I must confess. For me the New Year didn’t actually begin on January the first. It didn’t start on the first Monday in January, or the first work day of the new year as I’d intended either. For me it dawned on the 7th – an otherwise nondescript Thursday.
Most notably that day did not go as I planned – something that would normally feel to me like the earth tilted on its axis. Instead I welcomed the change.
I’d been laboring over a book manuscript during my first year of blogging. Learning more about the mechanics and enjoying the experience, I wanted more – more followers, more comments, more feedback… I down-shifted. Ambition took over and before I realized it, I had become obsessed. I didn’t feel like the world was falling apart, so I felt better.
I’d been staring into the monitor till my eyes dried and my head hurt six days a week, letting my fitness and health care slide for days in a row. I’d been constantly thinking, reading, studying, cyber surfing until I realized I hadn’t even walked outside the house in too close to a week – yet again.
What’s Next followers might remember The View From Ground Level. And you’d rightly assume I’d learned from that experience. Or not. My breakthrough moment came the day before Christmas Eve. I realized I had performed the rudimentary holiday preparations my phone apps hounded me to do, but not much else to welcome in the season. This is very not like me. Instead I worked, telling myself I was about to reach my dream.
Right about that time I noticed an old feeling lurking around just outside the shadows. It had grown bold, stepping closer into the light. I wasn’t enjoying my life or my chosen career. Instead I had been working it, telling myself I must work harder so I could get where I need to be, and then I could relax and enjoy my life.
Blind ambition had taken over. I banished that little monster after surviving a heart attack in my mid-thirties. A little ambition, in check is typically good. This time around I was plain stupid. Literally, doing the same thing again and again expecting different results. This past year I’d be hard-pressed to prove this is not my typical MO.
During my year-end break I realized my main concerns were work and want. Although I celebrated Christmas Day with my household, thankful that hard times hadn’t robbed us of that joy, I was pensive, intense and remarkably not joyful.
My Ghost of Christmas Future appeared to me in the form of the “God-hat” I had tossed away long ago when I gave my life to Jesus. I realized I’d walled myself in and despite all my positive self-talk, laborious prayer rituals, and my enlightened perspective, I had become stale, dismal and worn.
At that point I put on the brakes. The next day as tornadoes swept past our neighborhood, I pulled some post ideas from my drafts folder, added a little bling, ran the proofreader, named the files with post dates and saved them as drafts to publish from my phone. And then I walked away from my desk for the year.
Fast forward to the first work day in January. Within minutes I noticed my neck and shoulders immediately tighten with that familiar, old pressure to perform, produce, provide. Instead of rowing in my chair to loosen up, I walked away holding my hands skyward. I made a cup of chamomile, and then sat in my prayer closet. I hung out with God till we were good again.
Rather than diving into my projects, the Reader or my manuscript, I started up the old laptop I use for business records.
I created a workbook; month to month spreadsheets detailing my financial plan for the year. I scheduled out the birthdays I’d observe, travel allowances and holiday budgets. Then I compiled my tax paperwork. I allocated every available dollar, checked the super-coupon site, purged my coupon folders, and drafted a back up plan to cover any ‘what-ifs.’
Relieved but not entirely satisfied, I overhauled my digital files and reformatted my back up drive. When that was done I wrote a long letter to my brother and his fiancee. I gave myself permission to not work. I lived.
What’s unique about that first day of this new year is I felt fine taking my life at a my pace again. I liked the unfamiliar, but comfortable peace, knowing what I have to work with and what must wait for residual income – essentially anything but food and shelter. But as billions around the globe can attest, my circumstances could be far worse.
Instead of my daily dread, that nagging drive to produce a monumental, world-changing post and manuscript, tabled and annotated, by my self-imposed deadline, I coasted. Rather than cracking the whip, screaming for the muse, I snapped my fingers to Pandora Radio and cruised through the day. It felt great!
The next morning I slid into my work-out garb, slammed down some nutrients, stretched and walked out the door. After a luxurious shower and prayer time I ate a legitimate breakfast, made a pot of tea and calmly walked to my clean, orderly desk. Yes, I pinched myself to be sure I was awake.
Instead of my work day starting at five, it was nearly nine a.m. and I wasn’t falling apart. I felt like the over comer I’d been most of my life. Blind ambition put to rest, I’m enjoying life with God in control again. As I watched the birds and the squirrels quarreling over territories, I listen for orders from my High Commander. Knowing they’ll come in the perfect time, I can relax and work on my manuscript – at my pace – in God’s time.
Just Be Held, Casting Crowns
YouTube Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tIZitK6_IMQ
“So don’t worry about these things… your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” Matthew 6:31-34 (NLT)