Today is my 25th birthday, and as a writer (and an over-thinker), I usually spend some time in November reflecting on all of the wonderful life lessons that I learned in that year. But this year I am staring at a hefty collection of habits and perspectives that I would really rather not carry into my next year of life. So here are 25 things I am striving to release & receive in year 25, along with some photos of the incredible humans who continue to journey with me:
- I want to release the habit of running a negative mouth, magnifying the day’s problems, and living with a slump in my shoulders. I want to receive a little transition from being an Eeyore to becoming a Pooh Bear, embracing gratitude and playfulness as my default mode of operation.
- I want to release this daily dance with self-doubt and insecurity through every crevice of my own mind. I want to receive the discipline to ground my mind in faith and self-love, freed to be the cheerleader, confidant, and champion for others.
- I want to release the judgment I feel towards others for their shortcomings and flaws, knowing that deep down my judgments of others are often a reflection of my own insecurities. I want to receive acceptance of people as they are, freedom to come as I am, and the ability to look into a new or familiar face and to see the mark of God in them.
- I want to release comparing my present suffering with another’s present victories, both devaluing my own journey and limiting my capacity to celebrate with others. I want to receive the invitation to participate fully in our human experience by simultaneously holding our joys and our pains.
- I want to release the temptation to put passions and dreaming on hold because life just feels a little too hard today, I didn’t get enough sleep last night, or it will be easier to be a passionate individual tomorrow. I want to receive the invitation to wholeheartedly pursue the talents and gifts that the Lord has created me with, believing that there is value and purpose in passionately discovering my role on this earth and celebrating with others as they discover their’s.
- I want to release my fierce independence that often leads me to stubbornness, attempting to conquer everything solo and refusing to vocalize my need for help. I want to receive the strength to invite others into my hard spaces, appreciating the ways that mutually showing up for each other can often lead us into wholeness.
- I want to release the hardening of my own heart to the suffering of others for the sake of self-preservation. I want to receive the ability to choose vulnerability and empathy, trusting that being present with another in their suffering will make me more whole, not less.
- I want to release my weekly countdowns to Friday, blindly falling into the trap of rushing through two-thirds of my days. I want to receive the invitation to slow down, to appreciate the gifts of small moments, and to see that there is so much value in choosing to work hard.
- I want to release holding my breath in fearful expectancy that something will (and always will) go terribly wrong. I want to receive the ability to wake up with breathless expectation that today will hold laughter and discovery and newness if I choose to make it so, and that even if something goes terribly wrong, I will (somehow, someway) still be ok.
- I want to release my gluttony for experiences – always looking ahead, chasing endlessly after newness, adding an unquenchable desire for adventure and change to my already-full plate. I want to receive contentment to be exactly where I am, trusting that there is value in staying put for awhile, that there is opportunity for deep roots to grow when I’m not throwing myself into yet another transition.
- I want to release my obsession with overthinking things that don’t deserve limitless amounts of my energy and attention. I want to receive the authority to stop thoughts from flowing in destructive and unhealthy directions, redirecting them to thoughts that uplift, usher wisdom, and increase my capacity to love abundantly.
- I want to release finding false security in my paychecks and home and outward stability. I want to receive the beckon to faithfully step into the unknown, trusting that the integrity of my spirit, the goodness of my Abba, and connection with His children are the things worth investing in.
- I want to release crying foul because painful things happen without my consent or foreknowledge. I want to receive making peace with my grandma’s old phrase, “No one promised you roses, darlin’,” and yet to still see the beauty and purpose in extending roses to others.
- I want to release the need to be perfect, to never disappoint, to always have it all together. I want to receive the understanding that my imperfections are what make me human and that the authentic revealing of my weakness is what allows me to connect deeply with another.
- I want to release my paralyzing fear of losing the people that I love. I want to receive gratitude for the breath that fills our lungs today, using this gift to reach out for connection, drop in for a spontaneous hello, or open my home to refresh a friend’s spirit.
- I want to release the self-applied pressure for faith to look black & white, to feel predictably familiar, to lead to easy answers. I want to receive the freedom to wrestle through my questions and doubts, to enjoy a new way of faith that feels unfamiliar, and to find beauty in the messiness of learning and growing in community.
- I want to release the expectation that I need to have my life neatly sorted out at age 25 (or 45 or 75 or 105). I want to receive the beckon to enjoy the lessons that I am learning in this season, to be prepared to throw some of them out in the next one, and to cherish the way time allows us to learn and unlearn again and again.
- I want to release the fear of what I cannot understand, the ending that I cannot see, and the process that I cannot wrap up nicely in a 500-word blog post. I want to receive the courage to feel my fears and the stamina to fight to overcome them.
- I want to release the impacts of trauma, the helplessness surrounding my health, and the frustrations of feeling as though my circumstances have somehow come to define me and who I am becoming. I want to receive the wholeness and healing that I trust have already begun, making room for that which brings me life and brightening the shadows that will no longer hold their darkness over me.
- I want to release the scarcity mindset that convinces me that I need more – more sleep to be energetic, more health to be joyful, more wisdom to be radiant, more time to invest in the people I love. I want to receive the gift that this day is exactly what it needs to be, that I am enough just as I am, and that I already have all that I need.
- I want to release guilt and shame over the not-so-great ways I have handled difficult situations, over the uglier sides of myself that I wish didn’t exist, and over the ways I have let others down. I want to receive forgiveness for the holes that are needing to be healed and the grace to make mistakes and to do better next time.
- I want to release anger and distance from God because of projected blame for the loss of young friends, my own painful journey, and systemic injustices that make me want to scream and fight. I want to receive the invitation to sit in stillness so that I may rediscover my Jesus in all of his gentleness, compassion, and grace, to receive His invitation to accept the promise that all of this heartache and death won’t always be so.
- I want to release my angst and frustration over so many of my dear friends living so so many miles away. I want to receive the treasure of lifelong sisters, timeless memories, annual reunions, and regular phone chats that fill my soul to the brim.
- I want to release the constant push to prove my own worth and the second-guessing of whether or not I am accepted by others. I want to receive my identity as a beloved daughter of our King, and to know that identity so intimately that speaking value over others flows freely off my tongue.
- I want to release the need to control – control where my time goes, control how my relationships pan out, control the cleanliness of my shared home, control the exact trajectory of my life. I want to receive the freedom to step out of the driver’s seat, to unclench my fists, and to trust that the unplanned and untamed paths can sometimes bare the most fruit.
I am celebrating this birthday with the faith that the second half of my 20s can be better than the first, if not for the circumstances then for learned resiliency and deeper faith. So yesterday I wrote each of these 25 “releases” on tiny strips of paper, and my husband and I burned them in our fireplace one-by-one. Cheers to releasing that which no longer serves us and the courage to continue learning and receiving with open hands.
Take courage, you are healing.