It was late last week when I was lying in bed and looking over our girls’ Christmas lists. One request for “squishies.” Two requests for Adidas Sneaks. Three requests for (and three different spellings of) money. I love when they ask for what they want. But I didn’t want to get any of it.
It all made me feel short of breath and stuffed by stuff. And it all made me feel like I was doing a bad job of, what did Plato preach?, teaching my peeps to desire the right things. But what could I do?
We had traditions, after all, there had to be Beanie Boos in the stockings, Legos under the tree, and sweaters in crisp, black boxes. Traditions are what kids who’ve experienced trauma live for. Traditions are what I am so terrible at. Just as soon as one starts I want to know WHY and DO WE HAVE TO and, everyone’s favorite, WHAT DOES THIS SAY ABOUT OUR THEOLOGY???
You are not powerless.
My heart’s voice came so quick I nearly clasped my hand over my chest as if to keep a secret from spilling. I knew she was right; I always think I know. But the connection between my knowing and breathing gets clogged by the daily coffee grinds. And then the breathing shallows. And the knowing strains. And I become an automaton in my own life until something as small as a child’s Christmas list reminds me I am not a machine.
I don’t have to buy the slime, if I don’t want to.
Friends, I know a new year is upon us and you may already be scheming your word of the year, a new writing rhythm, or whether it’s possible to try something like a Half30. (Asking for a friend.) But I want to give you permission to stop buying the slime now, like today, if it’s making you sick.
You don’t have to send holiday cards if it’s more sweat than sweet.
You don’t have to be on social media if it’s more output than input.
You don’t have to scale your work if it’s more should than want.
You don’t have to put it in on the calendar if it’s more dread than delight.
You don’t have to get the gift if it’s more stuff than substance.
One of the most badass verses of the Bible, IMO, is when Jesus says, “No one takes [my life] from me. I lay it down of my own free will. I have the right to lay it down; I also have the right to take it up again.” Get it, God. And bless you for modeling how to author a life in which Fierce Self-Love = Free Other-Love.
His words reminded me of something a very cool, very Jesus-sounding, mom said to me about (literal) slime. She doesn’t allow slime in her house. (You can do that?) She says no to anything and everything she wants. (Why didn’t I think of that?) And she always reserves the right to change her mind. (And your kids can recover from that?) I wanted to kiss her for telling me.
So, do whatever you need to do to give yourself freely this season. As for me and my house, there will no stuffies but some building blocks this year. No holiday photos cards but some kid-captured Polaroids sent to a random few. And no newsletter until the new year so I can catch my breath and savor my heart’s secrets.
Our hearts are never short on secrets.
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