Happy New Year! It’s a new year and not only that, a new decade. And with that, it seems that everyone is really taking the time to look back over the past decade and then figure out their words of the year or resolutions for the next. While, I like to say that I’m not one for most resolutions (we definitely ate Taco Bell at 8pm on New Years Day), I’m a sucker for a good opportunity to think about the things I would like to grow in in the upcoming year. And so I’ve been reflecting on the past and looking toward what I’d like to change in the future- thus entering the Advent of Quiet.
At the beginning of Advent, I was starting to think through what I wanted my “word of the year” to be for 2020. I’d never really done a word of the year before, but it seems to be all the vogue along with making a resolution right now. As I was praying about it, the word “quiet” kept coming up. I laughed at this at first, since I have a very loud house with two rowdy toddlers, a silly husband, and two vocal cats. But as I took the time to think about it, I realized that all of this makes the quiet that much more important.
After thinking about it some more, I checked out Jen Fulwiler’s random word of the year generator, just to see if something better would come. I got the word “Comfort.” And then I heard about Dayspring’s word of the year quiz and took that too. I got the word “Rest.” So I think the Lord is trying to tell me something this year.
You see, I am someone who tends to worry too much about things that I cannot control. I put expectations on myself that nobody else has for me. I say I’m a perfectionist in recovery, when I’m actually still just a perfectionist. The past five years have consisted of us jumping from life change to life change, getting married, having babies, and moving all over the place. Between that, unreasonable expectations of how much I can get done in a day and then filling up the little quiet time I have with social media and other junk, I’m tired.
And so going into Advent, I decided I didn’t want to be all of those things. I wanted to slow down and not do every thing that people say you “have” to do during the holidays. I chose the few things that I wanted to do with my kids. We only did the activities that brought us joy, and we went right through Advent and Christmas with hardly any stress. It was groundbreaking- I didn’t have to take my kids to see Christmas lights or do a million little Christmas crafts if I didn’t want to. Instead, I took the time to pray and reflect on the past year, on what Advent really meant, and what I’m looking forward to in the future. And it was so good.
We’re at a crossroads in our family right now, so there’s a lot to pray about. We will probably be moving soon, and that might mean living in a real, adult house. Which means we’ll be first time homeowners with no idea how to do that. We also are starting to think about if/when we want to add another child to the family. Do we want to fill up our minivan or slow it way down? We’re figuring out what we want to prioritize in our lives and how we’re going to get there. We are deciding what we want our family to look like, the values and traditions we want to start, and what kind of people we want to raise. All of these big changes and decisions seem to be coming at us at once.
Normally, the Type A planner in me would be freaking out at the fact that we have no true plan for what is going to happen over the next year. But God is doing good work in me, and I feel a lot of peace instead. I think my slow, “quiet” Advent has a lot to do with that. And so, I want to bring that into the New Year. But because I am a Type A planner, I do have a little bit of a plan for how I want to make quiet my word of the year.
Make More Quiet Moments
This will be my greatest challenge this year- making more quiet moments. I’m finding that if I am not intentional in creating the quiet time that I need, then I don’t get that time. And as I’m learning more about myself, I know that having that time is important to my mental, physical, and spiritual health. As we are in a transition to no naps with our almost three year old, this is getting a little tricky. At the same time, our one year old is finally sleeping through the night so that opens up a whole new world. The following are the times that I am trying to block off for quiet time.
1) Nap time
Even with our three year old not napping as often anymore, we all need our break during the day. So whether it’s quiet time in our rooms or a little extra screen time for the toddler, nap time is the best time to get a dedicated block of quiet every day.
2) Post Bedtime
Up until a month or so ago, Charlie had his first wake-up within two hours of going to bed, giving us little to no time at night to settle into any sort of quiet. While, my husband and I like to have time at night to catch up and hang out, it’s nice every couple of nights to have intentional quiet time on each of our own parts instead.
3) Weekly Holy Hour
This is my biggest change for this year- adding in a dedicated time of quiet prayer every week. It takes a little more planning ahead of time with my husband, but the couple of times I’ve made it work so far, it has been such a fruitful and refreshing time for me.
Making My Quiet Time Intentional
The step after creating the time is actually using the time “productively.” Sometimes, that looks like prayer time or reading a book. Other times, it looks like taking a nap myself! I took quite a few naps during Advent and it was so good. Often my prayer time or book reading will turn into a nap and that’s okay too. The point of investing in a quiet time is to refresh and rest up so that I can go back at it again with a full spirit, so that I can be more present.
I also struggle with filling all of my quiet, me time with chores or things off of my to do list rather than taking the time to rest and to invest back into myself. One of the things I’ve been working on lately is fitting many of my to do’s in while the kids are awake and self-entertaining (or at least not actively getting into trouble). That way once they’re down for naps or bed, I can take that time to do the things that fill me up instead of chores.
Limiting Social Media
Social media is my biggest detractor from intentional quiet time. Many times, as soon as I get the kids down for their naps/quiet time, I sit down on the couch, start my scrolling on social media, and sometimes don’t look up until I hear a cry from one of their rooms. There are so many beautiful things that people are sharing and not enough time to read and see them all. I so want to be a part of the different groups and conversations that I see happening, but as I get more involved and sucked in, I lose the quiet time that I really need for myself. So, I’m figuring out where my personal boundaries are with social media.
I’m also finding that starting this blog did not help with figuring out those boundaries. Some of you may have noticed that I took a step back from posting during the holidays, and that’s because I was so bogged down with the social media updating that tends to go along with blogging that I got lost in it. Now that I’ve taken time to quiet everything and refresh, I am working on finding the right balance to how much social media I do with the blog. I’m hoping to just do what’s bringing me joy, helping others some, and only as God’s calling me.
So thanks for sticking with me! I’m excited to see what God breathes into this year through my quiet time. And I hope that you will be able to find some quiet time for yourself as well- even if your “word” isn’t quiet. Let me know what your resolutions or words of the year are over on Facebook or Instagram! It should be a good one- 2020. Here’s to the Advent of Quiet!