“Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”
Isaiah 43:18-19 (NRSV)
Isn’t January over yet?
I started this month with so much zeal. I’d carefully chosen my word for the year —release–with the noblest of intentions. My focus for 2019 was going to lightening the grip of control on my life. Like Queen Elsa, I was going to let it go.
It only took two days before I was white knuckling it through my day. I was a shallow breathing, teeth-clenching, heart-racing mess. Again. Turns out I’m someone who can make the practice of letting go all about clinging.
In a post on Instagram I described the beginning of January as “deliciously pristine,” likening it to my Toyota after I’ve vacuumed it, an event that occurs approximately once a year. Oh, how I love admiring those clear floor mats, marveling at the lack of detritus. But when it comes to stepping into that immaculate car to go somewhere, I get a little uptight. Ok, a lot uptight.
My attempts to maintain a state of near perfection–a spotless interior, an unblemished resolution–require living around the edges of my life. Tiptoeing, sometimes literally, around it, and missing what’s at the heart, at the center.
The whole exercise is ridiculous and futile. Eventually there will be more Goldfish cracker-dust smashed into the carpet.
The above passage from Isaiah 43 addresses far more serious concerns than my piddly perfectionism. The prophet is addressing the people of Israel living in exile in Babylon–those who have been displaced and uprooted, who long for an end to their dispossession. As they anxiously await their deliverance while longing for their homeland, the prophet urges them to release their hold on what once was. “I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?”
Let go of your clinging to what was and make way for a new beginning.
An article in the New York Times about New Year’s resolutions suggested that you imagine yourself on December 31, 2019 and ask, what are the changes in your life you will most appreciate? For me, it’s heeding the words of the prophet: letting go of the former things–the intentions forgotten, the promises broken–and creating space for a new beginning. Again and again and again.