In what is, arguably, the busiest season of the year, I find myself in the middle of a time-use overhaul. In the last several months, I found myself painfully overstretched in my time, and somehow even in the leftover moments, I was still floundering with it. I have lamented over the hours flying by to God, to my friends, and my husband, a lot…bless his heart. But no matter how I tried, I felt like I was walking through a life wasted.
Do you ever feel like that? Like your entire body can be present and at work in good, and even meaningful!, things, but your heart and mind are so distracted and absent, that you feel like you missed it? I have sat across from inmates in prison and wasted it. I’ve had coffee with a woman aching from a hard situation in her life and wasted it. I’ve gone on a rare date night with my husband, and yet, wasted it. I don’t mean wasted as in, not worth it, I mean wasted because I walked away wishing it had gone different, desperate for another chance to encourage and be there for them. The primary cause of my wasted opportunities was because I wasn’t prepared for it all. I didn’t ready my heart to make the most of my words and their time.
When it comes to regulating something, I am very much like a horse in need of blinders on. I am strong-willed and very much like the dog on the movie Up who is always snapping back to thoughts of squirrels, no matter what important moment is happening. So, I’ve gotten a bit drastic in my time management lately, and asking my husband to hold me accountable to my attempts to form new habits.
It may seem like an overhaul is drastic especially this time of the year, but sometimes drastic is what is needed. At least when you’re as hard headed as me, it is. But why SO rigid on my time and determined in my efforts? Because reading through the story of Jesus’ birth, there are two words my eyes rest upon. I stare at them, willing them to be untrue but seeing myself in them despite my desires: no room.
I am the innkeeper.
I talk a big talk as the season approaches, and I have such desires of where my heart focus will be, but once Christmas is upon us, I look around and realize that my time and choices said there was no room for Him. No extra room, at least. No room for His birth. No room for the prophesies leading up to that moment. No room in my heart to look through all the Christmas glimmer to see Him standing there on the other side of it, looking at me with calm, patient eyes, willing me to drop it all and walk away with Him for a moment.
He has gone ahead of us and is busy preparing a place for us, and yet, I don’t do the same so often for those He has placed in my life. I live out a life that believes the lie that there’s no room. No room in my time, no room in my head, no room in my heart, my home, my budget….
And to be honest? I’m pretty sick and tired of the lies. Because when I step outside of it a minute, I see the truth. But inside of it? As hard as I try, and as much as I care, I find myself rushing and rushing to check off lists and squeeze things in. I want to spend time with people, but often I feel like they need me as if I’m what stands between them and collapse. But I am no savior and I have no healing powers.
But, there is something I do have to offer up with open palms: a heart prepared. A heart that has readied for time with others so I can sit across from them over coffee, dinner, or the ever-watching gaze of a guard and listen instead talk. I can look into their eyes and know that the only One who can save them is One who was born and placed in a manger, but grew into a man and changed the entire world. I can remind them of His promises and love for them, and that will be so much more than enough.
I have a great desire to leave the presence of others almost bursting with all the words unsaid, so that I may pour them out to Him instead. I want to ask questions that cause true reflection and help me to know them. I want to walk away empty, because I have filled them up. But what I have found, is that the catalyst for all of that starts way back down the line in time before that moment. It can only happen when I have been so intentional with my time and gifts, that I may not be great and as boastworthy as an inn on a dark night, but I am as welcoming and warm as a stable.
Normally, this is a New Year’s sort of thing, but the people in my life are there now. Max Lucado says that you change your life when you change your heart, and that is so, so badly what I want for Christmas. So Merry Christmas, and may your gatherings this year be full of the light and warmth of a stable, even if they aren’t as done up and fancy as an inn.