My neighbor stood on his ladder and unclipped Christmas lights from his gutter, while I, in my living room, snugged baby Jesus and His parents in a box to sleep until next year. Slowly colors disappeared, one light, one Christmas ball at a time, and we’re left with what feels like the longest month of the year— January.
After lights, rich foods, and Christmas carols over loud speakers, after the hustle of traffic, checkout lines, and the bombardment of advertisers, January feels static and devoid of color and sound. January can, however, restore me because it is boring and stark. Without sunny weather drawing me outdoors or the hubbub of celebration, January invites me to think, to be still and distill the important from the trivial.
I settle on a cushy couch with Bible, pen and notebook, then close my eyes to concentrate on connecting with God. Dadblastit! To-dos popcorn in my head and holler for attention. Knowing they will not go away, I reach for the notebook and jot each item next to its own dot. There. Now I will remember and am free to ignore nagging chores while they cry themselves to sleep.
Quiet again, I seek God, but feel as gray and empty as the day. My weakness disgusts me. I confess it to God and ask for His help to exit my pity party. Beautiful things, funny and sweet things I conjure: a mockingbird atop a post singing his playlist with gusto, light sparkling on gulf waters, sipping from a hot mug. Thank You, God, for these little things. Recalling faces of people I love, Thank You, God, for these dear ones. Gratitude swells for God’s gifts. Thank You, God, for being with me, for allowing me to know You through Jesus. Thank You for the Bible and Your Spirit. Thank You for being a good God, a pure and righteous God, whom I can trust. Giving thanks brings more blessings to mind, and I discover I am richer, and the world is brighter than I thought.
Cutting the ball-and-chain of productivity helps me sit and simply be, but it’s tough to do. Jesus’ living and dying in my place establish me, not my doing, doing, doing. I constantly need reminding of that truth. When everything finally fades, while I also fade, God’s kingdom sharpens as my greatest desire. In this settled position, I find my place on the map that says, “You are Here.” After coming to terms with that, God and I discuss where to go from Here.
My priorities and activities reset so that I live a measured, sustainable life. Anxiety subsides; stumbling heartbeats and restlessness calm. Dark hours leave time to read and watch neighbors walk with their leashed dogs, and to smell woodsmoke and clean, brisk air. I give thanks for the stilling of night and her black and white distances in space, knowing God gives the stars for seasons and marking time.
Thank You, God, for January and resetting me. You gift every season for a purpose and for my good, even January.
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. James 1:17
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1
And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, Genesis 1:14