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Amazing Possibilities!

  • Writer's pictureMatthew Kelly

Reclaim: What Do You Need to Reclaim?

When people share with me what is happening deep in their souls, they often say things like...

“I feel like something is missing.”

“I feel like there must be more to life.”

“I feel like I have so much more to offer.”

People younger than you would think, and people older than you would expect, share these very same sentiments.

We describe them as feelings, but they are not. Well, they may be feelings, but they are also so much more than that. We describe them as feelings because we lack two things: the courage to claim them as sacred truths and the spiritual language to adequately describe them.

Worse than lacking the courage to claim these as sacred truths about ourselves, we often treat them as human malfunctions. We think of them as negative experiences. We view them as problems to be solved. We think that something is wrong with us, and that we need to be fixed.

Nothing could be further from the truth. When you experience this type of yearning and restlessness, you don’t need to be fixed, and you are not malfunctioning. When you sense that something is missing, that there must be more to life, or that you have so much more to offer—something is very, very right!

The message you are receiving is from the very deepest part of you. The most authentic part of you is trying to get your attention. You are being beckoned by the truest part of you, the part of yourself that is simply incapable of betraying itself, and out- right refuses to settle for anything less than the-very-best-version-of you.

Your soul is trying to get your attention, and ignoring the soul never ends well.

Listen. Follow. Go where it leads you. Don’t brush these messages aside. Don’t try to avoid them or pretend they don’t exist. Be patient. After all, if you cannot be patient with your very self, how will you ever muster the character to be patient with life as it unfolds and with other people?

Another mistake we make is to get frustrated thinking we have already dealt with these matters. These are not once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon. They tend to emerge anew whenever necessary, in different seasons of life, especially during transitions.

And we are constantly experiencing the transitions of life, though we often don’t acknowledge them. We transition from life in the womb to life outside the womb, and so it begins. That first transition is traumatic for an infant, and many of life’s transitions after are also traumatic. And unacknowledged trauma is the hardest trauma to make peace with.

We transition from high school to college, from college to the workplace, from one job to another, from one romantic relationship to another, from being a child to being a parent, from being healthy to dealing with illness, from a bustling home with children to an empty nest, from being parents to being grandparents, to name but a sampling of life’s transitions.

Life is full of transitions. Life is a transition.

So, if you have the sense that something is missing, you are absolutely and 100% right. Don’t doubt that. Explore it. Resist the temptation to be in a hurry to resolve it and accept its invitation to journey wherever it leads you.

Toward the end of each year, I spend time reflecting on the year that has been and the year that is to come. As part of one of the exercises that make up this annual ritual, I choose a word to serve as a theme for the coming year. The word I chose for this year was reclaim.

Life is a series of gains and losses. Those gains and losses take many forms. Friends come and go, opportunities come and go, and we gift little pieces of ourselves to the special people in our lives while other people steal pieces. Sometimes logical, sometimes paradoxical. We gain things we wish we could lose, and lose things we spend the rest of our lives mourning or trying to recover.

Reclaim is defined as: to retrieve, recover, or obtain the return of something previously lost, given, or stolen.

It’s a good definition, but I’d like to add one small, but important, amendment to it. To reclaim something is to retrieve, recover, or obtain a right relationship with something previously lost, given or stolen.

What do you need to reclaim?

It’s time to reclaim whatever has been lost, stolen, or given in error (either because we deceived ourselves or were manipulated by others). It’s time to reclaim your life. It’s time to reclaim yourself.

There are so many ways we need to reclaim. I began by brain- storming a list with some colleagues and we quickly arrived at more than 100 aspects of life and self that needed to be reclaimed. You can find that list here.

Now, I invite you to consider the other option. Reclaim... or what? What is the other option? If you don’t reclaim what you uniquely need to reclaim, what will happen? What won’t happen? What damage will be done to the best and purest parts of you?

If we reclaim what is rightfully ours and help others to do the same, I believe we will enter a new period of human flourishing. This is my hope, dream, and prayer for you: May you flourish as the person you were created you to be—unique and wonderful—like never before.

So, if you have the sense that something is missing, or that there must be more to life, or that you have so much more to contribute... I am incredibly excited for you. Don’t ignore it, avoid it, or push it away. Embrace it as a precious gift. If you do, I promise you, something wonderful is about to happen!

Matthew Kelly

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