Excerpt from Take Time For Him: Some More
by Angela M Jendro
Order your paperback or e-book from Amazon!
2nd Sunday of Advent
It’s a good time of year for making room – in our closets, our homes, our schedules, and our lives for all the gifts, parties, and people that accompany Christmas. We live in a challenging culture for this. Its obsession with stuff has gotten out of control, necessitating storage units just to hold the overflow. Rampant competitiveness in seemingly every area of life adds pressure to our schedule, forcing our waking hours to overflow into the late night and early mornings just to keep up. You may be able to stay afloat in this atmosphere for a while, but the pressure and the pace are unsustainable without sacrificing more important things. In an effort to combat this, I regularly sort through our things and reassess our schedule of activities to ensure we can prioritize what matters.
Advent provides an opportunity for us to do the same thing in our spiritual lives. In anticipation of the greatest gift – Jesus Christ, the Son of God – we must make room in our souls, our schedules, and our lives. Its a time to step back and make an honest examination of what occupies our hearts. Much like when I hold up an old sweater and debate whether I will really wear it again or not, I must examine the things I spend time and energy on and ask if they are still worth it, or just taking up valuable space.
If it’s so difficult to let go of an old ratty sweater overrun with pills, how much more difficult to let go of old bad habits or frames of mind? We hold on to useless or worn out things simply because we hate change and we love nostalgia. We may rationalize that we will “use that someday” but we don’t even know all the “thats” we have anymore. In truth, we simply don’t want to let go of something that’s been with us for so long.
Similarly, we resist honestly evaluating our priorities, bad habits and sins. In some ways they can begin to feel like a part of our identity. However, the process of decluttering our soul can be marvelously freeing and enable us to move forward in our lives. The questions we must ask will vary as much as the clutter in our homes. You may have to consider, “Am I a hard worker, or have I become a workaholic?” Or the opposite: “Do I have a healthy amount of down time in my life, or have I just become lazy?” About attitudes one might ask “Am I someone who doesn’t get riled up about much, or am I just complacent?” or the opposite: “Am I someone who cares passionately about things, or do I make an idol out of causes or get too involved in other people’s business?”
Outside perspective can help. If you share a closet, garage, or home with someone, they will quickly tell you which items have been hogging space for no reason. Loving family and friends can also offer valuable insight about your life. They can more easily identify the ways you have grown as a person and the things that hold you back. The Holy Spirit can also guide you if you ask. He can enlighten your mind to see things from God’s perspective and soothe you with grace to let the lesser goods go.
After decluttering, the final preparations for Christmas celebrations involve cleaning. Mineral build up on the faucet, sticky fingerprints and globs of ketchup on the refrigerator, half-finished projects that have become an eyesore or safety hazard, and dusty surfaces dull the beauty of our homes. It takes time and sweat, but the shiny glean in every room renews our appreciation of God’s gifts and the warmth of home. In the same way, our virtues and gifts can dull from the challenges of everyday life. Stepping back for a little introspection can help us reclaim those pieces of ourselves we love and let them shine again.
During our Advent soul-work, we may find some things need to go, some things may be reasonable to keep, and some things may need a deep clean. Yet, at the end of the process our souls will glimmer with the beauty God has given us, and Christ will have more room to fill with the gift of His divine presence and peace.
- Prayerfully list your priorities. Where do God, work, family, friends, hobbies, and self-care rank?
- Consider your schedule: How well do you balance time for God, time for taking care of yourself, time for helping others, and time to accomplish your work well?
- Consider your possessions: How well do your things represent your priorities? Are there ways your possessions could better reflect what matters to you?
- Consider your heart: What occupies your desires most? Be honest. Then relate them back to your priority list. Prayerfully ask the Holy Spirit to increase your desire for the Lord and for loving relationship with others, and to decrease your desire for what competes with them.
- Consider your mind: What occupies your thoughts? What do you spend time learning about? How well are you making time for introspection and spiritual growth? Do you take the time to think of others or to identify your own needs? What tends to distract you or consume your mind? How might you detach somewhat?
- Make room for Christ in your home, your schedule, and your heart. Declutter your biggest horde, simplify your time commitments, and increase your prayer and spiritual reading by 10 minutes.
- Do an examination of conscience and encounter Christ in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
© 2020 Angela M Jendro
* To receive these weekly posts automatically in your email just click the “follow” tab in the bottom right hand corner and enter your email address. You can also follow me @taketimeforhim on Twitter and Facebook.