New Years Eve, 2018
This may be the first year that I’m actually ready to put away Christmas.
Always, each year of my life until now, there has been this mourning at the end of Christmas day. This sadness that it’s over. And like I keep having to tell my three year old son, it is now 360-some-odd days until the next Christmas Day.
But this year it’s different. This year I find myself looking forward to the New Year with equal anticipation. Maybe it’s because December of this year was so supremely hard. Maybe it’s because we got a new couch and the Christmas Tree is currently making it difficult to see how the living room is going to be arranged. Maybe it’s because this year I find myself especially hungry for a clean page and a fresh start.
As a writer, a clean page both appeals to, and terrifies me.
On the one hand, a clean page is a blank slate, full to the brim of potential and space for ideas and dreams to come true.
On the other, a blank page means there is nothing to show, there is nothing to even edit, because I haven’t even yet begun. Though my first draft is likely to be crappy, and riddled with errors, at least something on the page means I am working in the right direction.
I wonder if this might help you too? In the midst of all your New Year’s celebrations and resolutions—if you are staring at the January calendar page like a blank slate before you—maybe remember this; the first draft is never right. But that doesn’t mean, what you write won’t be beautiful.
That means just this: don’t expect perfection from a New Year when nothing you’ve ever written on that first calendar page has been perfect previously. Don’t expect perfectly kept goals and resolutions. Don’t hold yourself to the standard that you know in your heart of hearts is not achievable.
Instead, be content to start on a draft.
Write some words. Make a few mistakes. Set some goals; change them later if you need to. Push forward in a meaningful direction, even if that meaningful direction doesn’t take you where you think it should.
I have lots of little goals and ambitions for this year. Some small and seemingly inconsequential, some grander; the subject of my wildest dreams that I’m actually daring to believe may happen.
But the most important thing I’m resolving to do in this New Year? It’s something I’ve begun the draft on already. Something I have been chiseling at for awhile. A notion, and an idea that has been taking shape in my heart and mind and I realize now that maybe it will resonate in yours as well.
In 2019, I am going to show up as myself in the world.
Maybe it seems too ordinary. But this idea is not even original to me. I have heard Emily P. Freeman speak on this idea most often, (check our her super short, inspirational podcast The Next Right Thing if you haven’t yet.) In essence, this idea to show up as myself in the world, is an invitation to not only fully be who is is that God has created me to be, but to also extend that to the world. To offer my words and my work. To open my hands like a generous hostess and say, “Help yourself! I made these for you.”
The truth is, though no one would usually be so rude as to insult your cooking to your face (small children excluded of course), people on the internet rarely hold back from a desire to criticize.
I have felt too afraid of doing it wrong. Too fragile to try. Too fearful that all my efforts will be for naught, and that it will all be a giant flop. Cooking is a mastery activity for me. I could do it my sleep.
Figuring out how to make my blog do things…how to create things on the computer and then offer them to you Dear Reader…well that just isn’t my forte. And I’ve given that excuse 1,001 times. But no more.
If I’m going to show up as myself in the world, then I need to show up with my words full of encouragement and hope that God has given me. And if I’m going to extend that to the world in a meaningful way, then that means I need to work harder and more intentionally to, as Ed Cyzewski once said in an interview with Hope*Writer’s, “get [my] words where [my] reader can see them.”
So that’s my big scary goal. And whether you are a writer, a manager, a gardener, a janitor, a cook, a nanny, or an executive…I’m betting it could be your goal too.
Choose this year, to show up as yourself in the world, and offer what it is God has given you to share with open hands and an open heart.
Stop making excuses of why you can’t. I know it’s scary. I know it’s hard. The fear of rejection still makes my heart pound sometimes. But in the end, it really isn’t about us is it? It’s about the God who made us. Who put us here on this planet for a reason. Who has good works set out for us to do. I don’t want to get to heaven only to realize that I buried my talent in the sand because I was afraid. I want instead, to hear those words of what C.S. Lewis describes as “the Divine Accolade”; “Well done good and faithful servant.”
But if we’re going to hear those beautiful words, we first need to be faithful. And the first step to faithfulness? It’s to Show Up.
So here’s to marking up the blank page. To writing the first draft. To making mistakes.
Here’s to trying new things. To not making excuses. To staying present in the things that scare us.
Here’s to pressing on in the midst of discouragement and even failure, knowing that each misstep can be our teacher if we let her.
What might it look like for you to show up as yourself in the World? Is there something God is tugging at you to do, that you’ve been afraid to step out into? How might you begin to mark up that blank page in courage and faith today?
I’d love to hear from you in the comments. Remember, Cultivating a Fruitful Life is an activity best served by community. So leave a comment. Grab a couple friends over coffee. Share your heart and listen as they share theirs. Because the world needs us to show up as ourselves. And it will be a more beautiful place when we do.
We ourselves are the dwelling places of the infinite God of the Universe. Where we go, we never go alone. And this year, I guarantee, He has work for you to do beyond the failures you may see lining your January calendar.