solid goal to meet. Three down and forty-seven more to go!
Spiritually, I am tending to myself by listening in prayer and not so much speaking. I am also reading the Daily Office of Scripture passages as marked out in my Sacred Ordinary Days planner. Knowing that I am reading the same verses as other men and women around the world makes me feel small in all the right ways. It's not all about me or my "quiet time" but entering into the greater Body of Christ as we read together and allow the words to have their way.
At first I felt scared about this year, but now it is feeling more and more like freedom. Sometimes I forget what freedom feels like...the joy, the soul-lightness, the grace. When I think about who I want to be at 80, what keeps coming to me is that I want to be healthy. Body + soul + spirit. I want healthy relationships with myself, with Mike, my children and my friends. I want to still be walking four miles every day and sleeping 8-9 hours a night. I desire to pass on emotional and spiritual health to the people I care the most about...a lifetime of habits of forgiveness, openness, prayer, grace, love, margin, simplicity, renewal, service. Who I am at 80 begins here in the small places at 42.
Begin with the end in mind, right?