Friday, January 9, 2009

haste, haste to bring Him laud

{my new nativity scene, all the way from bangladesh}

i took down the christmas decorations the other day, which is a bummer for a variety of reasons.

1. it was work, and not the good kind of work with a satisfying pay-off at the end. at the end, all i had was fake pine needles to be vacuumed. and also a big empty space in my living room.

2. the end of christmas just reminds me that there are still months of winter ahead, but no more holidays left to break them up.

3. the end of the holiday season means the end of all that deliberate kindness, togetherness and general good cheer. sure, we all say we are going to do our best to carry that special holiday feeling with us all year long, but let's be honest. i've already honked angrily at someone on the road, and used several not-nice-names, and it's only jan. 9.

mostly, though, i hate the end of christmas because it means the end of a whole month, a whole season!, of reflecting on Jesus Christ, in whom i believe and who i love very much. i love the opportunity christmas provides to think about the Savior's birth. i love the songs that celebrate His life. i love the scriptures that teach us of His ultimate sacrifice. i love the reminder to take the time to think about Him and how i am going to better follow His example. i feel close to Christ at christmas, and that is why i am always sad to see the season go.

but, unlike good will toward men, a closeness to Christ is something i believe i can (with a little work) enjoy all the year long. and, despite its failings in the historical accuracy department, i love celebrating christmas in december, because it means i can end one year and start another with my head and my heart closer to the right place.

just after the new year, a few years ago, my home teacher came over and shared a short and familiar scripture about the Savior from the book of luke. it says, "and Jesus increased in stature and wisdom, and in favor with God and man." he suggested that this verse could act as a sort of roadmap, a guide for goals and resolutions for the upcoming year, divided into four categories: physical (stature), intellectual (wisdom), spiritual (favor with God) and temporal (favor with man). i have used this framework in the years since, and my goals have taken on more meaning as i have patterned them after the perfect example.

being caught up in the living of my own life, it can be difficult to see the forest for the trees, and i am sure your experience is no different. but looking back on the year i can see some important strides, and i bet you can, too. (do you suppose a killers music video shoot counts for favor with God and man? i think it might.)

if i were to confess one shortcoming, however, it would be some neglect in my spiritual life, which i think ultimately makes growth in other areas difficult as well. as i think is human nature with anything that feels comfortable and is going relatively well, i have settled into something of a spiritual rut. a "getting by fine but just getting by" kind of attitude. a plateau. one great thing about plateaus is they give you a chance to stop, breathe, close your eyes and then open them again to look out over the expanse of what you have just accomplished. but eventually it is time to start climbing again.

and so, i have commited myself this year to live a little more boldly. to climb higher, dive deeper, explore more sincerely, and let more of the unimportant things go. i am still working out a lot of the specifics, but this will definitely include a renewed committment to prayer, scriptures and the temple. it will also include trips to somewhere in the country and the world i have never been before. i plan to get my savings up and my student loan down. i am going to run a 10k and ride my bike for many more hundreds of miles. i am going to write and write and write, read and read and read, learn and learn and learn.

it's going to be a good year.


Katy said...

I'm so glad you wrote this Frances. :)

I really needed to hear it from somewhere and I especially appreciated the part about a plateau giving you a chance to look back at what you've accomplished.

I've kind of spent my current plateau looking at all the work ahead and not at the scenery behind.... So thanks. :)

And reading your blog always reminds me of why I think you rock!

<3 Katy

melissa spencer said...

thanks fj!