Learning the unforced rhythms of grace


Roll Back

Every so often, I hear a rolling sound coming from the basement. It happens a few times an hour and it turned out to be my husband rolling his chair a few feet back from his painting. His studio is in our basement and he does this whether it is a small or large painting. He says "it's easy to lose track of the bigger picture if I stay too close". 

With five days until the Christmas festivities begin . . . I think it's a good time to roll back for a bigger perspective. I'm going to take a practical approach and consider it as just 'one week', at the end of December, which may have already been a fully-scheduled month. So, here's five ways we can roll back for a bigger perspective!

1. Confirm your plans: If you have been hoping to  enjoy some home time . . . then book those times on your calendar. Plan to stay home and watch a movie in the afternoon. Too often we say 'yes' to good things but they may not be the 'best' for what you're needing. Parties or shopping or crowds are not necessarily what this week has to be for you.  Maybe some good old solitude or family time is what you need. Go for it. Book it on the calendar. Pull out some games. Watch movies, nap. You'll remember this in January and feel glad you did.

2. Make solid decisions: your neighbour just dropped off cookies and although you're grateful, you're now wondering if you should return the favour. Choose who you will give gifts to and then stop adding to the list. Guilt sneaks in unaware and causes stressful-obligatory-to-do lists. Make a list, stop, and assess it again next year. 

Photo: Zac Hayashi

Photo: Zac Hayashi


3. Edit expectations: Trying to get the house perfect before people arrive? Hoping to bake huge amounts of cookies? The house might be more perfect if it was cozy and relaxed and it's really okay to pick up some Tim Horton's donuts to feed a crowd!  We try to pack in so many things between Christmas and New Years but it's just one week. Maybe there are other ways to accomplish what we want . . . but in a more relaxed way.


4. Plan for January: Too often January hits and it's easy to feel like everything has to be serious and scheduled and stressful again. Look at the calendar. . . can you book an evening off in January to take down the tree in a relaxed way? Can you invite some friends over for popcorn and a movie in the middle of the month to enjoy your friendship? There is so much emphasis on the one week of holidays that if we don't see big picture we lose sight of the reality that we can enjoy dinner and friendship in January. Right? So look ahead, plan some time to relax, or get together with friends or volunteer somewhere in January. Why not? This way, there is less pressure on the one week to need to 'be all' for you. Life is long, there is another month coming after New Years . . . so plan to enjoy it. 

Photo: Zac Hayashi

Photo: Zac Hayashi

5. Imagine outcomes: Since you've rolled back and you're looking at things from a farther out view than before, imagine what outcomes you want. To feel rested? refreshed? to lay on the floor in the winter sunshine? to have laughed really hard and enjoyed something full-out! Would you want to have read part of a book on the couch while someone else made dinner? Could you have shared your home and the tasks that go with it? Have you wanted to volunteer at a food bank or help at a downtown mission but have never suggested it to the family? Maybe this year you could? Do you want to enter January with your finances in control? Maybe spending 15 minutes a day doing some paperwork in your room would help you emerge more rested? Who knows?

So, I lift my coffee cup to you this afternoon - clink!

Let's be pro-active this Christmas season. Let's roll back and see the big picture. Let's remember what is important and so we can find rest and refreshment as we celebrate Jesus and spend time with family and friends and some time alone too. Imagine emerging from these next few weeks better than before. Our world could use some rested and ready-to-get-to-work kind of people, wouldn't you say? 

Merry Christmas! :)