Alright. So it’s the Christmas season. Peace, joy, love, cold, latté, these are all words thrown this way and that during this time. But peace isn’t that easy to come by, especially when, speaking to my situation alone, exams haven’t even finished and Christmas is in eight days. Zero shopping is done (fortunately, I’ve already made the decision to not even try this year). From any perspective, I’m in a tight spot.
The word “peace” is defined by the online dictionary as “freedom of the mind from annoyance, distraction, anxiety, an obsession, etc.; tranquillity; serenity.”
Just stop for a minute and reflect on that sentence. Or reflect on the one you just read: do I even know how to reflect, anymore? I had to ask myself that question as I wrote out the definition. I don’t know that I do. Friends of mine describe me as “always busy” or “never available” and I get a kick out of it. It gives me great satisfaction to know that I’ve made my schedule so complex and convoluted that I’ve lost touch with the people who mean the most to me. The most twisted part, though, I think, is that I look at my schedule and don’t know how to weed things out that aren’t necessary. Yes, there are unnecessaries in my life. What are they?
Well, for starters, I wake up at 5:40 every morning and arrive at the gym “no later than 6:15” so that I can finish the “full” workout that I’ve designated as adequate for myself. I could cut that short or even out from time to time, give myself time to wake up slowly or time to take a deep breath and stretch or do yoga or drink a cup of coffee or talk to a loved one. The list goes on.
Another un-necessity would be the late night post-work or post-study snack. That’s not to say I should not eat if I’m hungry. But if I didn’t feel the need to down something right after a long day and right before rest, maybe rest would be more fulfilling.
Peace was my word this year. At the beginning of 2014 I chose a theme word, because it’s always been a topic with which I struggle. My boyfriend asked me the other day if I thought I did a good job applying it to my year. My only response was that I have definitely grown in it but I have a long way to go. Completely accurate. I caution those who read this that it’s not going to come together quickly. Sometimes peace will only come in tiny doses, in the deep breath before a big exam, or in the hug from your mom or sister or son when you see them this Christmas, or in the thirty minutes before you fall asleep with which you decided to read your favorite novel instead of read distressing news or cram for a final exam.
It goes hand in hand with trust. Trust that you’ve done what you can and the rest isn’t up to you anymore. For myself, that’s a trust in God that no matter what score I get or how well I argue a point or how well I dress today or if I gain weight over the holiday or if I exercise for x amount of time versus x plus an hour. Trust that Matthew 6:33 speaks the truth, that if I seek first validation in my identity as a child of God, then everything is under his control. Then I’m not responsible for more than is asked of me.
But there’s another aspect of peace.
The internal peace that comes from walking away. If you’re engaged in something distressing. Something disturbing. Something terrifying. Something that’s draining you, that won’t benefit you if you perpetuate. Something that supplies anxiety and distraction. What good is it to stick around? I’m sitting here in Caribou Coffee drinking blueberry tea and asking my headache to please leave.
I’ve walked away from hardly anything this year, in the beginning of the situation, and it takes a complete and undeniable exhaustion for me to say “hey, maybe this isn’t such a good place to be, not having a spare moment to sit and reflect.” I definitely look at that sentence and think, well duh. But how easy is it to let that just become the status quo, without intentional moments of respite?
So my challenge for myself, and for all who read these words, is choose and apply a word that can help you remember to take care of yourself in the year 2015. I’ve already chosen my word: rest. It’s such an easy word to say but takes real intention and determination and grace to step back from a situation. To think about how rest can look and feel every single day. Let’s see how this feels, two thousand fifteen.