Filling Your Niche

letting go of 2016

There are a lot of major events you experience on your way through life— starting a new job, your kid’s graduation, a once-in-a-lifetime family vacation, sending that same kid off to college, moving… It’s those milestones that help define your years.

In 2016, we marked off not one or two of those things, but all of them. Knowing this big stuff was coming was partly why I picked “manna” as my word of the year in the first place. There were a lot of big gaps coming up in the road that required leaps of faith. Too many to plan for.

So instead of planning, we jumped— and invisible bridges manifested in spades.

Need a new job? Oh, okay, here’s the perfect one. And take a raise, too.

Meeting high school grad requirements looks dicey? That’s okay, Miss G. This summer class is perfectly scheduled for you to complete your diploma before your trip to Hawaii.

Speaking of trips to Hawaii, how are we going to afford that anyway? Oh hey, check out this amazing budgeting software that’ll help you line up your financial ducks.

Whew, we’re back from Hawaii. Time to think about our move. Let’s check Craigslist— wow, this one house is really adorable, even though it’s small, even though it’s available earlier than we planned on moving… well, whatever, I’ll go to the open house; you never know. Application submitted. Application approved! For the only house we looked at or applied for.

So not that the year didn’t have its rough patches—every year has its rough patches—but somehow when they hit, it was easier this year to close my eyes and think about trust, envision nourishment provided in the desert. And when I opened my eyes again, the way over or through or around was always there.

But let me be very clear: by “easier” I don’t mean there was an absence of resistance on my part. I only mean I kicked and screamed somewhat less than usual while still dragging my feet.

Although I was marginally less stressed out this year than I anticipated, given the massive amount of change we plowed through, every time I had a choice between over-planning for the great unknown or taking a deep breath and diving in, I scrambled for the perceived safety of over-planning instead. Then I’d remember manna. And only then, reluctantly, did I set my spreadsheets and research and projections down, backing away molasses-slow.

So really the last 12 months have once again underlined that I absolutely suck at acceptance. At trusting in the as-yet-unknown grand plans that are bigger than my small sphere of personal plans. At moving forward when the path is unknown, and not freaking out with every step. I guess this is normal. I mean there’s a reason they call it a leap of faith and not a cakewalk of faith. Leaps are scary and committing.

And yet.

This year has brought many miraculous things, whether my heart was willing or no. And I know this is at least in part because I tried so damn hard to be open to that. Even if I wasn’t 100% successful.

My year of manna started out with the intention to stop planning everything to the nth degree and instead take a step back and trust that the right sustenance would be provided at the right time.

A couple weeks ago, I learned from a long-time pastor friend of mine that the well-known Psalm “Be still, and know that I am” can be translated to “Let go, and know that I am.”

Of course. Of course it’s “let go.”

There are a million inspirational quotes and wise sayings and motivational posters that talk about the importance of letting go. And when I read them, I always think “oh yep, uh huh, that’s so true” then go right on tackling my life full-force, always trying to catch my future in a loving stranglehold. I stubbornly force my way forward against the current, bull-in-china-shop style, and wonder why everything feels so goddamn hard all the time.

Yeah it’s a real mystery.

I believe that we’re all put on the planet to learn particular lessons before we can evolve and move forward. And I believe this year I inadvertently—finally— stumbled on one of mine: to learn true surrender. That’s my biggest challenge. Not my word of the year; my word of a lifetime.

And until then, to keep reminding myself that the Universe provides snack service along the way.

mannaword of the year

Maarit • 12/29/2016

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