Cutting some slack

My one word for 2015 is ‘slack.‘

S-L-A-CK! (I can just hear Miranda Hart saying, “It’s a lovely word – slack!”)

The other day, I was ruminating about some tough stuff going on for me at the time and the friend listening unexpectedly said,

“What about not being so hard on yourself? I don’t hear much of that!”

Closely followed by,

“You’re doing a great job… … I don’t see any nodding.”

“At what point was anything you said just now, your fault?” she continued,
“Well, I’m the common factor in it all” I sniveled.
“Yes but that’s only because it’s your life!” she replied.

As you can see, I’m not good at being kind to myself but I’m very good at thinking I am responsible for the world, its wife and its feelings. I am quite good at giving other people the benefit of the doubt but terrible at doing it for myself.

I’ve been through some traumatic times and coupled with the resulting physical weakness and lack of energy, in moments of clarity I wonder why the hell I feel guilty and push myself on the infrequent days when it still feels too much of a struggle?

I really need to remember I’m a survivor and survivors need to cut themselves some slack sometimes.

Immediately, choosing this word makes me feel guilty and indulgent. I worry that ‘slack’ is an easy option but then there’s a difference between ‘cutting myself some slack’ and ‘slacking off.’ I want ‘cutting myself some slack’ to look like loving myself; honouring my needs; recovering; letting life happen; surrendering to joy and not thinking that I am answerable for more than I am. An easy option? It may just be the hardest thing I’ll ever do!

I want to focus on being grateful for where I am, who I have in my life and what I have learned through the tough stuff.

I want to listen to (and believe!) the positives that the people who know me well and can see me much more objectively than I can say to me. I want to celebrate and own my successes and strengths without feeling at fault or indulgent for doing it.

I’m not going to beat myself up for having a bad day and needing to hide from the world for a while. It will pass. I’m going to try to listen to what my body’s telling me; if the energy isn’t there, I’ll take a rest or do something different.

So yep, I’m gonna spend a year cutting myself some slack. After years of being tied up in unspoken restrictions and covert control, I reckon it’s time to cut myself a bit of breathing space.

And if it all goes horribly wrong and I’m terrible at it…guess what? That’s not going to matter either. At least I tried.

Matthew 11:28-30The Message (MSG)
28-30 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

New Years Resolutions?

I wonder whether you plan to make any New Year’s resolutions for 2014. Here’s some that I’ve made in the past: play more games with Hannah; use my legs more often than my car; finish writing my book; speak to distant friends more regularly; get up earlier to pray and read my Bible. Having a strong tendency towards perfectionism, it suited me well to set goals. I thought I’d be a better person for achieving them. But guess what? I don’t think I’ve ever kept a single resolution longer than a week!

Oh I had a good go at some of them: we played Uno a few times; we walked to school (the first three days of term); I wrote another chapter (into the early hours of one morning); I telephoned one of my friends in January (and again in about September); I got up early (once) and read (through my heavy eyelids) and prayed (when my mind wasn’t wandering elsewhere or dozing off!) So for 2014 I have set just one resolution: No more unachievable New Year’s Resolutions! Thanks to an article by Claire De Boer I realised that,

“all of these goals are rooted in feeling like I’m not enough—not writing enough, not spiritual enough, not fit enough, not a good enough friend or mum…My underlying message seemed to be, “you have to do better, because who you are right now isn’t making the cut.” But a new year doesn’t change those thought patterns—at least not long-term.”

(http://shelovesmagazine.com/2013/ring-new-year-one-word/)

OneWord365.com encourages us to choose one word to focus on for the year that sums up who we want to be or how we want to live. So this year I’ve ditched the to-do list and I’m going for just one word.

The word I’ve chosen is EMBRACE. Seeing it in front of me every day helps me to remember to embrace the present moment; to embrace those around me; to embrace interruptions; to embrace possibilities; and to allow myself to be embraced by the love of God and the people he sends to show me that love. What a relief! No more pressure to be more and much less emphasis on duty than ever before.

So why not join me and pick a word for 2014. Your word doesn’t have to be meaningful to anyone else. It could be something as simple as “no,” or “yes.” It could be an action, a thought or an emotion. Think of some of the challenges you faced last year, or that may be facing you this year. Is there a word that could be relevant for you? If you’re stuck there are plenty of ideas at OneWord365.com:

So go ahead and think about it, pray, or ask for help. Then, if you’re comfortable sharing, let us know your word in the comments box so we can encourage each other through the year.