A year ago we were trying to get through our first Christmas without Jane. It was difficult figuring out our new normal, our wounds of grief were fresh and painful. But we were still in our "bubble" of spiritual strength. You know that feeling around you after you have a new baby in your home? Our bubble was just like that but magnified. Heaven was around us and carrying us. We were surrounded by so much faith and love and service, both on earth and heaven. We felt so many people cheering us on. We had several packages coming every day, so many prayers and texts and gifts and visitors to help us feel buoyed up. Last Christmas was hard, but definitely our most spiritually centered one yet.
I thought this year would be easier because I had survived one Christmas before. It was easier in the sense that Jane's death isn't so fresh and new. But this Christmas season was just a difficult as last. With neighbor treats to bake, Christmas cards to mail, gifts to buy, packages to wrap, several (Fourteen!!) holiday parties to attend, suitcases to pack, hundreds of miles to drive and all the busy-ness that comes with Christmas. All of those things are nice and fun, but our simple Christ-centered Christmas we felt last year seemed to slip away too easily from us.
I craved that last Christmas. We just cherished every quiet moment with our little family and felt connected to Jane. This year in the rush of meeting all the Christmas to-do's it was hard to feel her near.
The weeks leading up to Christmas were a whirlwind and I had to intentionally schedule time for myself to just be still. It was more difficult to find still moments then rushed moments. I was reminded of an incredible conference talk by President Uchtdorf several years ago. Finally, on Christmas evening, after getting to a point where I wasn't a person I recognized or enjoyed being. I lost my emotions to a pillow; I gave myself the time, even though I felt like I should be doing a half dozen other things, to read it again. The talk is called "Of Things That Matter Most."
I realized this month how badly I NEED quiet, calm and relaxed time every day. I cannot handle an over scheduled life. It makes me, grumpy, stressed and anxious and I lose the closeness of the Holy Ghost that I desperately need to endure this life. I don't feel Jane near me often, but the only times I ever have felt her near were in those alone and quiet moments. There has never been a busy, franctic day when I have felt her close. There is a lesson to be learned in that. There are many opportunities for growth in our lives that we are missing out on because we have overscheduled ourselves.
"Let’s be honest; it’s rather easy to be busy. We all can think up a list of tasks that will overwhelm our schedules. Some might even think that their self-worth depends on the length of their to-do list. They flood the open spaces in their time with lists of meetings and minutia—even during times of stress and fatigue. Because they unnecessarily complicate their lives, they often feel increased frustration, diminished joy, and too little sense of meaning in their lives." (President Dieter F. Uchtdorf "Of Things That Matter Most")
It will be my personal goal this next year, and especially next December, to simplify life. To chase after simplicity because it is harder to find than busy. And for now I will enjoy one of my favorite months, January.
When I was first married my Mother In Law taught me one of my favorite lessons. For years January was dreaded because all the fun holidays were over. She taught me January was the beautiful calm after the storm. A time to just be and reflect and enjoy life. I love January! "Of Things That Matter Most"