“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you,” Matthew 6:33
We just returned home after a week-long Thanksgiving vacation, when my husband began to pull out the multitude of Christmas decoration boxes we have accumulated. If he is feeling inclined to climb up that ladder and put Christmas lights across the roof, who am I to hold him back? But, I wasn’t ready for those boxes to pile up in our hallway. I had laundry to do, lessons to plan, grocery shopping, and a few other details on my Saturday calendar. My heart started to race.
“I’m not going to get to the decorations until next Saturday,” I explained.
There, I said it. The guilt of leaving it undone for a week was gone. But, the anxiety remained. One more project to do.
Only I can take responsibility for the number of Christmas decorations I have to place through the house. I am the one who cross-stitched all the family stockings, sewed the stuffed santas which sit atop kitchen cupboards and collected all the Christmas plates, frames and nativities over the years. I collected them in order to create a festive home, a place of celebration for my kids to enjoy and remember. But this year, the decorations created stress.
Saturday arrived and I was ready to begin the great decoration overhaul. As I emptied boxes, dodged the kids dancing around the floor with their dog, and answered phone calls; the stress began to rise again. Visions of projects undone danced in my head. I glanced into the living room and saw the place I have created for rest.
My Bible lies on the end table, my notebook and devotional book wait for me. A warm throw and coaster for my hot tea invite me to come and sit. I carved this small place of solitude out months ago, a place in the center of my home which is hard to walk past, without hearing the Lord whisper to me:
“My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “LORD, I am coming.” (Psalm 27:8).
In the midst of the noisy laughter and prancing of dog feet, the mess of the boxes and turmoil of projects to come, I turned my back and curled up on a small corner of the couch. I breathed in long deep breaths, and exhaled slowly. (I am learning to slow my body down and give it rest from the physical consequences of stress.) Then I quietly talked with my Lord. I read His Words to me, let Him speak to my heart and discussed the day with Him.
Our lives are spinning with activity, meetings, and media attachments. If our bodies are not constantly on the go, then surely our minds are! It is a rarity to experience rest in this culture amidst the stress we have created.
To live with simplicity and slow ourselves down, includes bringing our minds back to the rest of our Shepherd. When we seek Him first (Matthew 6:33), His kingdom and His righteousness, we are allowing our minds and our whole-self to be lined up with the Shepherd of our souls. It takes practice to pull ourselves away and make it happen. There in our solitude, we find pleasure in slowing down and hearing from the Lord.
As I walked back to my Christmas project, my body felt at rest; my mind focused on the things that matter most to me, and my spirit renewed and filled with His Spirit.
I finished a good portion of the decorations, and put the rest of the boxes back in the closet for another year. I decided to cut down my own Christmas decorating expectations in order to be about the simple more pleasurable things in my life: like baking goodies, laughing with my kids, and enjoying the gift of timeless and eternal moments with my Lord.