Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Choosing to 'own it' for 2016






The moment I’d worked for had arrived.
For a couple years, I’ve wanted to make a family photo book that would capture and preserve our year. In 2015, I did it. I started the book around February, and worked on it occasionally during the year.
I spent valuable time selecting and editing photos, coordinating backgrounds, working on visually appealing layouts and journaling. By the time Shutterfly announced a 50-percent off all photobooks promotion to start 2016, I was far enough along in designing my book to be able to utilize that opportunity--making my large book affordable.
I made a final push to finish, putting other projects on hold to meet my deadline.
And I was successful.
Twenty-four hours before the deadline, I proofed my work for the final time. I clicked the order button. I bypassed the add-on options--except for the nifty memorabilia pocket. Then it loaded. And loaded. And loaded. And loaded. And then, nothing.
I clicked again. I went through the add-on process again. And it loaded, again. I’m not sure how many times I went through that process, but all of the State of the Union speech took place in the time I waited. I was frustrated, but not panicked. There was still time to complete my transaction, and I hoped for a different result in the morning.
However, I only experienced more of the same. I called the company, hoping for something helpful. But the phone representative didn’t have any useful advice, and brushed off my request for a promotional extension.
I e-mailed the company. I social media-ed the company. They answered, but nothing worked. For all intents and purposes, I got the run-around. And I also lost my book (which will no longer even load), my chance at the promotion and my faith in the company.
If only Shutterfly would have owned up to the problem, it would have gone a long way to restore my opinion of the organization. As it is, thanks to my resident IT guy, I know the problem doesn’t reside on my desk.
And I’ll admit, I was mad. I wasted my time and I lost out on affordability.
But in my 2015 Project: Restore, I started learning a lot about emotions. How emotions are indicators, but don’t have to be determiners. How part of restoration is retraining the brain to process emotions in a healthier way. How I don’t have to ask “why me?” but instead, “what can I learn?”
Those tools helped. I’m still leary of using the company to re-do my work. And guess what? I don’t have to! But this situation also gave me another perspective to my 2016 word, claim.
The last several years, instead of a resolution, I’ve picked a word meant to encompass an area of personal growth. Last year, my word was restore. This year, it was clear by the beginning of December what my new focus would be.
Interestingly, the two words flowed right together. Imagine that.
Full restoration isn’t possible without moving forward to claim. And at first, claim didn’t seem so scary. I mean, claiming God’s promises! Yes and hallelujah.  



Then the full-scale processing happened. Not only will I choose to march forward into those promises in crossing-the-Jordan fashion, I will also need to claim all the hard, painful traumatic parts of my past.
But I will not be wallowing. I will be healing as I’m claiming.
I will do what Shutterfly did not.
I will own up to my past that didn’t treat me as I would have wanted. I will own my father’s abandonment and claim the truth that I am never alone. I will own the grief of my brother’s death and claim the truth of his life--and recover memories of his happy personality.
I will own the trauma of high school and claim the truth of beauty from ashes. And I will continue that path of owning and claiming as I walk through the river--on dry ground--and enter the promised land where the freedom that only Christ can provide is waiting to be claimed.

(This writing was originally published for my Lipstick & Pearls column in the 1.20.2016 edition of the Hillsboro Free Press.)

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