The holidays are barreling towards us.
Shopping. Decorating. Concerts. Christmas pageants. Get those holiday parties on the calendar. Prepare the the house for guests, not to mention kids and a husband who will be home for ten days. The food. Ack, the food.
All of the regular stuff must happen, too. Appointments and car tune-ups and bills and service calls and we should really get another electricity provider - we are paying way too much. Somehow the cleaning and the toilet paper shopping and the laundry must get done, too. Is it any wonder that we are crazed over the holidays?
Okay. I am crazed over the holidays.
Every year, as the wave of Thanksgiving and Christmas and the New Year looms, I look for a place to hide. I want to protect myself from the tide and enjoy this time – shouldn’t we all enjoy this beautiful time? – so I retreat. I find myself nose-deep in writing, reading, social media, TV. I ignore certain things that should be addressed, like kids needing help with homework and a husband who’s talking about work. They deserve my attention, not this article on Buzzfeed that consists of thirty pictures of dogs sitting on cats.
But I can’t help myself. The distractions are too many, the pile of work exhausting, and I am weak.
It’s not an effective way to address feelings of being overwhelmed, to give into the paralysis that allthethings tends to elicit. It’s also not an effective way to get allthethings accomplished. Yet I still give in to distractions.
I wonder why these things exist. If the holidays weren’t here, I’d still find something to be overwhelmed about, would still find the distractions that take my mind off of important things. Ten years ago I wasn’t spending much time on writing or social media. But I was preoccupied with other things. Are distractions here to test our character, teach us what’s important, remind us to trust in God? Are they here to throw another wrench in the system, to showcase our most ruinous sin, the one we refuse to address directly?
The obvious solution would be to get rid of the distraction. Unplug. Draw up a firm structure of when to work and when to decompress. Stick to that structure. When others are around, give them your full attention. Make no exceptions.
But life isn’t like that. I cannot draw up a schedule of when to work and when to play because life is fluid, not confined by the time I have. Activities and events are often cut off in the middle; conversations started are stopped without conclusions; tasks and projects begin and are not finished. A rigid schedule may get me through this time, but it is only a bandage, stemming the flow right now only.
Distractions will present themselves until I give them the strongest medicine available: the word of God, the power of the Holy Spirit, the example of Jesus. When my focus is on anything else, I will be distracted and overwhelmed. When I give these feelings and things over to be dealt with by God, they won’t bog me down any longer, and I will be free to manage the holidays, nurture my most important relationships, and enjoy this life that I have been so freely and wonderfully given.
Now is as good a time to start as any.
Dear God, my distractions are many. Please help me put them in their place. Thank you, Amen.