Reconcile verb. 1:to find a way of making (two different ideas, facts, etc.) exist or be true at the same time, 2: to cause people or groups to become friendly again after an argument or disagreement. ~excerpted from http://www.merriam-webster.com
Relinquish verb. 1:to give up (something), 2: to give (something, such as power, control, or possession) to another person or group. ~excerpted from http://www.merriam-webster.com
Last evening I stood in line at the store wondering where my thoughts of simplicity and non-consumerism went. I was happily shopping for gifts. How do I reconcile the simple sanctity of Christmas with the giving Santa hat- clad woman chatting away in a Target line full of holiday cheer?
I returned home with my heavy shopping bags and sat before my home computer staring at my framed art; my still life. The reminder to remember the reason for the season. To celebrate Christmas one does not need to spend money or shop in a frenzy. But what if I LIKE this aspect? What if I want to give thanks to those family members, teachers or people who are part of our lives? I do not feel crazed or stressed. I like addressing and stuffing Christmas cards. I am energized!
I sat in the quiet space and wondered what was wrong with me. In the dark my focus softened and my mind relaxed. With my bedroom Christmas tree lights (I know, over-the-top; I have one on my dresser) I fell asleep.
As I drove into work the epiphany hit me between the eyes. It has been lurking in my periphery for quite some time but after two separate conversations the light bulb switched on.
I must relinquish my ideas of perfection. Life is a process of letting go. It is inevitable and the faster I accept this; the easier and simpler things are.
My vignettes of Christmas are reminders throughout my home. The Nativity sets, the advent wreath and calendars, the framed art upon my desk. My mind knows what the true sentiment is this holiday season. But I seem to have a hard time relinquishing the control; of trying to beautify and simplify my life. I love to gaze at the evergreens on my banister and mantles and the eight, yes eight, various trees within my home (ranging from 8ft. to 1 ft.). I sat on my stairs breathing deep. I am subconsciously creating this beauty thinking the beautifully wrapped items, baked goods will transfer to sentiments of love and joy. The expectation bar is already set too high.
Perfectionism (or OCD) is insidious. Time is spent making everything clean and perfect creating stress and angst within my household. I lie a bit past midpoint on the spectrum between messy and clean and cannot relax until clutter doesn’t distract me. I like straight, clean lines. So when life throws me curve balls I resist and hesitate; unwilling to relinquish control of my space. But it is not in my control. I need to give it up to the one who has the master plan; delivered in the tiny bundle of joy in a manger.
How to reconcile & relinquish?
Yesterday I spoke to a friend who is moving and is not handling it very well. She is depressed. She resists. I am all too familiar with these sensations and as I crossed the state line between the western and southern states I cried that I could not fathom what people were saying; the southern accents heavy. After over twenty years of moving I have still not mastered the heaviness of heart as I pick up my life and transplant to a new place. And so my heart was heavy as I heard her anguish and worry. How would her high school daughter handle it? How could she do it without her family or friends while her husband traveled often? Fear of the unknown.
This morning I sat with another dear friend in our school parking lot as she shared her plans to leave the country at the end of the school year in June. Her husband was called to serve, years ago, where she met him building for the name of Christ. She stated this in a matter-of-fact manner and did not worry. This is God’s plan for them, she answered. She does not fear the unknown and opens her heart to new adventures. But my heart, again grew heavy, for it is bittersweet.
One friend resists; the other is flexible. How do I reconcile the two very different mindsets? I am saddened that both will be leaving but the one who relinquishes the control has less stress and worry. Both enter uncharted territory.
This is my flaw; I fear the unknown. I think of my dear girlfriend who cannot drive past her former foreclosed home, or business; her heart heavy. Each day as I park next to our building I think of her and count our blessings that our doors remain open another day. It used to be that I took these things for granted. The hubs continues to be anxious. He does not see the steady and loyal customers; he yearns for more. It is in this desire for more things, money, business, friends, looks that delivers us into the perfection game. This game we always lose.
It is in the relinquishing of these ties that open our hearts to more meaningful things, like relationships. The girlfriend survived her foreclosure and in her loss she found the strength of her community and her friends. It was this that I tried to communicate to my mourning neighbor as she contemplates uprooting the only life she has known.
In our countless moves we de-clutter; letting go of things that we’ve outgrown or hoarded. It used to be that I counted the items I owned, proudly showcasing them and, while on MySpace, the amount of friends in my profile. I learned that I was resilient when left on my own. After setting up my house, jobless and friendless, I made the trip to my nearest Catholic church and instantly felt welcomed. With time I made new friends and was exposed to relationships I would never have ever encountered. My life is richer for embracing the new and relinquishing the old. But each time I had to reconcile what I desired and evaluate what was important. Was it money? Friendships? Faith? Perfect children?
My heart still mourns the loss of things in my life. My parents, travel, disposable income, friends. But in the process I am discovering what is important and have realized it is simple. I continue to count my gifts for all that I do have. I am not perfect and will always struggle with being materialistic and keeping things sane and de-cluttered. The friends in my life will accept my limitations of time and maintenance or I must let them go. And I must humbly accept that I will spend most of my life reconciling the straight and narrow path versus the trails I travel.
I breathe deeply. I am letting things go.