Chaos: complete disorder and confusion. Not just a little bit hectic. Complete disorder, disarray. The last few months, I think that would be an accurate definition of my life. I am a schedule person. I thrive on knowing when to wake up, when I have to be at work, when I can rest. Disarray is my personal definition of horrible.
I am spending my day at home alone, true crime podcasts and the swishing of the washing machine tunes in the background. With the year coming to a close and having an entire day to myself, I am finally getting a chance to truly reflect on 2018.
2018 kind of felt like the longest year of my life. A couple traumatic events that brought to me literally to my knees reignited this chaotic mantra of sorts that blanketed a lot of my year. Maybe I will go into detail in another post about those times because I’d love to share with you how my husband and I overcame them. And while I can definitely say we triumphed 2018, I hate to admit that anxiety won a lot of my days.
Christmas brought my chaos to a head. I have the privilege of having two sets of parents. My parents divorced when I was young and remarried two incredible human beings. While their divorce was and is painful, I cannot imagine my life without my step parents. My husband faces a similar reality—two sets of parents. Are you catching my drift yet on how Christmas equals chaos for us? Four Christmases. Yep, four, like the movie. I’d say Brandon is more of a Vince Vaughn than I am a Reese Witherspoon though. [If you haven’t seen the movie and you want the full effect of my blog post, go watch it. It’s not too late for a Christmas movie.]
While four Christmases truly isn’t a bad thing at all, having four Christmases in two days is…difficult. The funny thing is, none of our parents are the ones making it difficult. I put it upon myself to appreciate the process of gift giving, sharing a meal, the typical Christmas traditions. But when you’re on a timeline and have to move from one house to the next, you simply cannot allot the appropriate amount of time to those things.
I look back on my Christmas morning and just cringe at myself, allowing schedule to rule. I focused more on making sure we wouldn’t be late to the next appointment than relishing in the moment. And that is something I just…hate. I am all about quality time, experiencing things as a family. And I let myself ruin that experience.
Chaos won. But that brings me to this reflection. I already started thinking of how next Christmas can be better, how I can end the holiday season on a high rather than feeling guilty for all the time I did or didn’t spend at various parents’ houses. And I’m vowing to take more time to create breathing room, forcing myself to get my mind into a good place before going into Christmas—or any chaotic season in life that I can get ahead of.
I was not ready for Christmas this year. I got a promotion in the middle of 2018 and essentially spent the last six months of life getting sucked into treading water at work, just trying to stay afloat and dedicate time to learning my new role. In turn, my nutrition lacked, my exercise routine stopped, my relationships took a backseat, and if I’m 100% honest—I was just getting by.
Ironically, I exchanged text messages with my stepmom, Rayonna, right around Christmastime. Rayonna asked me, “Have you ever prayed asking God to give you a word?” Honestly, I hadn’t. But that question hit me like a ton of bricks. While I had never “asked God for a word,” I could barely hold it in that I felt as though he had been giving me one: peace.
Chaos had been reigning in my life for too long. That conversation with Rayonna was a successor to an already brewing thought in my head—I needed to start focusing on peace and replace the frenzy that I had been allowing to permeate me to my soul.
A few days before Christmas, my church held their first round of Christmas services in which they kicked off the service with a stunning rendition of a song I had never heard. A beautiful young woman in a ball gown belted the song “Peace,” originally by Hillsong Young & Free. And I wept through the entire thing. (Yeah, the first five minutes of service.) Thank goodness the lights were off and my husband is used to me crying in church; I have the blessing and the curse of feeling things deeply.
This song sucker punched me. It was like God sent down this picturesque young lady to sing it to me personally.
There’s a peace far beyond all understanding
May it ever set my heart at ease
Dare anxiety come, I’ll remember that peace is a promise You keep
Peace is a promise You keep
You will stay true
Even in the chaos
Your word remains truth
Even when my mind wreaks havoc
I will be still
For I’ve known all along
My Jehovah Shalom
Remember that conversation with Rayonna? Well it continued for a couple days, us exchanging different thoughts and ideas back and forth. Without really knowing my obsession with the song I previously referenced, she sent me, “Shalom: …a Hebrew word meaning peace, harmony, wholeness, completeness…and can be used idiomatically to mean both hello and goodbye.” Wholeness, completeness–I never really examined what the opposite of anxiety or chaos would be; but I think peace and wholeness sounds about right.
I hope that if you felt the utter chaos that this world produces in us over the holidays, you look to 2019 with hope knowing that you don’t have to stay there. I know I refuse to stay there. We can be our own worst enemies a lot of the time, segregating ourselves into our own heads and problems. Learning to filter out the chaos in our lives is a start to experiencing the wholeness peace provides. Whatever that means for you in 2019, find it, run with it, desperately pursue it.