The Week Between: Pausing to Be Still Between Christmas and New Year’s

We received our first snow of the season three days ago, just in time for Christmas Eve. After weeks of “will it,” “won’t it,” the weather finally seems to have turned the corner from fall to winter, ushering in bitter cold winds and mellow cloudy skies. Last night, as I was walking from my car into a friend’s house, I was struck by the silence.

My feet crunched in the snow, but that was it.

No traffic.

No neighbors enjoying a late dinner party.

Just me and the golden streetlights and the snow.

I forget this—how the snow has a way of muting everything. On any given night during the summer, you can step outside and hear the lyrics of the night—the locusts croaking from the trees, the grind of rubber tires on pavement, the belly-deep laughter of kids playing in the street. But when snow falls, it seems to hush the entire world with its stillness and beauty.

I think a comparison can be made between the snow and this week between Christmas and New Year’s. We’ve celebrated the joyous, holy event of Jesus’ birth, welcomed God-with-us into our midst. And in these six days between the anniversary of our Savior’s first arrival and the turning of the year, we wait . . . reminiscing about the past and looking ahead to something new.

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards,” said philosopher Søren Kierkegard.

I’ve always found this to be a useful practice in my own life. When I have a decision to make about the future, often it’s looking at the past that gives me the greatest clarity. I can mark out milestone moments in my life, remember how God taught me this or that, and use that as a guideline for where He might be taking me in the future.

I don’t take that time to sit and breathe in the stillness often enough, and I think God has been calling me back to it. Calling me to sit in His presence and reflect on where He has brought me. Lately, every time I ask Him what He wants from me, all I hear is:

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29

This past year has been filled with a lot of labor, a lot of going. Applying for grad school. Meeting up with college friends for a girls’ weekend in Chicago. Traveling to Iceland for a week in June and Boston in July for a family vacation. Getting trained as a court appointed special advocate for kids. Starting grad school. Getting another year of the after-school program I co-lead up and running. Traveling for work to Oklahoma City three times, and Des Moines twice. Attending a writer’s conference. Going to New York City for a mother/daughter weekend.

It’s been a beautiful, whirlwind of a year—but it has been a whirlwind.

Now, at least for this week, I think it’s time to take a breath. To sit and enjoy the moment. To be still. And wait.

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalm 46:10

 

I was thinking recently about how my generation doesn’t really do Christmas letters like my parents’ or grandparents’ generations do. This blog post is sort of my non-traditional (belated) Christmas letter. 🙂 I’m so thankful to each and every one of you who drop me notes of encouragement or let me know when you’ve enjoyed a post – I’d love to hear about what this year has brought for you! Please feel free to write a comment below or send me a note through my contact form. I love hearing from you! Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!

4 Comments:

  1. Hi Ruthie ~ Thank you for your inspiring messages. They always give me good food for thought. I’m from one of those generations that used to do Christmas letters, but with the social media age, we too are giving up on them and keeping in touch with friends and family with bits and pieces of our lives posted online. I admit that I don’t miss those letters. I love photography and the pictures people post are “worth a thousand words”. Thank you for sharing some of yours and helping us get to know you a little better. I can sense that, even though we are from different generations, we may still be kindred spirits. Our common faith connects us over time and space. The two scriptures you mentioned are among my favorites. Thank you again for all you do to plant seeds of faith with all generations. Blessings to you always ~ Karen

    • Hi Karen! I love catching up with people and seeing their Christmas photos, etc. on social media too. I have so many friends out-of-state, and I would never be able to keep up with them without the convenience of today’s technology – although the old-school part of me still loves a good snail mail letter on occasion. 🙂 Thanks for reading! I hope you have had a wonderful holiday season so far!

  2. Happy New Year Ruthie! What a timely devotional . God has given me a strong yearning to REST at his feet this year. As often as possible. Your devotion confirms God’s word to me. Thank you! Rest in him and we will do more for God then we could ever imagine. Thanks for using the gift of writing.

    • Thank you so much for sharing! I hope you are able to find rest in Him throughout this next year. Happy New Year to you and your family!

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