Hail The New

"...fast away the old year passes..." For the past few years I've gotten to New Year's Eve and said a very firm "good riddance!" They were hard years and I was eager to put them behind me.

Last year was also like that, but with an added note of tenderness. I wanted to put the year behind me, I wanted to put growing cancer cells and uncertainty behind me, but I knew I couldn't. We were still in it. So I clung gently to the word "hope", and we spent our New Years praying and smudging and holding our tender hearts in open hands with only the safest of friends.

Now we come again to this landmark of passing time. This year feels so different then the last few. This year Bryan isn't in treatment. His tumors haven't grown in about eight months. We've tentatively, slowly, started to dream again. We've been in a fairly "normal" season.

And I want to hold on to it.

It's been a hard year, but it's also been a sweet year. A tender year. A year were external pressures have slowly lessened and made room for growth, and depth, and slow healing.

Much of this year for me has been peeling back layers and shedding skin. It's been a year of shining light in dark corners, and bringing things out into the open. It'd been a year of waking up, and letting go of numbness, of a slowly opening heart and all the hurt that comes with that.

It's been a year of deep personal soul work. And I'm not ready for it to end.

I know it won't, I know it doesn't need to just because of an arbitrary date on the calendar, but I also know this date marks a shifting.

Something new is coming. Maybe not tomorrow at the strike of midnight, but sometime soon. No season lasts forever. And I can already feel this one ending.

"...hail the new, ye lads and lasses..."

There have been little invitations everywhere. Invitations to enter into a new sort of soul work, a new level of heart work, to build on all that has come from 2015, and step onto new ground.

It is an invitation though, and I know I have a choice to accept it or not. I can sense within me the urge to drag my feet, to think I'm not ready yet, to believe that I need to stay in this space longer. Yet I know my hesitation is just fear.

The fear of not knowing what's next. I can handle the hard spaces I know, I'm not sure I can handle the hard spaces I don't know.

What hard heart work does God have for me next?

This year could bring anything.

When I think about that I don't get excited for all the unknown good this year could bring, instead my mind goes straight to all that could go wrong. I know, all too well, how quickly things can change.

At the heart of my fear are two beliefs. The believe that I am not good enough, strong enough, kind enough, smart enough to handle what comes my way. And the belief that what God has for me is only for my "spiritual good".

I still don't believe that The Spirit of God has good things for me, wants good things for me, here and now, in this life. In very real and tangible ways I still don't believe (though I struggle to believe it) that God loves me.

I think that is the heart of this invitation I keep hearing, the invitation into a new year, a new season, a new space of growth and learning. Will I believe that I am the beloved? Can I accept that God loves me AND has good things for me (in the land of the living)?

How? How do I step onto this new ground, into this new land? Beliefs aren't changed by a sudden act of decision. It takes time and lots of little repeated decisions, decisions to stay the course.

I'm finding a small bit of the map in the writings of Henri Nouwen lately. It is good that though each story is unique to the individual there is also much that is common in the spiritual journey.

"The new country is where you are called to go, and the only way to go there is naked and vulnerable...As long as you run from where you are and distract yourself, you cannot fully let yourself be healed. A seed only flourishes by staying in the ground in which it is sown...Think about yourself as a little seed planted in rich soil. All you have to do is stay there and trust that the soil contains everything you need to grow. This growth takes place even when you do not feel it. Be quiet, acknowledge your powerlessness, and have faith that one day you will know how much you have received." The Inner Voice of Love

"Do not despair, thinking that you cannot change yourself after so many years. Simply enter into the presence of Jesus as you are and ask him to give you a fearless heart where he can be with you. You cannot make yourself different. Jesus came to give you a new heart, a new spirit, a new mind, and a new body. Let him transform you by his love and so enable you to receive his affection in your whole being." The Inner Voice of Love

"Do not discount what you have already accomplished. You have made important steps toward the freedom you are searching for...You can look at your life as a large cone that becomes narrower the deeper you go. There are many doors in that cone that give you chances to leave the journey. But you have been closing these doors one after the other, making yourself go deeper and deeper into your center. You know that Jesus is waiting for you at the end, just as you know that he is guiding you as you move in that direction. Every time you close another door - be it the door of immediate satisfaction, the door of distracting entertainment, the door of busyness, the door of guilt and worry, or the door of self-rejection - you commit yourself to go deeper into your heart and thus deeper into the heart of God. This is a movement toward full incarnation. It leads you to become what you already are - a child of God; it lets you embody more and more the truth of your being; it makes you claim the God within you... You must trust the depth of God's presence in you and live from there." The Inner Voice of Love

"Jesus is where you are, and you can trust that he will show you the next step." The Inner Voice of Love

Yes, come Lord Jesus. Teach me to trust. Change the beliefs I hold about myself and about You. Change them so that all that remains is honest truth. And as I step into this new year, this new season, hold me firm in your love.

Grace and peace, Bethany

UncategorizedBethany Stedman