Replenish me with your living water, O God.
I love the ambiance of the Christmas tree and the quiet glow of the decorations that surround the house during December, but honestly, I also love the way the house feels after I take it all down. Uncluttered. Returned to it's normal state. More spacious. Our tree was so dried out from the weeks it tried to survive until Christmas that I practically needed body armor to remove the decorations from it's prickly branches. To me, taking the tree down is symbolic of the New Year: A fresh start, new beginnings, a clean slate.
Although the holidays were filled with amazing memories, lots of extra calories, and trips to see loved ones we don't have the opportunity to visit often enough, they also left me feeling a little drained. When asked by a friend what my husband got me for Christmas, I realized how well he knows me. A 90 minute massage. When I first saw the gift card in my stocking I wondered, "Will I even be able to move after that long?" But maybe not being able to move wouldn't be such a bad thing. I am cashing it in. And soon.
I wrapped up the end of 2013 by completing a Proverbs 31 Ministries online Bible study of A Confident Heart by Renee Swope. During the one of the last chapters of the book, she has her readers complete a personality test, with the goal being to learn more about the person God created you to be and embrace the personality traits He's given you. I'd taken the same test when I was in high school, and I learned that while I have grown spiritually, become more confident, and less introverted, my personality is the same. I am a Phleg-Mel. You can read more about this personality here. In a nutshell, my personality type strives for peace and perfection, which are often at odds with each other.
With these character traits, the holidays can often be a stressful time. I want to make it to every holiday party so as not to disappoint everyone. I want to find the perfect gifts but stay within our budget. And at the end of it all, I just want to lie down and hibernate for the rest of winter.
One of the important truths I learned from that last Bible study of the year is that "not all good things are God's things." (Renee Swope) While meeting the expectations of everyone who enters my life may feel necessary and important, not only is it impossible, but it's likely not in line with what God wants for my life. My goal? To walk in the Spirit. To respond to His still small voice and pursue the calling God has for my life. Often, that means saying "no" to people I care about so I can focus and doing what God's wants me to do, and doing it well.
Often, I feel as though I'm being pulled in a hundred different directions, and that still voice fades into the distance, drowned out by the noise of the demands of little mouths, the running of the dryer, and the endless annoying dinging of my phone. These responsibilities are important, but my goal, what I strive for, is to always put God first. As I was reminded by a recent devotion, it's ok to tell me five year old that I need a few minutes to read God's word. And how awesome is that for my child to see me making time for Him?
God, as I immerse myself in your Word, I know that I will hear your voice more clearly. You have stated that if I seek your Kingdom first, all these things will be added to me. Things I worry about but should place at the foot of the cross. I pray 2014 will bring me even closer to you. Amen.
"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:34