The outside Christmas lights are down, and the house stands bereft of tinsel, tree lights, and cheerful decorations. For now, I’ve piled them in our TV room to deal with later. The house looks clean, yet sadly vacant. I haven’t had the time or energy to get it all put away, or get our usual pictures and pretties back out. Without the lights, it feels cold and dark. I’m fighting the pull toward the after holiday slump.

Many of us are feeling the same. From November through New Years, anticipation (or dread) is at an all time high; we pour all our energies into meal preparation, gift giving, programs, and get-togethers. Then suddenly, it’s all over. We teeter at the far edge of an emotional high overlooking a chasm of exhaustion and letdown.

I was hoping for a rest after the holidays, but life has sped merrily on without a chance to catch my breath. It’s been like going from ride to ride at the fair without pausing to see, taste, or enjoy where I am. It begins to feel empty. I need to take time to stop and regroup. Maybe you do too.

Here’s what God is saying to me.

1.      Be kind to yourself. I tend to expect too much. Many of us struggle with our inability to be perfect in everything we say and do, but it’s part of being human. It exposes our need for God’s wisdom, energy, and love. When I began to thrash myself for blowing it again, He encourages me not only to seek His and others’ forgiveness, but also my own. To treat myself the way I would a dear friend – with warmth, encouragement, and kindness.

2.      Turn on the lights. The short, dark winter days affect some people more than others. I love living on the coast where it is moderately warm throughout the winter, but day after day of rainy, gray skies can get me down. Especially after the glitz of Christmas. So I’m lighting up the house, burning candles, getting outside, wearing happy colors, and treating myself to an occasional tanning session to fill my heart with sunshine. It’s amazing how those little things can lift our spirits.

3.      Have some fun. There is so much to do – laundry, errands, connecting, groceries, work, ministry, caring for children, maintenance, and the list goes on. But God is reminding me that life is meant to be fun too. For me that means coffee with a friend, going for a walk, reading a good book, and creating something beautiful just for the fun of it!
hats for granddaughter Leaella

wood burning project for family gift exchange

top view

stocking for our newest grandchild

4.      Love the one you’re with. This phrase from Stephen Stills’ song from the 70’s keeps surfacing in my mind. God is reminding me not to run over two people to get to someone else I think I need to, want to, or should, talk to instead. I can relax, let Him flow through me, stop trying to control the world, and live joyfully in the moment with whoever He puts in front of me.

5.      Do the next right thing. If I begin to list everything I hope to do in this New Year, and ways I need to grow, I panic. It’s too much. What a relief it is to realize all we have to do is concentrate on doing the next right thing. One moment at a time, one day at a time.

It’s a New Year and it is going to be glorious! January may not give us the same rush as the holidays, and it may seem dark and dreary in comparison, but it’s the perfect time for establishing a solid grip on where we’re headed. We can let God fill us anew. It’s in our greatest times of need, when we look for Him, that He can show himself all sufficient in every situation.