It’s December 28th.
I’ve been fighting a nagging feeling since December 26th.
After spending all month long making preparations for Christmas, creating a magical environment with lots of decorations and lights, it all seemed to grind to a halt as soon as the sun set on Christmas day.
I’ve been feeling a little like I needed to smoke a cig in the afterglow of Christmas, put on my big girl panties, and move on with life…
Be more efficient.
Get in shape.
It came over me in waves. I wanted so desperately to make this season special and meaningful, but I have my whole life waiting in the wings for me to get it all together, figure it all out. I felt something inside immediately putting immense pressure on my self to perform. I guess I thought something really special was going to happen on January 1st…I was finally going to be all the things I failed to be in 2015. I was going to do all the things that I had not done in 2015.
I was aware that this was all an attack on my spirit, but I was having a really hard time fighting it off. I even asked my husband how we could hold on to all the beauty and celebration of Christmas and Incarnation. I did not want to cheapen Christmas by dismissing it as soon as it was over, leaving it a nice, but distant memory as we moved on to the next thing. New Years resolution ads are in full swing and I even saw a few mentions of Valentine’s day….
He told me, “I’m still here. Linger here with me. The beauty and majesty of the Incarnation doesn’t go away the day after Christmas. The magic isn’t over yet. I’m not done showing you how much I love you.”
It was so merciful and tender and spoken so gently to my heart. It brought to mind one of my favorite quotes from Dallas Willard: “Ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.” I love the grace in his words! I love that he gives permission to slow down, and yes, to linger a little longer…even if the rest of the world is leaving you in its dust. Jesus is still right here with me and he is inviting me to stay with the story of rescue and redemption in Christmas for a little longer.
At the risk of sounding a little redundant, I really have to recommend the Tudor Monastery Farm Christmas series. We actually used the Farm series and Christmas episodes as our history curriculum for our homeschool throughout most of November and December. My boys love them and we have learned so much watching them together! It has helped me so much to learn about how Christmas was celebrated over a twelve day period that actually began on Christmas Eve and lasted into the new year. I love that it was unhurried and relished. It has taught me a lot about what it used to look like to linger in the Christmas season. It was key to help people through the bleak days of winter. This year, I would like to take some notes from the people and the celebrations depicted in the Tudor Monastery Farm Christmas series. I’m even thinking about making 12th night cake!
Yes, there is a lot of work to be done in 2016, and it’s good and holy. “Grace is not opposed to effort, it’s opposed to earning.” ~Dallas Willard.
Effort will come. I need to grow in my walk with Jesus this year. I need to mature. I need to do a better job at managing my life…specifically I need to learn to partner with Jesus in my regeneration instead of trying to take it on all by my lonesome, or expecting him to do all the work for me…as though he were a short order cook, or a genie in a bottle. I desperately need transformation in my heart, mind and body. The time for all that will come soon enough, and yesterday Jesus gave me this nugget of grace for the work ahead:
“The invasion of the personality by life from above…does not of itself restore the soul into the wholeness intended for it in its creation…Intelligent and steady implementation of plans for change are required if I am to loose the incoherence of the broken soul.” Dallas Willard (Posted on Dallas Willard Center for Spiritual Formation‘s Facebook page)
I need 2016 to be a year of transformation and I certainly need to partner with the Holy Spirit to implement an intelligent plan for change. I was talking to my sister, Starla about all that has been on my heart, and she shared this verse with me:
For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and not delay. Habakkuk 2:3
“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” Philippians 1:6
Yesterday I listened to John Eldredge and Craig McConnell on the Ransomed Heart podcast. It was as if they knew exactly what was on my heart, and they decided to do a podcast just for me! I don’t think what I have been feeling is unique or different from what almost everyone feels around this time of year. There is so much mercy and grace in their words. If you are feeling like the rush to the next thing is too much, and you want to try to learn to linger like me, check out Ransomed Heart’s podcast, “Don’t Make the Shift.” You will be blessed! ~Shanna
p.s. John Eldredge mentions the Day of Epiphany in this podcast. I didn’t even know what that was, so I had to look it up on Wikipedia. For those of you who don’t know, it’s to celebrate the coming of the Magi and is traditionally celebrated on January 6th. Do any of you celebrate the Day of Epiphany, or Three Kings Day? Could you share some of the ways you celebrate it? What are your traditions? It’s unfamiliar territory, but I would love to mark the day with some kind of celebration or acknowledgement. Maybe I’ll save my 12th night cake for Three Kings Day! If you have any suggestions for us, please feel free to share your ideas in the comments! God bless!!!!