It’s been just over a year since I made the choice to let go of over five years of writing in a journal every day. Those five years were an important part of my life, and there’s a lot to be said for starting a discipline and sticking to it out of sheer will, forming of a habit you no longer want to break. But it came to the point where I had to recognize that my life was changing, and I was changing, and this part needed to change, too.
At first, after that decision, I still wrote every week or so. But as the days got busier, and I began to share about what was happening in my life with other people, the dates in that last journal grew further and further apart. Three in April, two in May, two in June, one in July, one in September…and then the last few pages I filled last night, heading into 2016.
So much has changed in my life this year, and I don’t have anywhere near the same record of it that I have in the past.
In a way, that makes me kind of sad. It feels like letting go of the memories, of losing what it was that made me who I am today, of making it harder to keep track of all the things happening so fast in my life from day to day. Huge things and small alike.
But in many ways, I think it has been good for me to let go. I think in 2015, I started learning to live in the present. To savor the moments as they happened, and treasure them in my heart. To act without as much hesitation and insecurity, to stop putting things off, especially when they were things that needed to be said to people. And I think that has been good for me.
I still enjoy looking back and remembering with joy and thanksgiving. But I am learning that God provides opportunities in the present. The past gives the opportunity to learn from mistakes, yes. But the opportunity for change, for growth, is in this moment. The opportunity to impact eternity is now. The chance to change a life may only be a fleeting second. Time is a gift, but it can only be taken now.
Shannon Dittemore wrote a beautiful post a few weeks ago full of gentle advice and “wishes” for teenagers, specifically writers. These few sentences really hit home for me:
To those wondering if you’ll ever know anything worth telling, worth sharing, worth writing, I say this: live. I wish you the kind of journeys you have to take with your own two feet. The kind that take place outside of stories. – Shannon Dittemore
And then she ends the post with, “You have stories inside your skin that must be lived. This next year, go live them.” That line hasn’t left my mind for long since I read it. I think it’s such an important reminder–to anyone, but especially young people on the verge of adulthood, with huge decisions surrounding them, and so many opportunities to get caught up in stress. So much temptation to get stuck looking to the past and mourning the end of childhood, and also stuck in the future, with grand, scary possibility and responsibility. With all this, it is so easy to lose the present.
2016 is wide open and full of opportunity, but a new year isn’t the only chance we have to start over and “do things right.” Lamentations 3:22-23 says, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness.”
God offers the chance for change each and every day, each and every waking moment. This year, may we take that promise and really live with it in our hearts. Let us live in the present, taking the opportunities God prepares for us to show the world the light of His love.
Happy New Year!
What are some things you learned in 2015? What about things you’re looking forward to in 2016? Let me know in the comments!
P.S. Yes, I love UP. Yes, I love Kung Fu Panda. Yes, I quote both whenever the opportunity presents itself. (See what I did there?)