Presents vs. Presence

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Christmas is a season of togetherness, joy, and purposeful preparation for Advent. Strong smells of cinnamon and coffee fill the air. Disfigured gingerbread men and failed present wrapping bring heart-warming laughs. No other season of the year accepts this joyful attitude and slow pace of life.

Everyone is in different seasons, times of great accomplishment and prosperity or times in seemingly stagnant waters. My last semester was one where each day required one foot in front of the other. Yet by the grace of God, those steps were purposed and my energy preserved. Many times in the past six months, people asked: “how are you doing all this?” It was not my ability that sustained me, but God’s power within me. By His faithfulness, this semester finished being the highlight of my academic career. Don’t get me wrong here…this was the HARDEST 4 months I have experienced. There were definitely times where I just wanted to snuggle up in a giant blanket to hibernate for a few months and never come out (ok maybe an exaggeration). So when this break-neck speed ended and I arrived back at home, time seemed to stand still.

My first night at home I chose not to set an alarm, which culminated in a glorious 12-hour sleep. Perhaps my best version of hibernation. For the first time in a year, I had nothing that needed to be accomplished immediately. As a type A, recovering perfectionist, and morning trailblazer this can be a culture shock. Yet, I have begun to realize that this time is a GIFT. After 12 months of racing, my best present came in the gift of quiet and REST. Staying longer in God’s presence and listening is one of the best gifts, one that is often overlooked in this season of hustle and misguided intentions.

As we approach Christmas and all the hubbub and festivities, give in to purposeful rest. Recognize the true reason for this season of joy, but enjoy the days with friends and families. I know in a few short weeks my life will resume the busy-pace of which I have grown accustomed. Hard to believe that it will be my last semester of college…but I am ready for the next chapter. Yet in these moments I must realize that I am not any less for this restful season. A friend of mine recently allowed me to read Your Sacred Yes, a book that I highly recommend to anyone experiencing a busy season of life. Susan Larson writes,

“Refuse the temptation to feel insecure for doing less because we’ll come to appreciate that rest is as much a discipline as work is, and we’ll entrust our identity and fruitfulness to Jesus.”

Whether that means having a long conversation with a relative, or taking your younger cousins shopping, simply be present. Join in on the Christmas cookie launching competition (yes…that is a family tradition). Or simply be ok in reading a book by the fire. Rest is preparation for what is next. And yes, 2019 is just around the corner.

Merry Christmas all!
-EB-

 

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