This morning I woke a little after 4 in the morning, and though my body was still warm beneath the sheets, my mind was already bustling into the day ahead even as my heart sank back into yesterday.
It’s strange how that can happen, isn’t it? How our souls can split before we’ve even had our coffee, can travel ahead to the cares of the future and the sorrows of the past without our eyes even opening?
It helps to take a little time on purpose to consider what’s going on in the invisible places within us.
“One of the most important lessons I have learned over the past few years is how important it is to have time and space for being with what’s real in my life — to celebrate the joys, grieve the losses, shed my tears, sit with the questions, feel my anger, attend to my loneliness.” — Ruth Haley Barton, Sacred Rhythms
Sometimes I would prefer to be with what I hope to be real in my life rather than what is truly real in my life. There’s a place for that, for casting a hopeful vision for the future. But it’s also important to recognize what is true now.
It’s best when I develop the habit of doing this daily, but even once a week will help. My soul needs to know I haven’t forgotten about her. If she knows some intentional time of reflection is coming, she can generally hold out until then.
Tuesday has become that day for me — ordinary, regular Tuesday. I’ve discovered if you want to pay attention to your actual real life, Tuesday is the best place to look.
In fact, the past few years have been for me a practice of embracing what I find on my Tuesdays. I even started a weekly practice I called Tuesdays Unwrapped during a time when my kids were in preschool and the days all ran together. I was nostalgic enough to know that one day I would probably miss those days but sleep-deprived enough to not be able to fully appreciate them.
So I decided to mark the Tuesdays, to celebrate on purpose the messy, the lovely, and the unexpected moments of my real life. The best way I could think of to do that was to write about them and then invite others to join me.
Every week, over one hundred women would write, unwrapping their Tuesday moments on their blogs. After several years, I stopped doing the blog link up. With how quickly the Internet sweeps us along these days, I’m not sure that kind of weekly link up would be quite so successful now. But I’ve continued the practice of unwrapping the moments on my own.
The way she twirls her hair when she’s thinking.
The worn out corner of the sofa where everyone fights to sit.
The stack of books next to my bed.
Quiet morning conversations with my husband.
But our Tuesdays aren’t only filled with the ordinary beautiful. If we mark only these, then we aren’t really paying attention to our whole life.
What about the misunderstanding you had with your brother last night?
The awkward interaction with the woman at church?
The rate at which your daughter seems to be traveling away from your heart?
The phone call you dread making?
When we make time and space for being with what’s real in our life, we can’t only choose to see the lovely. We must allow the disappointments to rise up as well and give ourselves permission to embrace our whole life in the presence of Christ. Our souls are desperate for it.
Here are some questions that help me do that:
What am I excited about?
What am I anxious over?
Where do I feel lonely?
What am I celebrating?
For what am I thankful?
Who is standing with me?
Who am I standing up for?
What has disappointed me?
Where do I see hope?
With only a week or so left until Christmas, perhaps you will take a few moments to answer these questions for yourself as you consider your own life this Tuesday—not as an assignment but as a gift. God came down to be with us in every ordinary moment.
What are some of those moments for you right now? We’d love for you to unwrap them in the comments, no matter how lovely, messy, or ordinary they might be.