I didn’t like January very much. It felt like a never ending, vast expanse of dreariness. Like thick fog over a graveyard.
Maybe because we had to get used to winter without Christmas and home without Hannah. It could be because something is always left behind when you go through a transition. There’s also a chance I lost my sense of self-worth in the endless days of nothingness.
I actually enjoyed the first two weeks of January. I used the time to relax after Christmas, get the house back to normal, and settle into a daily rhythm. My days felt very intentional and productive. By the middle of the month, the January blues set in.
My mood lifted for a few days, but it disappeared as suddenly as it appeared. Then, after having an emotional last few days of January, I was ready to write off the whole month. But, I didn’t want it to end like that. So I decided to look back over the month and find what was good.
- It felt really good to give myself permission not to set goals or declare a word of the year this year. This is my year of taking life one day at a time which is a very big learning curve for someone who has always been so future oriented.
- I’ve cooked and eaten at home a lot more in January. Both of which I really enjoy. Cooking is a creative outlet for me and makes me feel alive. Gathering around the dining table, or even the t.v., with my people is so deeply satisfying. It makes me feel connected and grounded. The entire process from meal prep to eating at home is just very settling.
- Settling into a daily routine reminded me just how much joy I get from keeping house and caring for my people.
- Taking a nightly walk around the block with my dog has been the highlight of my day on many evenings. I think it’s the combination of the stillness of the night, being surrounded by nature, and having my sweet, sweet dog by my side. I treasure those nightly walks.
- Connecting with new and old friends broke my lonely spell and gave me a sense of belonging and community. I desperately needed that.
- Then, one day I noticed daylight was lasting a little later. That little bit of extra sunlight worked a miracle in my discouraged heart. It made room for hope.
When I think about January with all that in mind, I see goodness in the messy middle.
During Hannah’s bedroom makeover, I was reminded we have to walk through the messy middle to get where we’re going. There was the night I cried after rearranging her room, then the overwhelming job of getting rid of cat urine odor, the added chore of having to wash cat hair and flea dirt out of the mattress cover, then spilling my hot chocolate all over the mattress while trying to make the bed. At that point, I gave up and called it a day.
As Fr. Richard Rohr puts it, we can picture three boxes: order, disorder and reorder. Reorder is the goal. He goes on to say there isn’t a nonstop flight from order to reorder. We have to go through disorder.
I say the same thing, but through the lens of organizing. We order our life into calendars, systems, roles, jobs, routines, relationships, politics, religion and so on, so we can accommodate ‘as is.’ But, ‘as is’ usually comes with baggage, busyness, dysfunction, heartache, hurt…the clutter of life. So we ignore it, shove it down, and try to move on. Because ‘as is’ is familiar.
In an email I sent to my subscribers last week, I told them I’m a girl resurrected. The messy middle, the holy ground of confrontation, overcoming, and rising up, is how I got there.
I still have cluttery days, but we’re not supposed to write them off like I was planning to do with January.
Turns out, January’s endless days were like the empty space left behind when I chopped down a dead tree last Fall. The emptiness disrupted my soul, held me accountable to myself, uprooted insecurities, and called me to let go.
Now, I can leave January behind with a lightness in my spirit. The truth is, it was there the whole time. I just had to walk through the messy middle to find it.