Start. Continue. (How to Plan for Courage)

I am an impeccable starter. In fact, I was ahead of 2014, letting my goals begin a few days before the new year. The passion that drives my decisions is so bold that nothing can deter me from being convinced that homeschooling or adoption or healthy eating or writing is not the absolutely best way to use my time and talents, all arguments be damned.

This year, my word for growth is courage. It feels like courage, of course, to be signing up for new things and setting goals.

This year, my personal goals look like this:

  • In all, be courageous. Let myself and others be free. Choose vulnerability as a road to courage. Courageously walk and courageously fail. I am held.
  • Diversify my circle of friends. Love more people and love people more. Let the possibilities surprise me.
  • Take steps in my writing career. (This includes poetry writing, progress on my novel, and publication.) Function as though my writing career already exists…because it does.
  • Do the hard work of learning (particularly in Ethiopian culture studies, health studies, and writing studies).

What those pursuits will look like when I’m in the weeds of them? I haven’t a clue. I have found that goals, in time, affect my family and friends — for good or ill; they do not always look so pretty and predictable in the long haul. Goals turn stressful when they collide with the comfortable arrangement of people around me. I can pursue my goals without relationship, of course. But relationship, really, is what I need, and people have a surprising way of sharpening me and my offerings to the world.

Stop starting. Start Finishing. That’s what my husband, Kyle, had scrawled on his office whiteboard for a good year. I don’t know what the finish will look like in 2014. So I’ll adapt his mantra to insinuate the courage I’m asking God to develop in me when the going gets tough: Start. Continue.

Start. Continue. Continue when surprising circumstances feel more like annoying interruptions; surprises, too, are invitations to live wholly. Continue to rest in God when the glamor of new goals has worn off, when I am in the throes of studying material I can’t remember signing up for.

I am already finding that courage is more in the stepping than the planning.

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