It is all too easy at this time of year to get lost in the hustle and bustle of holiday craziness. If you're anything like me, you're trying to artfully manage shopping for the perfect gift for everyone on your list while making it to at least one party a week (if not thirty-seven). And then you have to factor in the normal things, such as at some point getting all of your clean laundry off of the spare bed and into the closets and sweeping the crumbs off of your floor in reasonable intervals like at least once a month.
You might be a little insane if you tried to put in new floors the week before Thanksgiving and the you-know-what-hitting-the-fan splendor of Christmastime chaos. Who would do that? Not anyone I know.
Okay, maybe we did that. My husband (with a some help from my little brother) worked his butt off to lay new floors during his time off the weekend before his parents came in town. The day after he finished, naturally he came down with some kind of stomach bug or food poisoning to boot. In my kindest, most appreciative and non-controlling voice, I reminded him how important baseboards were to me.
You might be thinking, "Baseboards? Seriously?" But hear me out. I grew up in a home that was constantly under construction and getting dressed amidst drywall dust wasn't really the dream scenario for this girl. So to me, the baseboards are important. They're just the last littlest part of a project that is so small you might not even notice it unless you're the person who likes projects to be finished. Baseboards mean the project is finished. The chapter is officially closed, on to the next thing.
After Adam got well again, we were thrown into the business of enjoying time with our family for Thanksgiving and then subsequently into Christmas decorating and now he's slammed with work since he works for an organization you might have heard of called the church whose main event of the year is sort of right around the corner. Is it obvious that the baseboards have kind of fallen to the bottom-most spot on the list, and reasonably so?
To be honest, today I felt a little twitch in my super-organized persona over it. I looked up at my seven out of twelve days of Christmas (not a creative liberty, but rather because we ran out of command tape in the middle of decorating) and saw just another piece of unfinished business, another loose end to tie up.
Then I was reminded of a quote I found in my favorite book last year. I read this quote every week to a group of people who faithfully served those around them and prayed its words over them fervently. I read it almost daily to myself. And to say that it changed my life might sound dramatic, but, looking back at the past year and the job and life changes that have happened, it might not actually be that hard to believe.
Maybe it's just what you need to hear today, too:
"One thing’s for sure: if you decide to be courageous and sane, if you decide not to overspend or overcommit or overschedule, the healthy people in your life will respect those choices. And the unhealthy people in your life will freak out, because you’re making a healthy choice they’re not currently free to make. Don’t for one second let that stop you. Either I can be here, fully here, my imperfect, messy, tired but wholly present self, or I can miss it— this moment, this conversation, this time around the table, whatever it is— because I’m trying, and failing, to be perfect, keep the house perfect, make the meal perfect, ensure the gift is perfect. But this season I’m not trying for perfect. I’m just trying to show up, every time, with honesty and attentiveness. The irony, of course, must not be lost on us: a season that is, at its heart, a love story — a story about faith and fragility, angels, a baby, a star— that sweet, simply beautiful story gets lost so easily in a jarring, toxic tangle of sugar and shopping bags and rushing and parking lots and expectations. In our lowest, most fragmented moments, we feel out of control— controlled, in fact, by expectations and to-do lists and commitments and traditions. It’s that time of year, we shrug, when things get a little crazy. No avoiding it. But that’s not true. And that’s shifting the blame. We have, each one of us, been entrusted with one life, made up of days and hours and minutes. We’re spending them according to our values, whether or not we admit it. When things are too crazy, the only voices I hear are the voices of fear and shame. I stop being able to hear the voice of God, the voice of rest, the voice of hope and healing and restoration, the voice that gives new life to dry old bones. And instead I hear that old song I’ve heard all my life: You’re not good enough. You’re not good enough. But that voice is a lie. And it’s a terrible guide. When I listen to it, I burn the candle at both ends and try to light the middle while I’m at it. The voice of God invites us to full, whole living— to rest, to abundance, to enough. To say no. To say no more. To say I’m going to choose to live wholly and completely in the present, even though this ragged, run-down person I am right now is so far from perfect. Let’s be courageous in these days. Let’s choose love and rest and grace. Let’s use our minutes and hours to create memories with the people we love instead of dragging them on one more errand or shushing them while we accomplish one more seemingly necessary thing. Let’s honor the story — the silent night, the angels, the miracle child, the simple birth, with each choice that we make. My prayer is that we’ll find ourselves drawn closer and closer to the heart of the story, the beautiful, beating heart of it all, that the chaos around us and within us will recede, and the most important things will be clear and lovely at every turn. I pray that we’ll understand the transforming power that lies in saying no, because it’s an act of faith, a tangible demonstration of the belief that you are so much more than what you do. I pray that we’ll live with intention, hope, and love in this wild season and in every season, and that the God who loves us will bring new life to our worn-out hearts this year and every year, that we’ll live, truly and deeply, in the present, instead of waiting, waiting, waiting for perfect." Shauna Niequist; Bread and Wine.
Today, I'm choosing to take a step back from the madness. To stop saying, "Good! Just busy as usual." in response to someone asking how I am. To find rest that matters to me: catching up on my favorite TV shows, enjoying a glass of wine, cooking for people I love. I'm going to raise my gaze just enough that I can't see the bottom five inches of my floors or maybe even grow up enough to see them and not care that every little thing isn't exactly as it "should" be.
There will always be unfinished business, it's just how we learn to deal with it.