I am 28 years old, and although I’ve had some pretty incredible years in my short life, none of them can touch 2018.
This is the year everything changed.
As a result of several “life-quakes” back in 2016, all the plates of my person were suddenly not as tight and tidy as they’d always been…and this year the after-shocks took effect.
All the basic building blocks of my mindset and worldview were hit hard, and the seismic shifts became manifest in three, fabulously freeing ways.
The good news is, you don’t necessarily have to experience a personal seismism in order to experience the positive outcomes. Just make some decisions.
Here are the three things I did in 2018 that have completely altered the way I will live the rest of my life:
I stopped believing everything I’d always been told.
I come from a religious denomination that is, in my opinion, exceptionally unhealthy. (I’m not ready to write about the details, yet, but stay tuned in the days ahead, and I’m pretty sure you’ll hear about it.)
Suffice it to say, this denomination thrives on fear, and relies heavily on power figures — and as a result, I heard and believed a lot of fallacies about faith, family, God, and goodness.
This year, I was finally over it. Although I’ve always been one to ask questions, I realized I hadn’t been asking enough.
I didn’t throw away my faith, but I stopped accepting that everything is exactly as I have been taught, just because that is the way I was told it is.
I don’t have a lot of answers. But I have learned that the burden of questions is often much lighter than the dead weight of intentional ignorance.
There’s no need to throw a belief system out the window simply for the sake of “changing your life.” In fact, that can be as damaging as the original erroneous worldview.
But switching off the default of simply accepting what you are told because of who said it to you, will absolutely challenge your status quo.
I learned to forgive.
Sitting on the couch with my husband one night this summer, tears streaming down my face and sobs shaking my body, I knew I had to do it. For me.
Between sobs, and my voice breaking up every few names, I repeated the phrase “I forgive____”…and I listed every. single. person. in my life who had ever hurt me.
This may be the most difficult thing I’ve done in my life, ever.
And I’m not convinced that I’m ever quite finished. I still see resentment show up in my life at times. But then I remember my choice to choose forgiveness and know I need to reapply its healing medicine.
That night in my living room has been a powerful catalyst of continuing to forgive and live in love. As a result of making that very deliberate and vocal declaration of forgiveness, I have found forgiveness to be easier to live as a lifestyle.
The freedom to be found in choosing to forgive is unparalleled — try it and see.
I quit my guilt habit.
In Shelly Miller’s fabulous book “Rhythms of Rest,” she tells the story of her mother-in-law Geri’s personal mantra: “I don’t do guilt.”
I don’t do guilt.
My life since my youngest memories has been defined by guilt. I suspect it’s due to all kinds of things — the religious environment I was brought up in, my own bent toward perfectionism, the expectations of my relations, etc.
To say it’s taken a toll on me is an understatement. Living the guilty life gave me a playlist-on-repeat of depression and anger, constant self-criticism, and total insecurity.
But this year I encountered some truths that absolutely emancipated me:
“There is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus, because the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1–2 CSB
No condemnation in Christ. Period. I am in Christ, and he is in me, and therefore I stand free and uncondemned for all eternity. This — this — will change life, how you live in it, and how you love others.
I carried the weight of guilt on my shoulders for far too long, but in many ways I do not regret this, because now that I am unburdened, I feel as though I’m walking on air. The internal difference between who I have been, and who I am becoming is so stark, and so bright, and so beautiful, and so exciting, that it’s hard to contain.
Maybe that’s because we’re meant to share these things.
A friend of mine on Facebook has this quote under her name: “We’re all just walking each other home.”
Walking each other home. And as we walk, sometimes in silence, sometimes with speech, let’s choose to ditch the baggage — ignorance, unforgiveness, and guilt all belong on the side of the road. Not on your back.
In 2019, let’s throw them away, and walk free.