My mind has a tendency to wander. I float between writing notes on my phone, post-it notes, my Blessed is She planner, and the notepad on the kitchen counter. I end up being all over the place in hopes of staying organized, jotting down ideas for something I want to write about, and then attempting to piece it all together later.
When I don’t reign in the mental scroll of what’s next on my personally-inflicted corporate task list, I lose track of my intentions. I begin the day with intention and then focus begins to taper off. By mid-afternoon, I’m a crabby, grumpy, and tired mama (especially before dinner time).
I’m not a busy person as much as I like to occupy myself. It probably stems from some misguided need to be productive. The problem with my busy-bee approach is that it offers little time to quiet myself and be still. It keeps me from getting to the bottom of the roots of old habits mixed in with poor habits which continues the cycle and has led me straight to burnout.
Excuses become acceptable and, before I know it, I am giving into a bad habit and lack the discipline to reign it in.
Over the summer, Jesus spoke to me through a wise and holy priest who said, “Take your time.” I can’t tell you how much I needed those words. They are such simple words, and yet they completely calmed my inner restlessness. It's almost like I was a candle, flickering continuously underneath a draft until I was repositioned and the wick became calm and still. As I have slowly unpacked what it means for me to take my time, it has opened my eyes to the self-inflicted expectations and demands I place on myself.
It has been so liberating for me to come back to these words throughout the day.
When the toddler explodes into a complete and utter melt down... Take your time.
When my kids begin to argue over who can play air guitar (because one of them has had guitar lessons and the other hasn’t )... Take your time.
When I send an e-mail with directions and other pertinent information and someone responds asking for the directions... Take your time.
This concept isn’t exclusive to what I am actually doing as much as it is the practice of taking my time to respond to these daily occurrences. My response to all of these situations is typically met with feelings of agitating, aggravation, annoyance, and frustration.
When I take my time to process my response to a situation, I can’t blame anyone for frustrating me, annoying me, or agitating me because no one has the power to do that. It's like when I remind my son that his sister (who doesn’t want to hear the intricate details about LEGO descriptions) doesn’t have the power to make him angry because he is choosing to respond in that manner.
The battle to remain in peace is at every moment of the day. Blaming someone or something else is normally seeped in excuses.
Taking Deep Breaths
I take a deep breath and take my time in doing so. I feel better when I say those words in my mind. I feel at ease. Suddenly, the hesitation to take my time because of this-or-that excuse envelops me with peace. I give myself permission to take my time and suddenly I’m not as tense, stressed, hurried, or feeling the need to apologize for being human.
Why do I fall into quicksand for the sake of speed and efficiency when it ends up costing me more in the long run?
What’s the rush to not take my time? What do I think I will really gain by living encumbered to do things a certain way?
Undoing the Worldliness
I haven’t had a “real job” in years, yet my urgency to get things done and respond as if the earnings of stockholders depend on me is something I am learning to undo.
I can’t force the confessional line to go any faster, I can’t will traffic to ease up, I can’t make my children eat faster when we have somewhere to be, and I can’t make myself work as if there are four other versions of me.
The reality is that my life with Christ is always going to be counter-cultural. I am constantly going to be battling against the noise, distraction, worldly temptations, vanity, and materialism that the world proposes will fulfill me. The truth is that only Peace Himself can allow me to experience happiness.
The Prince of Peace
I am tired of allowing excuses to consume me and get in the way of interior freedom.
Jesus came into this world with nothing and yet He is everything. This babe of Bethlehem stripped of any and all worldly attachments gave us the greatest gift of Himself.
Jesus came and countered everything the world says we need.
This Godman entered into this world fallen to sin, and the gift He offers us as a feeble and vulnerable newborn is His lasting peace. It doesn’t make sense, but His love has no bounds.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. // John 14:27
Peace. It is peace we are impoverished from. It is peace we seek as we walk in this valley of tears disillusioned and weary.
Practical Ways to Enter into Peace This Advent Season
The Church in her wisdom invites us into these moments of time and space with Christ. These liturgical seasons can change our prayer lives if we allow them. Shedding layers of what we have consumed from the world and trading it in return for peace Himself. The calm we yearn for can only come from Him.
Non-Negotiable Prayer Time
Prayer in the morning is non-negotiable for me as praying in the morning lifts my heart and praise to the Lord. Whatever transpires during the day leads me back to the Scripture verse I prayed with or a particularly Saint whose words I am meditating on for the week.
While I love a good Christmas jingle, I love worship music that grounds me and invites me into the quiet anticipation of Jesus’ birth. It draws me away from consumerism and sugar cookies and fuels my need for God’s peace.
This Advent season I am going to allow my prayer space to reflect the peace I am longing for.
A Blessed is She candle, a statue of the Holy Family, a journal, and this Advent devotional will adorn my little corner of the house. This will be my sanctuary from the pressure of making our house into a winter wonderland.
I am going to welcome the bare spaces in our home that aren’t decorated and allow Jesus to fill them.
Confession is mandatory for me during Advent. I go to Confession regularly, but there is something special about cleaning your heart to welcome the Baby Jesus.
Eucharistic Adoration and increasing my daily Mass attendance will be part of my Advent practices as well. I can easily get lost looking for the perfect holiday cookies to bake, Christmas wrapping paper, and thoughtful gifts for family and friends. I can fall prey in making Christmas less about Jesus and more about worldly delight.
Peace is here to stay.
Peace is a Person and not a thing.
Peace has a Name.
His name is Jesus.
Sister, what takes your peace away (whether it’s a holiday season or not)? Can we hold onto prayer like we do our shopping bags? Can we take the time to give Jesus our time like we do when we spend hours on Amazon?