I stopped making New Year’s resolutions years ago. Not because I don’t believe in them; because I am not very good at keeping them. Perhaps, like me, you can relate to passionately charging into the new year with the best of intentions to stress less, relax more, increase healthy habits, or decrease spending. My pattern of New Year’s resolution-keeping emulates that of a comet; comes in fast and strong, burning brightly, but fizzles out quickly. I don’t know about you, but I don’t need another reason to be disappointed in myself. Making promises that I know I won’t keep for more than a couple of weeks is not a good way to build healthy self-esteem. I am already my own worst critic.

A new year is representative of fresh starts, and new beginnings. This year, I decided to embrace the newness of 2014 by doing something different. Instead of adding something to my list of already high self-expectations, I am going to let go of something. That’s right. I’m letting go. And I’m inviting you to join me.

When we hold on to things that aren’t good for us, it actually prevents us from enjoying the things that are good for us. Holding on to the past keeps us from enjoying the present, and moving forward into the future. Holding on to toxic relationships deprives us of love. Holding on to anger turns into bitterness and prohibits joy from taking root. Holding on to unforgiveness and resentment blocks the pathway to peace. Holding on to guilt robs us from experiencing grace. Holding on to shame hinders healthy relationships. Holding on to fear and worry creates a barrier to hope. I have come a long way in my life in regards to this last one. I used to be driven by fear and worry. When I let go of them, I was able to truly experience hope. It doesn’t mean I don’t ever worry, or that fear doesn’t try to creep its way into my consciousness. It does mean they don’t control me anymore.

 Some days, when life is at its most difficult, it’s the belief that things can change for the better that keeps me going. What keeps you going? What drives you?

Sometimes we hold on to things that aren’t good for us because it’s all we’ve ever known. People often fear the unknown, so holding on to the familiar, albeit unhelpful, can provide a false sense of security. Maybe you grew up in an environment where guilt was used by others to try to manipulate you, so now you use it to try to motivate yourself. Only it’s not working. Maybe you have been angry for so long, you can’t remember what your life was like before those embers started burning in your heart, and that’s the fuel that’s kept you going all this time. But do you really want anger, fear, bitterness, resentment, guilt, shame, regret, or blame driving your life? What are you holding on to?

Hope whispers, let go.

This year, I am letting go of disappointment. I am learning that when I hold on to my disappointments and carry them around in my heart, it produces a heaviness in my spirit, and a negative thinking cycle in my mind, that can lead to depression. I have plenty to be disappointed about. Who doesn’t?  Lots of things don’t turn out the way we would like, but holding on to what I wish could have been, is taking entirely too much of my emotional and mental, and maybe even spiritual, energy. I can use that energy for more helpful things, like being creative, and seeking connection with supportive, loving people. When we hold on to things that are not helping us, they hold us. They hold us back, and we experience a life we never wanted. When we let go, we make room for the things that can help us create, and even contribute to, the life we do want.

To wrap up this idea of letting go, I want to share a story with you, that I heard many years ago, which inspired me, and I believe, perfectly punctuates the concept of letting go. I searched relentlessly to find its author, or original source, but was unsuccessful. (I am choosing to let go of guilt that I was unable to do this, and choose to hold on to the knowledge that I did the best I could!) I am attaching a link, so you can be inspired as well, and if you find the original author or source, I would welcome that information, so I can give credit where it is due: http://www.skywriting.net/inspirational/stories/pearls.html

God bless you in 2014, and may you be inspired this new year to let go of all that is holding you back from the life you want, and even greater still, the life God wants for you – which may be even better than you could ever imagine! Let’s do it together…..1, 2, 3 – Let Go!