So, here’s the thing. I’m no good at New Year’s resolutions. I’m just not. I think it’s got something to do with not liking to be told what to do (it’s a problem, y’all) or my preference to watch Housewives instead of sweating it out at hot yoga. I’m not a fan of making a list of things I “swear” to do better because “new year, new me” and “#goals” and blah. None of that.
So, for 2016, I thought it would be more effective to just choose a word. A word that would encompass what I wanted to carry with me for the 366 days of 2016 I was blessed with. A word to brand this year of my life. A word I could whisper and keep myself accountable for (surely I can handle one word…right?). A word that would hold true in each of the ups, downs and in-betweens that I knew were most definitely in store.
The word I chose was “full”.
I think I picked “full” because of the queasy feeling I get at the end of birthdays, vacations and big life things. It’s this hollow, daunting feeling that looms- the question of whether or not I really soaked it in. Like, really soaked it all in. Did I enjoy all of the milligrams of joy, love and laughter there were to consume. Did I? Or was I too busy trying to Instagram the cutest moment or Tweet the funniest quote from my mom. Did I really show up to my life the way I should have, or was I too consumed with wondering about when my next big moment would be?
Interestingly enough, I think that people spend a crazy amount of time worrying about whether they are actually living fullly in the time they’re given. It's weird to think about, but it's held true in my life.
So, in an effort to nail down the thing I really wanted to get right this year- I chose the thing I thought would allow me to really get the absolute most of my days.
I chose “full”.
As I turned 21 on a rooftop in the spring, then waltzed across a stage in a cap and gown a couple of months later- I made sure to be there, and to be full.
When I signed my first job contract, packed my boxes and drove them 8 hours south- I made a conscious effort to be here, and fill up with it all.
I read more books this year. I cried more tears this year. I stopped fighting myself so hard this year. I learned to let things be this year. All by the grace of a God who’s only ever wanted me to be full.
It was that same God grace that led me to a church in my new city, where every single message hits close to my core, and every single Sunday needs to have that hour of worship goodness or the week just won't be as sweet. It was that same God grace that, on a random Sunday morning, sat me next to a man who felt the need to tap me on the shoulder and hand me a book. He handed it to me with a sweet smile and said it would change me. I held the book in my hands for a few seconds before I could break his eye contact long enough to read the title.
The book is called "One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to LIVE FULLY Right Where You Are", and it's written by a woman named Ann Voskamp.
Whoa. So much God grace.
It’s the last book I started in 2016, and it will be the first book I finish in 2017. And, as the sweet man at church promised, it is changing me.
I plan to write about it when it’s done. So, in an effort, to not be redundant in my little space of internet, I will save the details. However, I will give you this little spoiler: Ann Voskamp has figured out what it means to be full, which means she has figured out how to find joy. She’s done it, and she’s gracious enough to share it. And, oh my gosh, it’s so simple. It’s not easy to find all the time, but the reality of it is simple. To be full, is to decide to be actively thankful. That’s it. That’s all there is.
It’s deciding to lay down your pride, anxieties and control- and just be utterly thankful for whatever it is. That is what it means to be full.
Whoa. More God grace.
It’s rounded white mugs, filled with rich coffee reminding you that grace greets us every morning, no matter how many tears were shed the night before. It’s an apartment that’s a touch too warm because close bodies, laughter and yummy smelling things cooking in the oven. It’s forgiveness, letting go and carrying on.
It’s light and new and continuous. It doesn’t give up or go away when you can’t seem to find it. It looks for the cracks, babe. It looks for the cracks to faithfully peer out and pour into you when you take the time to show up and let it in. While I have not nearly figured it all out, I do believe I have found a really important thing. It’s simple and tiny, but so huge at the same time.
I have found the thing that I believe has been dancing through the air since the air became a thing. I think I have found what's meant be read between the lines of scripture. It’s interwoven in faith, nestled in our hearts and it's the thing that’s just patiently waiting for us to look up and accept it. It's simply that joy is fullness, and all it needs for us to do is show up and decide we’re ready. That’s it. That’s all there is.
