Complete Stop

photo credit: ell brown via photopin cc
photo credit: ell brown via photopin cc

Internal tension reaches a fever pitch the week between Christmas and New Year’s. So much mental and physical energy is spent getting to Christmas, and then…done. We have our day or two of detox, yet life doesn’t quite return to normal. The Christmas tree and decorations are packed away but the kids are still home. I am always in a bit of a netherworld during this time. Naturally, as the New Year approaches I take stock of the previous year, and anticipate the next…thoughts turning toward new goals and ways to improve self. After being on this planet as long as I have, and having only ONE resolution stick, EVER, I know to be reticent seeking big changes. New habits don’t happen overnight, requiring intentional small choices over an extended period of time to take purchase.

After the month of parties and not running, I notice my pants are fitting not as kindly. Previously, I would jerk quickly toward temporary correction…dieting, plans to exercise more, self loathing. Like a car skidding on ice, the worst thing to do is jerk the wheel. Instead it must be gently guided back on track, or better yet, pulled over to a complete stop before moving forward.

This morning, after a day of paying way too much credence to my pants fitting problem, I realized the essentiality of a complete stop. My mental, physical and spiritual health require far more than two days post-Christmas 2014 to commence on Project New Year 2015.  Of course the tension is present, the tension of living in the ache of Advent conjoined with joy, expectation and hope, along with the inevitable forward trajectory of life.  I do not want to short circuit this important work by rushing headlong into new goals, expectations and improvements. This week represents the magnitude of what God has done for us through the sending of Jesus. It is not to be considered lightly, requiring me to live small. To set my course well, reflection, thoughtfulness, generosity and grace are all required, along with evaluation of where I am cutting corners, expecting too much or little, and making assumptions.

Dreaming is scary business, asking the question, “What do I really want?” Fear is quite a contender when seeking these answers. I have a problematic tendency to believe old goals and dreams, not accomplished to the level of my expectations should be renewed.  It is probably time to let them go, while beneficial in the past, they are not to remain part of my present and future.

So, in this week (or more) of waiting and resting I will practice what Anne Lamott calls “radical self care”. I will walk, eat until satisfied, go to bed and wake up early, drink coffee, pray and write, date my husband, clean the house, wear stretchy clothes, and spend time with family and friends. I will protect my mind and heart by minimizing comparisons to others..Facebook may need to be curtailed. I know when I’m in a fragile or contemplative state, it’s important to protect from the potential pitfalls of social media. Experiencing the “less than”, the “lack” is difficult but so important. I don’t want to trudge ahead without concern for what is best for myself, my relationships, just because I’m feeling vulnerable…being excessively focused on the markers that determine my self-worth.  Is joy possible in the midst of these moments? I have to believe that it is entirely possible. Joy is always mine when I can surrender…surrender my need for significance and longing for more or better. I may have to fight for her, but she is mine as long as I settle to a complete stop and trust. Wait. Learn. Embrace. Rest.

There is no need to rush or be premature. I want to approach 2015 intentionally, without fear, but with anticipation.