It's a new year.
We hear the sayings over and over again, whether it being from advertisements, friends, colleagues, family, or ourselves, whatever it may be:
New year, new me.
"I'm going to completely transform my life."
"I have ten new year's resolutions. What about you?"
"I'm going to be healthier, sleep more, look prettier, and be on my A game."
A new year symbolizes a new start.
Whatever we did in this past year, we can change. Right? It's a new slate. I can simply erase the slate and start again. Right?
You'd think so, especially for this year: 2021. It's the year the world has been waiting for in anticipation.
Do you remember January and February 2020? In the United States, the world has seemed to be in a downward spiral since March last year.
I want change. I want healing. I want to see the world how I used to see it.
This year, I'm not making any resolutions, promises or commitments.
I have one word that I want the year to center around. A word I want to remember and use to grow.
That word is relinquish, a verb, meaning to voluntarily cease or to give up.
You have sacrificed a lot this year. It has been difficult, no matter your circumstance in life. You have had to adapt and overcome. You may have wept at the impossibility of living in the midst of a pandemic. There has been loss. Hurt. Distress. Grief. Pain.
Needless to say, it's been rough.
I have always been a type A person. I feel the need to control most things in my life. I need to envision how I'm going to get things done with the assurance that they'll be done to the best of my ability. I believe this has been one of my biggest strengths and biggest weaknesses.
I've never really been okay with just letting go and knowing I can't control every circumstance in my life.
Things veer off the road, and sometimes, I don't even need to take the steering wheel. Despite the fright when things get off course, there is beauty in things that I can't control.
There's relief. Joy. Awe. I'm filled with wonder when I realize:
Perhaps I'm simply not supposed to keep a firm grip on every circumstance in my life.
Maybe it's okay to loosen my fingers a little and just see what happens.
What if I accepted the challenges instead of fought them?
Things didn't fall into plan last year. They probably won't in 2021.
What if I started being okay with that?
What if instead of fighting with all of my ability to get the plan back on track, I learned to lean into the outcome and accept it?
When life is out of control, what if I accepted the fact that the controlling aspect of my life wasn't always mine to begin with?
To be cliché, what if what's meant to be will come to pass?
Some people call it fate, chance, a god or gods, whatever it may be.
As a Christian, I've been learning this year to stay focused on the God who is in control rather than the world that is out of control.
My knuckles are still white, clutched firmly at the steering wheel.
So, this year, what if I tried to relinquish that?
I wonder what it would look like if I loosened my grip slowly and finally let go. I wonder what it might look like to finally accept that I cannot control every aspect of my life without feigning control that I don't have, to give up my pride and simply be present rather than being in control.
Robert M. Pirsig wrote in "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" that " it''s the sides of the mountain which sustain life, not the top. Here's where things grow… It's the top that defines the sides."
This year, I'm hoping to lean into unexpected circumstances.
It is in the uncomfortable moments that I've learned I grow the most through.
I want to cherish that.
To do so, I must relinquish control and embrace the moment.
2021, let's do this.