In the quiet moments…
In the days ahead there will be many quiet moments that will highlight your Holiday season from Christmas to New Years.
I want to encourage you to listen in those moments. Listen for words and themes that seem to emerge in your life. It never fails for me, that as I stop from my normal routine for many things that seemed buried to start bubbling up.
Many times during the holidays we hear the message of “slow down so you can enjoy each moment”. And yes, of course… take joy in this season. Be still with your loved ones and calm your heart and remember why we celebrate. But as you slow yourself down to reflect on the year, you may find a flood of other emotions and realities creeping in… let’s not run from these things this year. Let’s face them together.
For me, it usually starts with the things that I am worried or fearful about. I start remember the things that I have tried to put off or push down. They come rushing in to me in feelings and in memories. They come in unfounded ‘what if’ scenarios. This is not a pleasant feeling, but it is real for me. This can be quickly followed up by regrets. I should have done this or I really wish I had done that. We all have them and it as if when our lives slow, regrets can rise to the surface.
Then it moves to things that I must simply do. No worry or stress with these things, just things that need to be done. I remember that in the days ahead that I have a presentation to have done or I need to call that person.
Then usually comes the realities… the plain facts. Thoughts like this: My oldest son will be a teenager this year. Or I will turn 40 in this coming year. These realities, can be daunting, but they are simply realities.
(Please note, they do not always come in this order, but this is what I usually experience in the quiet moments. I am not for sure how you will experience it, or to what degree, and in what order your thoughts will come, but when they come, pay attention)
As these thoughts come to you, there is a a lot of things that you can do with them. I am going to share with you what has been a helpful rhythm for me during this time of year: I compose a letter to myself.
Please stick with me for just a few more sentences, because this is not as crazy as it sounds.
I completely stole the idea from Saint John (not the apostle… I’m speaking of Johnny Cash). Each year he would write a letter to himself that would name the realities and worries of his life, the direction of the new year and reminders on who he was and what he was called to do. In the hard times of the year, he would pull this letter out and look at it. It would remind him of who he was and where he was going.
I have added one other dynamic to this practice. I try to discern what is a key word or phrase for each year. I do some goals and resolutions, but I focus more on the one word or phrase. This one word then defines all my goals, resolutions and such.
So here is what I encourage you to look for in the quiet moments.
Look for your worries, your to dos, your realities and your calling. What words are bubbling up that you need to hold onto? What truth do you need to be reminded of? What about your identity do you need to live more fully into.
Write down these possible words and phrases.
Start filtering your thoughts during the quiet moments through these words and phrases. I usually find that a few words or a phrase start to emerge as the main one. This one word or phrase will then be my word that I hold onto in the year to come.
Allow that word or phrase to propel you into the letter writing process. I will do a follow up post in a week or so on writing process itself. But for now, listen for the words to emerge that will shape your new year.
Merry Christmas to you all. May God help you see with clear eyes and clean hearts the word or phrase He has for you in 2016.