Generally I try to have my review written a few weeks after My Rest is completed. But this year, I’ve been savoring and mulling over how this year’s Rest is different from other Rests. And honestly, how this month of January has been different than the last ten months of COVID isolation.
Fair questions. And what has changed in me because of this year’s Rest?
Every Rest is different from the past ones. Every year has its own fingerprint, or identity because of circumstances that vary. Here are a few situations over the years, that have made My Rests quite different from each other: the weather being so bad that cancellations were the norm, the age of participants in my home, the extra people living in my home (twice now), the medical issues due to surgeries, the caregiving role due to my father’s chronic illness, and My January Rest List (some lists are harder than others!).
This year had its own specific circumstances. Come January 2021, because of COVID, we had already been isolating for close to a year. I already hadn’t been going out to restaurants, traveling, or shopping unless it was essential. I wasn’t running around like pre-COVID seeing people. Our overall spending was already down, because we were eating out less, and driving less: my husband worked from home, our daughter schooled remotely.
What this meant was that things within our home had already changed substantially. I was cooking more, but I was over-indulging myself more with movies, online games, and eating all that I was cooking. But I also was seeking outside adventures, reading, and studying things that I love.
Regarding overindulgence, since didn’t go to our family’s for Christmas, I didn’t feel that I overindulged to the same degree that I usually do. At home, we had a more simple meal—one meal—rather than one large meal after another, with home baked goodies abounding.
Come January, our world was already much smaller. And then…I got the dreaded COVID. Three of the four in our home did. We are all ok, thank you God!
So what changed in me this year? There are a few prominent themes that I came to realize plus some specific things that I’ve accomplished with this Year’s Rest. December 2019 I felt the Lord leading me to “make room” in my heart and I wrote A Painful Renovation.
Over Christmas (2019), there were times that God gently encouraged me to make room for some things that were challenging, or painful, or at first response, simply unwanted—like the Christ child. Yet each time I made room, my heart softened a bit. I felt the beauty of the Lord.
Little did any of us know what would be asked of us with all that transpired due to COVID and the heartbreaking situations leading to social and political unrest. I’ve had to examine a lot of what I take for granted, what I expect, what I think I know, and make room—lots of room—for new information and uncertainty. In all of this, I have felt the beauty of the Lord.
I’m keeping an open heart and mind. MJR helps me make room.
Another thought that surfaced because I’m late writing this post is that we have moved into Lenten season. While I am a person of faith, I wasn’t raised in a church, so I didn’t grow up with a real understanding of Lent. I’ve heard of others participating and admired people who did, but I didn’t. I understood the concept, but until last week when I read Brittanica’s definition of Lent, I missed that MJR is much like Lent! I was shocked! I read that “Lent is a season of preparation and fasting…a way to foster simplicity and self-control: many use their cravings or desires for those items as a reminder to pray and refocus on spiritual matters….”
Each year, I love to give the first of my year to focusing on the things that matter most: by decreasing lesser things I gain greater things. While MJR doesn’t state a faith-based focus, that focus has always been there for me.
MJR helped me focus on my Savior and not my every-day functional saviors (like comfort, sugar, entertainment, etc.).
Specific accomplishments: two major things changed with regard to food, one was snacking and the other was no sugar. As the month went on, I overcame the habit of snacking. I especially wanted to snack each night because of the crappy feeling I got after my daily injection for bone growth. I didn’t snack—at all—in between meals or otherwise. I did eat a handful of apples during the month, when supper was delayed for one reason or another, which was most often because teenagers eat later than I prefer.
After nearly a month off of sugar, I thought about sugar a lot, but not in the way you might think. I know myself. I am not ready to say no sugar for the remainder of my life. But I had some concern about resuming sugar consumption because I didn’t want to eat sugar unabashedly moment after moment. And… we finally got all the baked goodies from my mother-in-law, including several types of gluten free biscotti, of which I hadn’t tasted a crumb! February 1st, I had a gluten free biscotti and a cup of good coffee. After dinner I allowed myself two small chocolates, a gift I’d been waiting to savor! Temptation was all around: the chocolates on the table, my snack drawer had my Christmas chocolates stashed there, and there’s another gift, an entire package of gluten free Oreos waiting to be tried! I told myself, no sugar the next day, because I don’t want treats to become a daily habit.
