January has always had a special significance to me. It is housekeeping month. A time of putting things in order so that when the full force of life hits, you can meet the challenges full on, feet firmly planted. In my case this meant moving into a new home and renovating the house. On a less practical side it looked like reflecting on the past year, re-aligning myself with the vision I have for my life and translating this into specific goals. If I had to choose one word to summarise all of these goals into one overarching objective it would be to “be brave” in 2016.
You may wonder what the above image has to do with any of this. It represents one of my most significant experiences of 2015. Significant because it was the first time in my life I took some tentative steps in the direction of fashion design and sewing. Significant also because it represents a time when I stepped completely outside of my comfort zone, poured my whole heart and soul into something, discovered for a moment what it feels like to feel as if you are stepping into what you were always meant to do and then experienced that everything went terribly wrong. I’m not going to expand on what happened and give you a list of lessons learned. Although this list would be vast and perhaps helpful for many, there’s really just one thing that I want to highlight.
In the case of this experience the pain went deep, it shook some of my very foundations. And yet I walked out of it and I am here now with no visible scars. How?
When what happened happened, it made me question everything. Question the people I looked up to the most, the choices I had made about life, the path I was on and most of all myself, my worth, my purpose. I found myself presented with two choices. I think we always have a choice. Everything in me wanted to silently withdraw. Withdraw from certain people, withdraw from my dreams, withdraw from anything that could make me hurt. Withdraw into a safe place, a place I thought I could recover. But the truth is this place is a lie, it never delivers what it promises. It may make us secure, but with this it brings confinement, loneliness and confusion.
I chose something else.
I chose forgiveness over self-protection. I chose trust instead of doubt, love instead of fear. Not blind trust, but trust in what I had decided the truth to be before the full blast of my emotions and pain had swept me off my feet. I chose to put my trust in true love: true love is extended with no strings attached, it doesn’t diminish in the face of rejection, it always remains. And when I opened my eyes again I found myself in a vast open space. Because true love always drives out fear. Because fear is a liar. Love takes bravery but the reward is freedom, growth, reconciliation, joy, strength, life.
So this year I choose to be brave. I will choose love. I will choose to live. Vastly. Openly. Spaciously.
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.