Written for anyone who gets frazzled this time of year (including myself):
I know, the LAST thing you think you need is yet another item on that wretched list! But that’s why This One Thing is so important…
Got your list handy? Add this now:
Yes, that’s the thing to add. And it might be good to add it more than once, in between the frantic, rushing tasks and errands and event preparations. Maybe several times.
You say you can’t stop? We’re just talking one to three minutes, if you
can’t won’t allow yourself ten or fifteen. You stop to go to the bathroom, don’t you? Well, go to the bathroom, if you can’t find an undisturbed spot elsewhere. Lock the door behind you. Turn on the fan for some white noise—and just sit down on the floor, or (maybe even better) kneel, and… stop.
That is all.
Don’t have an agenda. Don’t do anything. Try even to screech your thinker to a halt, although that may be impossible. I know how those mental gears can keep accelerating.
Maybe think of one quiet thing, and as all the screaming demands keep jumping up to badger you, keep coming back to that one quiet thing. A flower, the memory of a still lake or a bubbling stream or a gentle breeze through leaves last summer. Or a quiet song… Or prayer. Especially a brief, quiet prayer is good.
The timing can be important. How can you know good timing? Your stress-ometer will tell you, your feelings and attitude will tell you, and if you put it off too long, your outward behavior will tell you that you should have done this ten minutes ago.
Know why we snap at our spouses or co-workers, lash out at our kids, start muttering rants to no one in particular this time of year? Mostly because we’re getting pushed past our physical or mental or emotional or spiritual limits. And much of the time the person who’s pushing us is… ourselves!
You don’t have to ask me how I know what it’s like to get wound up, overwhelmed, behind schedule, frumpy-grumpy, ready to scream, sweating even in the cold, before realizing an inner emergency is happening.
But somewhere along the way it started to dawn on me: Anytime I found myself just starting to get more easily irritated, grumpy, it was a red flag, warning: Overload! Overload! Stop! Stop! Just sit down and breathe.
You won’t waste time, you’ll save it.
And not only save it, but you can use it for probably the most important thing you’ll do all day: Connect with the One this “Season” is supposed to be all about! Pray, brief and simple. (Like, “God, help me!” …Seriously.)
Start now, this day, this hour, to pay attention to your inner stress-ometer. Practice this and you’ll keep getting more aware of the pre-grumpies, and more able to head off the rant at the pass.
And may His love, joy, and peace, be yours this Christmas season! Even today.