My Friday consisted of a few hours of work, a long-overdue lunch with a friend, and an evening playing with my grand girls, blowing bubbles and playing in the fresh spring-green grass. Spending my time in such a way filled my bucket with love and joy, AND provided space for the Divine to enter in and permeate my very being.
It was in stark contrast to the events of March 31st, when I turned the page in my planner to April. In doing so I got a glimpse of what the month ahead entailed. It was shocking to see the number of squares that already held entries. How could I possibly have so many commitments and activities when the month had not yet begun? Upon reflection, I realized I am someone who thrives on needing to be busy. Maybe it is the fact that life as a widow is sometimes very lonely, and having things to do often softens the feeling of isolation. Or maybe I know when I slow down enough to think, the hard things in my life come into focus, and I don’t really know how to deal with them.
What I have discovered is when my life is always filled with activity, it is difficult to find the down-time for which I long. There is little opportunity to assess where my life is, and where I desire it to go. It means I am playing catch up on housework, bill-paying, and the constant presence of unpacked boxes in the basement from the recent downsizing and move. Then there are the times when I miss out on the joy-filled moments with grandkids or a bike ride with a friend. Without the much-needed “down time,” I face the danger of burn-out or stress-induced illness and anxiety. And this is the life I do not want to be living.
When I get to this point, I know it is time for a change. Time to assess my commitments and really look at how I am spending the majority of my waking hours. Self-examination is no easy task. It requires peeling off the mask that I put on for others… the one that makes it look like my life is neatly put together. So I stop filling my time with those things that do not add value. I limit mindless television to just a show or two for winding down, and instead read a quality book. Or spend some time doing stretching and breathing through my yoga practice. I schedule time with my grandkids, preparing for their visit so I am able to be fully present. Then there is the need to carve out time for friends, for this is vital for me, as well.
All of this helps me to focus on what really matters in my life, and helps me draw closer to the Creator. A busy life is hard to manage on my own. When I forget to invite the Creator in, it gets even more difficult. Matthew 11: 28-30 is a great reminder for me on where to turn when things are challenging. “Come to me, all you who are struggling hard and carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Put on my yoke, and learn from me. I’m gentle and humble. And you will find rest for yourselves. My yoke is easy to bear, and my burden is light.” (CEB)
So I seek to create space almost every day for time with the Divine. Journaling, devotional and scripture reading, and plain old quiet time all center my heart and allow the Creator to come alongside me. When this happens, I discover the Creator is guiding me toward activities and relationships which help me grow in my faith, and in my love of myself.
FOR FURTHER THOUGHT
Have you ever looked at your calendar and wondered, “How did some many squares get filled with commitments?" You are invited to assess what you see in the black and white squares, and ask yourself: What is essential? What am I able to deal with? What can be taken off my calendar? What can be delegated to another person? Then, schedule some quiet time with the Creator 3-4 times in this next week. Has this practice brought you closer to God? How so? Take some time to jot down these insights. Start writing in a journal about what has changed and what might need more work.
There is no right or wrong way to do this. The important thing is to draw closer to God. The only way this will happen is if you make it a priority in your daily life. May you find great blessing along the journey.
Creator God, thank You for walking alongside me in these busy times, and in the moments I choose to pause and reflect. Tap me on the shoulder occasionally, so that I remember to call on You, Lord for the things that cause pain, and to instead rely on Your love and care to welcome me. Amen.
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