It isn’t an easy thing, always. It doesn’t always come effortlessly. Sometimes, it looks like giving up, letting go and walking away. Sometimes it is in deciding that, even though we don’t get to control everything, it will all be okay.
You don’t get to control what other people do, whether or not it will rain or what the future holds. You don’t get to pick everything. You don’t get to pick most things, but oh my gosh- there are so many things you can pick.
You can pick who you keep around, how much you’re going to choose to believe in yourself and when you’re going to decide to just stop making excuses and fight for your dreams. You get to decide that you actually can. You get to cut the negative people out and love on the good ones harder. You get to spend time on the stuff that’s going to grow you, and politely skip the stuff that wastes your time or makes you feel small. You get to skip the gossip and fill your circle with people who have real things to talk about. You get to wash your hair, admire your curls (or straight strands…it’s all poppin’) and acknowledge that you’re gorgeous- whether or not someone tells you that every day.
You get to remind yourself that your body is perfect the way it is, and it’s strong and amazing for the mere fact that it gets you where you need to go, stands tall against a world that doesn’t always care about it and moves forward every single day…even when the soul that lives inside of it doesn’t think it’s enough. START TELLING YOUR BODY IT’S ENOUGH, because it is. You get to decide that you deserve a physically, mentally, socially and spiritually healthy life. Then, you get to pursue it. You get to work hard, cry on the days when you feel you’ve got nothing to show for it and then pop champagne and dance your ass off when the promotion comes and you realize you’ve got everything to show for it. You get to live your life knowing that you were intentionally created, and had life breathed into you so that you could stand tall, be unique and do your thang.
2016 was a year of fullness and abundance for me. I turned 21, got a college degree, started my first job and moved into an apartment…on my own…in a city I had never lived in…where I knew no one. I learned to start over. I learned to rebuild.
I learned that, in the process starting over and rebuilding in a city where you know no one…you will cry. Hard.
You will feel super empty and alone, like there is nothing you can possibly do right. But, oh my gosh- let me tell you...the good stuff is on it's way. It really is, because when you start to feel all the nasty feels, that is when you will realize how loved you are. By a God who placed you there and is just waiting for you to acknowledge Him so he can flood you with peace and hope, by the friends who didn’t physically come with you but whose love and friendship never left, by the family that wouldn’t dare leave you to celebrate the holidays on your own and will opt to drive a combined 32+ hours just to spend an inkling of time with you in a cramped apartment.
Fullness is being still, shutting up and letting it happen. It’s taking it in and fully allowing yourself to be present in whatever life is handing you at that moment. You are special. You are beautiful. You can handle difficult things. You will be unceasingly loved by the Lord, no matter how many mistakes you make and how many times you forget to thank Him for all He has done. You will cry. You will get sick. Your heart will race at night, and it will sometimes be hard to breathe- but it doesn’t outdo the fullness.
When I came into 2016, I was so convinced that to live a year of full life, I had to find the sunshine and smile when I wanted to cry. I thought it would be a forced optimism, wrapped in a “fake it till you make it” blanket of a mentality. I found that, instead, it’s being real and honest and asking for help when you need it. It’s taking a hold of whatever it is and airing it out…so much so that there aren’t so many dark corners for the nasty cobwebs to fill up. Joy is not a replacement for negative feelings, but it will overcome them.
To me, living full is a decision to accept yourself and your life for how it is, and actively deciding (in your small every day steps) to move forward to whatever it is that you want. It’s believing, showing up and moving forward- but being present and thankful in whatever season your twirling through. If that’s all I get from 2016, then it’s enough. It's enough, and I am grateful.
I am thankful, therefore I am full. I am aware of my flaws, yet I still think I’m worth my time, fight and energy…therefore, I am full. I’m okay with loving, praying for and being kind to people who won't do the same for me and (oh my gosh) it makes me feel so full.
2016 was full, and I take that as a success.
I hope you’ve either found, or have started your journey to finding “full”.
Also, thank you for being brave, showing up and being you every single day, even when it isn’t comfortable or easy. You’ve got no clue how valuable that its.
Happy New Year! I am wishing you tons of boozey bubbles, sparkly dresses and midnight kisses.
With Love & Glitter,
P.S. My thing for 2017 is "confident". What's yours?