pushing, pulling, letting go.

January 1st. Another year passed, a new one awaits. The older I get the faster it seems time goes (and the freakier it feels). Last year I wrote about being less mean, more gentle with myself, and I would say that all in all things moved in a little better direction. Earlier in 2015,  I made a list of things I wanted to do that year in some shape or form that made me happy. It was far better than resolutions, and when I reviewed the list a few months ago I was surprised that I actually did most of them. That made me smile.

However, despite all I know about the danger of new-year-dreams, I can feel that familiar feeling creeping in–the “I’ve got to get a few things nailed down this year that I never can seem to nail down” feeling.

I am resisting it because I know where it will lead and oh, it’s nowhere good.

In the wake of news of the non-indictment of Tamir Rice this past week, I was also struck by how easy it is to keep so many of these painful things swirling around in the world far away when thinking of the new year. Usually, when I’m resolutioning (no matter what you want to call it), I’m thinking about me, me, me.  I loved Parker Palmer’s thoughts on that, along with five amazing resolutions I want to keep coming back to.

I just got returned from a really lovely 3 days in Hawaii with 4 of our 5 kids (We fly free and do crazy stuff like that all the time. As the kid get older, it’s dreamy to be together in any way we can). On one of our hikes, I was thinking about how I hope this new year is a strong and brave mix of three things–pushing, pulling, letting go.

Pushing, pulling, letting go. 

Pushing – There’s a lot to push against. When it comes to issues of justice and systemic change, if we remain passive, if we don’t push, if we don’t rock the boat, if we don’t call out the status quo, things will remain the same. They just will. There’s a big cost to pushing against power (and systems). People will be annoyed. People won’t like us speaking out. People will say we’re not playing nice. But the reality is that change will not come from being “nice.” Change comes from tension, from push. In 2016, I want to bravely push against injustice, inequality, and the horrid divide against “us and them” in whatever forms I can. With a whole bunch of people pushing, things really can tip, and the kingdom of God Jesus called us to cultivate can keep bursting through. For others of us, pushing might not mean pushing against systems, but it’s about pushing through hard stuff when you want to give up, pushing through fear when you are are afraid, pushing through resistance in all kinds of different ways.

Pulling – One of my favorite images from healing & recovery ministry is of somehow being in the dark but holding on to someone’s hand on either side of us. The person ahead is pulling us, reminding us of the truth, helping us heal, shining a guiding light. And then our hands are firmly gripped on someone else’s who is struggling, too, and needs someone ahead of them on the path, beckoning them to keep moving. Someone called it a form of an underground railroad, helping people to freedom (and still one of my favorite faith shifting images). When it comes to healing of all shapes and sizes–pain, relationships, faith, sobriety, and everything in between–we need a hand to hold on to. And we need to hold someone else’s, too. In 2016, one of my dreams is to hopefully get “Hope Cafe” up and running, This would be an online space for some of the classes & groups we’ve created and an in-real-life recovery community that’s more intentional and accessible than what The Refuge has now.

Letting Go – Oh, letting go is one of the hardest things for me. I hold on to things really tightly; while it can be a good quality in terms of loyalty and faithfulness, it can also be a detriment. 2016 is a year for letting go of relationships-that-need-to-be-let-go-of, letting go of some of the past that’s been hashed through over and over and over, letting go of what is safe and comfortable, letting go of what I’ve always done, we’ve always done. I’m excited about it but nervous, too. Part of what always keep me holding on to certain things is fear. I like to be in control. I like people to like me. I like to keep things stable. I’ve been practicing opening handedness, where I literally move my hands from a tight grip to an open-faced palm. It’s an interesting exercise that invokes a visceral response.  This year, my prayer is simple. God, please help me keep loosening my grip. 

These are just a few things I want to push on, pull for, let go of. We all have different ones.

What do you know you need to keep pushing against in 2016?

Who or what is pulling you toward freedom in some small way right now? Who or what do you need to keep pulling? 

What do you need to keep letting go of?

Mostly, in 2016, I want to be a person of the moment.

Here. Present. Open. Brave. Willing.

I love Maya Angelou’s wise words:

“I have great respect for the past. If you don’t know where you’ve come from, you don’t know where you’re going. I have respect for the past, but I’m a person of the moment. I’m here, and I do my best to be completely centered at the place I’m at, then I go forward to the next place.”

Here’s to a 2016 filled with pushing, pulling, letting go.

Peace, Kathy


ps: for those of you who like to do a little more reflection on the past year and consider the one ahead, here’s my annual “looking back, looking forward” exercise in word & pdf to modify in any way you want.

pss: tomorrow, a little end-of-year blog birthday round up (8 years, yikes!)

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Kathy Escobar

Kathy Escobar is dedicated to creating safe and brave spaces for transformation and healing in real life, online, and outside. She co-pastors at The Refuge, a hub for healing community, social action, and creative collaboration in North Denver, co-directs #communityheals, a non-profit organization dedicated to making spaces for transformation accessible for all, and is the author of Practicing: Changing Yourself to Change the World, Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart and several other books.


  • Love your intention about pushing against injustice. You’re so right how it ruffles feathers or turns over tables but we need to be more like Jesus! Happy New Year! So glad to find your blog!

  • Love from here Kathy, I’ll be forever grateful for your lantern lighting the way for my journey on the Underground Railroad.


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