After about three weeks, how am I doing with snacking and sugar? Not has well as I had hoped. I am not mindlessly snacking, but it is mind-blowing how quickly eating something, because I want to eat, can happen before my mind catches up to my impulse! While I don’t have sugar daily, I am aware that I have a freezer full of treats to try and chocolate in my snack drawer. And, I’ve been using my Christmas coffee card for lattes instead of black coffees. If I had to grade myself, I think I am still doing 75% better than before My Rest: I am protective of my progress, and mindful of my slippage.
What else changed? I haven’t played a single game. I don’t want to spend time that way: I’d rather have that time to think, read, dream, and write. Surprisingly, I found during MJR I’d been busy enough that I had a hard time fitting in two movies a week! To date, we have only watched one movie a weekend and one during the week. I’ll try to stick with that, unless there is a good reason. Again, I’d rather spend the time reading or creating, or even napping! Once we did watch two in one night: we got an early start.
We spent far less money on groceries and I’m always amazed at how long things last, especially when you are waiting for them to run out! Like the old, yucky coffee I made myself use up. It lasted till the bitter end—the last day of January! We ran out of hot chocolate, eggs, contact cleaner, cereal, bagels, flour tortillas, taco chips, coconut milk, stewed tomatoes, and mint tea. We almost ran out of shampoo: I would have if my daughter hadn’t donated hers. I also almost ran out of face cleanser. It lasted a lot longer than I thought. The same with my face lotion. I’m still using the back of my makeup brush to dig it out after two months. And, I am not kidding! I’ve been tempted to pitch it, but with MJR, I couldn’t. Then I became just plain curious about how long this could go on! Maybe until next January? I’ve even taken to slathering my neck with it and God knows it needs it too!
Things last longer than you think. If you don’t want to run out, you use a little less. If you want it to run out, you use a little more, on purpose. Or maybe that is just me?
I had a big ah-ha regarding shopping! As I said in The List, I avoided sales flyers, magazines, and emails about shopping. BUT, since I didn’t rest from FaceBook or social media, I was shocked how often ads popped up before my eyes. And once, before I even thought about it, I was looking! I was curious—I wasn’t shopping…yet. But, that is how it happens! And, they know it.
The infraction was day four, while in my sick-bed, this lovely-little-painting-tool-box Christmas ornament popped up and I was enamored with it! Busted. My little eyes and heart started wanting, and that was shopping, whether I pulled out the credit card or not. After that, I didn’t look at the ads. Sometimes you cannot help seeing the temptation, but it is the second look that gets you in trouble. One of the reasons I don’t go to stores, if I don’t see it, I don’t want it. I shop the most—for me—around Christmastime: I shop for others and I see things for me!
I did depart from my no shopping protocol when I purchased a handful gifts for others. It was a deliberate choice to be kind in the middle of a world overflowing with vitriol: I choose kindness as a way of showing appreciation for some special people who have loved and served me in this trying season.
The Rest can be a love-hate relationship. When I realize how much I have, how much I want, and how much I waste, I get annoyed. The Rest intentionally picks a battle with your flesh (the things you crave and chase after). After the initial emotion of annoyance, I quickly become grateful. Gratitude is a wonderful benefit that comes out of The Rest. The Rest changes me, it does.
I’m grateful for MJR giving me the time to refocus. MJR makes room in my life for things that matter most. I’m grateful for the realization that MJR has a lenten-type focus. God loves firsts. He says to dedicate first borns, give the first of the crops, and rest the first day of the week. So I give him the first of my year. That is how I have thought about MJR.
In the middle of so much grief and pain, how can I say that this year’s Rest was the best? I survived COVID and it was a sweet time of extra rest, where my loving husband waited on me hand and foot. I rested, walked and explored daily (after my fever broke), and read and wrote. My heart became full. God showed me myself in a simple and loving way. And, with extra room in my heart, I’m learning to love others better too.
Did you have a Rest of your own? How did it change you? Are you still experiencing those changes? Please consider joining me next year for My/Your January Rest.