After reading and re-reading my own post, I feel I need to offer a bit of a precursory statement. I’m over here on the blog talking about “slowing down” like it’s some grandiose thing, like it’s a choice that everyone should make. I want to be the first to say that I know full well, from the changing seasons of my own life, that this is not always even an option. Many people are in situations where their livelihood picks up during this time of the year. Work isn’t an option. Diapers and teething and sick kids don’t usually get the memo “Hey, I’d like a more peaceful holiday season, okay?”. Some folks are in a stage of grief or pain, where slowing down would only serve to intensify the struggle; they actually NEED to keep busy and distracted.
Please know, and let me acknowledge the validity of all those things. I’m writing from a perspective that I am currently in, from one I am going to guess might connect with others who might be experiencing similar things. But to the family, friends and other readers who might read and want to smack me, because they’d love to slow down, and just can’t… I get it. I have been there too. There is no ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ when it comes to life…just sharing where we are at, and what we are thinking, to help whomever it may.
That being said…
Slowing down is no easy thing for me. I’m a do-er, a ‘git ‘er done‘ kind of gal. Except it doesn’t always work out to live this way all the time. After an extended period of this, it often ends with an ‘ouch’.
A very easy and vivid example of what I mean is the fact that I’m actually typing this post while lying flat on my back. The reason for this isn’t because the creativity of writing flows better while horizontal, it’s because I spent about four weeks straight living like a mad-woman on a mission. We had decided we were going to roll the dice on the real estate market and list our house for sale. However, after nearly a decade of raising 4 small children into highly active teenagers, our little rancher has seen a lot of wear and tear. The kind that needs to be ‘touched up’ to impress prospective buyers. So I dove in full force, and took the bull by the horns. I was painting, sanding, tearing out carpet, and hanging out second-story windows to clean those suckers (a job that had been neglected for longer than I’ll ever admit because of the absolute insane level of difficulty of doing so.)
The combination of jobs, topped off with my body-twisting aerial stunts resulted in a stretched nerve in my back causing me all sorts of pain, numbness, tingling and immobility. For the past 4 ½ weeks. We’re talking doctors, pain killers, muscle relaxers, chiropractors, massage and physical therapy. And I’m still on my back.
The hard lesson in this is that I’m in this spot, at least in part, because I just couldn’t slow down and do things at a reasonable pace. Instead of shooting out ahead, I’m further behind, and the house won’t be listed minimally for another few months.
While I could languish and bemoan that fact, I’m instead learning a valuable lesson and looking for opportunities.
Going into the holiday season with limited physical functionality has actually been a perfectly timed wake-up call for me. Sometimes God needs to get firm with us when He’s trying to get a message through to our heads. If I wasn’t forced to be so still so much of the time these days, I’m pretty sure I’d be missing it again.
I looked back to my blog posts from last year and initially found it a bit discouraging that I seem to have been talking about the very same thing around this time last year… “Too much! Overload! Must.slow.down.” And at the end of all that rushing and racing, there was an ‘ouch’ also. This past week, two members of my family said they felt like they missed Christmas entirely last year, and felt disappointment that we had rushed through it and then ‘boom’, it was gone.
Apparently this is a cyclical (or simply ongoing?) struggle. But this year seems to have brought us some newly opened time.
Ironically, it was through some unexpected changes and disappointments that this blessing in disguise has been delivered. Had these tougher things not come, I’m thinking this December would have been a repeat of last year.
In the past several months, we as a family we were bummed out by not getting certain things we thought we wanted. Things like not getting into certain things auditioned for, for not being able to list our house for sale when I thought we should, and for the out-of-the-blue shutdown of a theater that one was involved with a Christmas production. As parents, we questioned our own ‘laxness’ for not pushing another one to involvement with a club or instrument, and ended up missing sign-up deadlines. And of course, the added frustration of my current injury.
But because of these “no’s” that were given to us, more than chosen, I’m sighing with a bit of relief when I look at the calendar right now. We don’t have every single evening filled from start to finish. We are having time to think, and even talk as a family, about what we want these weeks of holiday time to look and feel like. There is excitement and anticipation for simple things like listening to Christmas music, cozy evenings at home with the glow of the lights, and for the first time ever doing a ‘Jesse Tree‘ devotional as a family. It’s actually rather exciting.
Last year I was writing about barely keeping up and letting go of the unnecessaries. This year is a different ‘season’…figuratively speaking. Our family is in a different place (and I’m quite sure next year will be altogether different again!). And in reading last year’s posts, and writing what I am now, I also am reminded how there is NO ‘one-size-fits-all’, this is the ‘right’ way to do things. Priorities aren’t necessarily ‘fixed’ things. Different times in life call for adjustment of what is “good” and what is “best” and what is “necessary”.
I guess what I’m trying to get at is this. I am hoping to encourage you to tune in to the time and the place and the people that God has you in and among right now. For me, it is the opportunity to slow down. It’s choosing to see blessing in what we could focus on as some losses (and lest it sounds all ‘pie in the sky’, it’s often not an easy thing to not dwell on the frustration or disappointments!). But I am trying to be conscious to push back against the things that make me feel ‘driven’…not just from the outside, but even from within myself. I am trying allow myself to enjoy the blessings that are to be found in the things I thought I didn’t want. Without tuning in and allowing God to reveal the joy amidst the pain, I would be totally focused and consumed with all that is going on around me, and miss what the Holy Spirit is doing within me.
One of my acts of ‘pushing back’ against being driven in these weeks is fairly simple (not easy, but simple). Acceptance and trust. Acceptance of some struggle, some disappointment, some changed plans. Trust that God is good all the time, and that He has good plans and intentions for me and mine….even if they don’t always look like what I think they should. I can have peace, no matter the circumstance, if I choose to allow Christ to bring it to me, and not try to scramble or grasp after my version of it.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. ~Colossians 3:15