I am cautiously optimistic.
I say “cautiously” because if there’s anything these past two years have taught us so far, “expect the unexpected” is at the top of the list.
Is the latest, milder Greek letter a trend in the right direction to end this thing once and for all? Some experts seem to think so. We shall see. One can hope and pray.
Regardless, I wanted to share some of the things I want to pursue this year. These are not resolutions; rather, a purposeful intention to eliminate the unimportant and unhelpful and simplify the structure of my days.
This can be achieved in a few different ways.
I will continue to let go of material items we no longer use (or let’s be honest, have never used). Things in good condition can go to people who would actually benefit from them, and broken things we haven’t bothered to fix and have lived without quite successfully can probably just go in the trash can. I also am going to be very careful about what I add to our home. Today’s impulse buy can easily turn into buyer’s remorse, with one more thing I feel guilty about purchasing taking up valuable space and making the house feel cluttered. The Minimal Mom has been so helpful in my journey to manage less stuff. Check out her videos for ways to get started!
I also think it would be hugely beneficial to declutter mental space starting now! How many times do I open my Bible app only to realize two minutes later I’ve jumped to Facebook or started googling recipes for Chicken Marsala? It’s not only social media, although that’s an enormous problem for me personally. There are many avenues of escapism: television, video games, even some books. Some may be uplifting and educational, but many suck us in and glue us to the couch for hours until we emerge, zombie-like, no better off and without having had any meaningful interaction with other human beings. So what can we do to regain some real life skills in this digital age?
It’s going to hurt. The dopamine hits we get from social media are addictive. I think removing apps from our phones but keeping them on another device we don’t use as often can be helpful. This makes it harder to get to. When I’ve done this in the past it’s been easy to see how little I miss it and how much I accomplish in all the time I suddenly have at my disposal! I think we can also schedule activities built around real-life things that bring us joy, such as a walk with your spouse, inviting a friend over for coffee, reading an encouraging book with your favorite candle burning nearby, learning a new skill (like sewing lavender warmies!) making dinner as a family with the help of little ones, planting a garden together…the possibilities are endless!
The ramifications of accepting screen time as a way of life are also endless. Not only are we in danger of losing the art of relationship and real world skills, our kids will never learn how to live independent of constant information and entertainment. They will never learn emotional intelligence or social skills. We have to intervene.
The same principles above apply to who we spend time with. It’s okay to minimize the access you give to toxic people. Ministry is different, but close relationships must be a safe place! I’m talking about the people you let speak into your life; the ones whom you spend time with on a regular basis. If they cause you to feel small or drained or taken advantage of they are probably not your people. Reserve this space for the ones who truly care about you, and vice versa. As a Christian, it’s easy to get sucked into thinking you have to be available to everyone, all the time. Again, ministry is a different animal, and within the body of Christ we are called to love even those who are tap dancing on our nerves. But if we are constantly being dragged down, how is that beneficial to either party? Choose your inner circle wisely.
Let go of things that pull you away from your true purpose in life: to know and obey God; to love people well; to be grounded in truth; to fight evil; and to delight in the good gifts the Lord has given.
And teach your kids to do the same.
Here’s to 2022! May it be blessed as we go forward, intentionally, in pursuit of what truly matters.