Is it safe for me to tell you that I’m a little bit freaked out? That I’ve almost already had a few minor break-downs? Because it’s November. The first week is almost over, and since the weather has been so wonderful in Michigan I don’t have my usual handles on the season. Before I know it our calendar will be packed full of really great activities, family and church events, and let’s not forget Black Friday and Cyber Monday. (One must be prepared.)
All the clamor and commotion of the holiday season can leave me feeling a lot less than thankful. My nature is slow paced and thoughtful. I process in days not minutes. I plan this way, teach this way, and I am tempted to resent any one or thing that pushes me to speed up, hustle about, and be in more places at once. I don’t normally worry about being too busy because of the effort that was put into creating our schedule – until the holiday season, and all that seems to fly out the window. And this year I don’t want to fall prey to the pace of the culture.
The culture in our world today is fast, seeking instant gratification. If I’m not careful I won’t notice that the culture outside my home is playing a heavy, invisible role in my mind. It comes in through social media, homeschool program drop offs, texts from friends and family, and even on Sunday morning. There is always a message of what the “norm” is for every environment, activity, and community. And in most seasons I can live counter-culturally without much negative feedback.
While I want to do all the things and be in all the places, I’ve learned that the greatest test of this season is not pass/fail graded on whether I can or can’t do it all. But rather, it is a test of whether I can be in a state of calm no matter the amount of clamor, hustle, or other’s expectations hovering around me. Can I live with the dissonance of the culture of the world around me and the culture I want to cultivate in my heart and in my home? Can I remain calm when the inside and the outside are at odds?
And what about home schooling during this season? Am I supposed to steamroll on and check all the boxes, or let it all go and catch back up later? Where October felt full, November arrives and threatens to burst at the seams. Do I want to neglect the first things in order to affirm my extended family? Can I compromise with our schedule and get back on track before the slump of February?
I’m really wrestling with these questions this year. I want to be intentional about guarding our family’s culture. If I don’t, then I will put on the culture from the outside and start to push out my priorities for the sake of doing more, being more, and attending everything. But that doesn’t nurture calm, it creates a crazy feeling in my soul. Over the past few years I’ve found myself still recovering in January from all the crazy feelings that busyness created.
For me, the craziness inside doesn’t just come from holidays. Last night I spent an hour detailing to my husband all the ways I have been feeling stressed and overwhelmed. (This was a confession-session. If you aren’t able to do this with your spouse or someone close to you and you’re going through a stressful situation, then I highly recommend this book: When Life is Hard. I read this book in 2010 during an especially hard time in my life when I had no physical person to go through the trials with me.)
I shared all my burdens and came to the point of surrender that was necessary in order to know how to stand back up and move forward. Without examining what’s making me feel crazy, how will I know which burdens to continue to carry and which ones to forsake? Only clear predetermined priorities can help me answer this.
I want my family culture for this busy season to be calm. I want the nature of peace to pervade everything we do. I want there to be relief when we are together in the privacy of our home that we can take with us outside the home running to whatever various commitments we may choose.
Calm isn’t the same as easy. It will require diligence to carry our daily burdens and to continue in prayer when schedules are full and we feel too busy. And cancelling plans for fear of busyness isn’t true calm either. Remember: as your days, so shall your strength be.
I want my family culture to be so rich and meaningful that it impacts those around us. I don’t want the culture of the world in which we live to be so strong that it comes into our home and robs us of the opportunity to enjoy to the fullest this unique season of the year. Being fully present, fully calm, and fully thankful is a gift both to me and to others and this is the gift for which I am praying.
So maybe you’re feeling like me and you don’t know how you’re going to keep up with this busy season, or maybe you’re not like me and you love the hustle and bustle – either way, I’ve written a prayer to help protect what’s most important: living in unity with the Lord and enjoying a calm spirit because of His presence.
More encouraging thoughts on culture and calm:
- What is a family culture?
- Planning Your Big Picture
- Teaching From Rest – I’m reading this right now and joining the online book club with the author on Periscope @AmLovelyThings – and the message of this book is perfect for this busy season.
- #5Things I needed most – I think November is a great time to Make Over Your Mornings
- Read Emily’s book on how to avoid hustle.
- Intentional Summer – I wrote this in July referencing how I wanted our November and December to feel, and now that the months are here I can tell you that this works and it is worth it.
- And this post is for when you feel stuck or overwhelmed by not knowing how.
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