Whether or not you're returning any gifts this week, here are four prayer-filled exchanges worth making.
Posted in , Dec 21, 2017
The first few days after Christmas are always busy at the mall or shopping center. It is often more crowded then that it was before the holiday. People may be spending gift cards they received or using time off work to scout the post-Christmas sales. But many people are returning gifts.
No one needs a Dean Martin CD, right? (Who is Dean Martin, you ask? What’s a CD? Google it.) And fighting crowds and store policies to exchange near-misses (and nowhere-near misses) can be a stressful, draining experience. But there are a few post-Christmas exchanges that are not only less difficult but even blessed and beautiful. You might consider making these four exchanges—exchanges that could turn your heart and mind toward prayer:
1) Exchange noise for silence
All season we've been assaulted with noise: music playing, bells ringing, horns honking, people chattering. If it doesn’t get to us, it’s because we’ve grown accustomed to it. The days following Christmas are a great time to find a place of silence. Look for a chair, a corner or a park bench and spend just five minutes in silence. Close your eyes. Breathe it in. Make the very absence of sound a prayer of presence.
2) Exchange fast for slow
Stop. Just stop. You’ve been racing for weeks, haven’t you? Maybe you collapsed when Christmas Day arrived, but it may also be that you’re still going too fast. Take a breath. A deep breath. Find a garden to walk through. Or a fish tank to watch. Choose the slow line at the grocery store checkout. Drive the speed limit. Try to spend at least a day in a slower gear.
3) Exchange doing for being
Checklists. Deadlines. Appointments. Chores. Chances are, your life has consisted of going, going, going and doing, doing, doing for quite some time. We get swept up in countless tasks and forget the simple truth that we are human beings, not human doings. Our souls need time and space to be. Do you even know what that looks like? How that feels? Maybe you did once; maybe you’ve forgotten. Or maybe you’ve never known. Either way, try it now, in these post-Christmas days. Devote a day or afternoon or an hour to just being. No agenda. No “to do” list. Just you, God and the world in which you live. You might start by saying to God, simply, “Here I am” (one of the best prayers you can pray). Take off your watch. Shut down your phone. Go on a walk or a bike ride. Stare out the window. Slowly sip a hot cup of cocoa. And leave the “doing” to everyone else.
4) Exchange giving for receiving
Most people exert more effort—and derive more enjoyment—from giving than from receiving, especially around Christmastime. Some of us even struggle to receive from others, maybe even from God. As a result, we deplete ourselves. Our souls end up at day’s end—or year’s end—empty and poor. So give a little…to yourself, by receiving from God and others. Allow yourself to receive God’s grace and love; meditate on how much He loves you—for you. You might pair your meditation time with a massage or a manicure. Or accept a friend’s almost-forgotten offer of an afternoon of babysitting your kids. Or use that extra gift card on yourself, reflecting as you do on God and His precious gifts to you.
Whether or not you return the Dean Martin CD, make a priority of exchanges like these. They cost you little or nothing but each one of them will pay you back richly.