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Goodbye & Hello: what I’m letting go of in 2021 and stepping into in 2022

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“Man is born broken. He lives by mending. The grace of God is glue.”

Anne Lamott’s words from her book, Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith, got me thinking about what it means to be mended. The word itself means to repair something that is broken or damaged. 

I think we all have parts of ourselves, perhaps mostly unseen, that need a bit of mending. 

But how, then, do we mend what is broken when what is broken seems so much bigger than ourselves? 

Anne’s words end with pointing to the Mender, Himself. 

“The grace of God is glue.”

I met with my spiritual director earlier this week and we talked about this enormous idea, this unexplainable gift, of grace. I shared with her that I am so terrible at giving myself grace and because of that, I struggle to give it to others.

I then went on to share with her that I’ve noticed a number of things about myself in this season of life that I would like to let go of. As I finished my thought, we sat in comfortable silence for a few moments, and then she asked me, “What is it you want to say goodbye to? And on the other side of that, what is it you’re wanting to say hello to?” 

She encouraged me to name the deadweight in my soul that’s holding me back from looking more like Christ and to name the light that I long to receive in its place. 

This is how those unseen, broken places within us begin to mend; when we shed the Lord’s light on the darkest parts of our hearts and then reach for the grace that He’s purposed to heal. 

Saying Goodbye

A few days after meeting with my spiritual director, I sat down to ponder what it is I want to say goodbye to in 2021. I felt the Holy Spirit gently tug on my soul to get quiet in His presence as I prayed the words of Psalm 139: 23-24, Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.”

I realized in those moments of silence and lingering in His presence that 2021 has been a big year, indeed. And in the midst of big changes, the ugly things inside of us have a way of coming to the surface. Mostly because when big things happen, they’re usually things outside of our control. 

And we are a people who crave control. Or, at least, I am. 

Saying goodbye is sometimes what God calls us to do so we can let go of what’s keeping us from looking more like Him. And I’m ready to let go. 

So, friend, here’s my list of 6 things that I’m saying goodbye to in 2021.

  1. Performance and measuring my worth based on my productivity level. 
  2. Perfectionism, because perfectionism leaves no room for grace or God or the grace of God. 
  3. Past wounds, because nothing can grow in the present if I constantly live in the past. 
  4. Harsh words and a bitter, resentful state of mind. 
  5. Jealousy and comparison. 
  6. Control and closed fists. 

Saying goodbye isn’t an easy process, and rarely can it ever be done in a day’s time. It’s best when saying goodbye to be patient and to live in a constant state of surrender each day. After all, we really don’t have any other choice, do we?

If we want to miss the wonder of Christ in our lives, then yes, I suppose we do have the choice to stick with what is comfortable and known. But Jesus Himself said it best that in order to be like Him – in order to keep the sanity of our souls – we must give up our own way, pick up our crosses, and follow Him. 

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.  And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?” (Matthew 16:24-26, NLT)

The alternative is a soul lost in a world full of things that are unfulfilling, things that only leave us hollowed out and lonely. 

But the good news is, on the other side every goodbye, is a new hello. 

Saying Hello

An invitation from Christ to receive the good seeds He wants to cultivate within us once the weeds of goodbye have been uprooted. So, here are the 6 things I’m waving hello to in 2022. 

  1. Grace; let it carry me, always. 
  2. The present moment and how God is moving in the right here, right now. 
  3. Joy; true, uncircumstantial, down to the bones kind of Jesus-joy. 
  4. Gentleness and mercy; not only with others but with myself, too. 
  5. Humility and contentment; I can celebrate the success of others because I have all that I need in Christ. 
  6. Receiving with open hands and an open heart all that God chooses to give me this year. 

Saying hello issues its own kind of letting go. A letting go of the heavy so we can cloak ourselves with the Light. This process is called refining, and just like the diamond I wear on my ring finger was once a piece of ugly, black coal, we, too, must allow ourselves to be refined. 

If we don’t, we remain the same and never know how brightly we could’ve shined underneath all the muck and grime. 

“Two-thirds of the people in the land will be cut off and die,” says the Lord. “But one-third will be left in the land. I will bring that group through the fire and make them pure. I will refine them like silver and purify them like gold. They will call on my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘These are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.’” (Zechariah 13:8-9, NLT)

God refines us to bring us closer to Himself. It’s through the refining fire of heaven’s hands that we are able to look more like the Creator and less like the world He created. We must be brave enough to say goodbye, but we also must be brave enough to say hello. 

To grab hold of the Refiner and trust that He knows what He’s doing and that His ways are really higher than our ways, His thoughts higher than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:9). There’s a sort of falling that must take place, a falling into the Father’s faithful love. 

A Blessing for the New Year

As you step into a new year, friend, may you have the courage to say goodbye to the things in your heart and life that are no longer life-giving. 

May you remember that as you say goodbye, there’s always a better hello waiting to take its place if you’ll just be patient enough to look for it.

And may you remember that grace meets you where you are, covers all of where you’ve been, and waits to greet you wherever you go next. 

God’s grace is the glue that holds you together. 

Here’s to a year of allowing God to mend what’s broken, refine what’s not, and cultivate the new where the old once lived.