“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
After the hustle and bustle of December, we are expected to charge into January, guns blazing, our lists of resolutions tucked firmly under our arms. We make grand plans for personal growth and wellness: exercise more, eat less, cease smoking, stick to the budget, get organized. However it only takes us a few hours, days, or weeks (if we’re lucky) before we crash and burn. Why is this?
We never took the time to STOP. January isn’t the time to add stress upon stress. No matter how minimalist you are, December takes us all by force in some way. Whether it’s the challenge to say “no” to consumerism at every turn or “thank you” for gifts that we don’t really want or need, we are constantly trying to maintain the precarious balance between our internal beliefs and the external expectations around us. There is also the stress of relating carefully with loved ones who think differently from us through the holidays.
For those who jump into the shopping frenzy full swing, the stress is more blatant. We’ve all seen the Black Friday videos of humans gone mad over the greatest deals: stampeding, screaming, hitting, weeping in the aisles. Perhaps that’s not you exactly. But still, exhaustion and expectation hound us from store to store until every last, perfect (or good enough) gift is wrapped and under the tree.
Finally, it’s all over, and we breathe a week-long sigh of relief before we disrupt our schedules once more with a last hurrah: the New Year’s Eve all-nighter. And we wake up on January 1st, with our list of resolutions before us, and no resolve to begin. Sleep deprived, hung over (possibly), and behind on all aspects of normal daily life, we are told that today is the time to add new routines and drop our familiar, comfort-giving and de-stressing measures.
It’s simply too much to ask of any normal human being.
So don’t. Stop. Wait. Relax. Let January be your month to . . .
Life has enough troubles of its own for you to be adding more to it. Do you really want to beat out all the other newbies for a turn on the elliptical at the gym? Do you want to be another new face lost in the Weight Watchers crowd? Do you want to be fighting over that last organizing tote at Target?
Let everyone else jump in to the New Year with their resolution madness. Give them a month to wear themselves out and feel defeated before returning to their old ways. You can take a better, different path.
This month on the blog, I will be talking about how to make goals that last. Trust me, I will be writing to myself too here. 🙂 I will share a bit of prose on embracing the quiet of January, as well as introduce the concept of “slow goals.”
But, for today, as you prepare to welcome 2017, take out a piece of paper and write down 10 things (or more) that you are thankful for from 2016. Rejoice over what went well and acknowledge what didn’t. Think about changes that would bring more joy and purpose to your life in the coming year. Dream. It doesn’t cost you a thing, and it buoys the spirit to remove the filters (thanks, Brian Dixon) and imagine, “What if I . . .?” or “What I’d really like to do is . . .”
Let these thoughts of gratitude and anticipation simmer this month. Soon, we will put together a framework to set up goals that last not just for one year, but for a lifetime. Not just yet, though. For now,
Cheers! To a January of “Rest.”
To help you get started with your time of reflection, I am giving away a copy of Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling. It is a lovely, rose-colored, imitation leather gift edition for women. To enter to win, please leave a comment below, sharing one thing you are thankful for from 2016. The contest ends at 11:59 p.m. CST, Monday, January 2nd. Good luck!
(Update: Congratulations to Carmen at A Simple Homestead, who won the Jesus Calling book. Thanks to all who left a comment whether here or on the Facebook page or via email- you were all included in the drawing.)
(Disclaimer: I have not read and therefore do not personally endorse this book. I received it in error from a company I placed an order with, and they permitted me to keep it. I do know many people who love Jesus Calling, though, and thought perhaps one of my readers would like to own this beautiful gift edition.)