In our calendar year, we often look to January as a fresh new start. A time to start new goals and resolutions. Try new things. Or finally, tackle that big project we have been meaning to get to. We tend to see January and the new year as a time for new.
And while this might traditionally be true. These aren't the rules nature follows.
In nature, winter is a time for resting. The trees go to sleep and store energy for the coming spring months. Bears go into hibernation. Even the sun sets a little earlier. I find it interesting that in our human nature, we try to "do" and be overly active when nature itself is at rest. And while we cannot go into hibernation, ignoring all of our daily responsibilities, we can honor the wisdom that God used when He crafted our seasons. We can be attuned to the rhythms of rest.
I have found that the winter months are perfect for reflection, quiet, and slowly building new habits, rather than steamrolling the new year. January is the perfect time to reflect on where you are and where you want to be and create a plan for the year or decade to come. As we adjust to this new year and season, give yourself permission to go slow, take your time, and settle in. Don't worry about rushing to the next thing or pushing for your next goal. Instead, sit, reflect, and rest for a while. Give yourself a moment to release anything from last year and gain energy for the year to come. The wisdom of our culture tells us to "hurry" and "start your New Year resolutions today!" But the wisdom of the Lord says "There is a time and a season for everything" (Ecclesiastes 3:1, NIV.)
Here are a few ways to rest intentionally this winter season:
Reflect: Take time to journal and reflect on last year. What did you learn? What was most challenging What was most rewarding?
Quality time: Give yourself the gift of quality time with God, loved ones, and yourself. No agendas, no rules, no studies, just time to enjoy one another.
Activities: Do something you love. Go for a hike, watch a movie, or sit at a park. Do something you enjoy.
Read: January is a great time to start a new reading habit. If you have goals this year to lose weight, write a book, get a degree, or start a new activity, try grabbing a book on that topic. Reading about a topic is a great way to get yourself ready to embark on a new journey.
Clean up: Tree shed their leaves in the fall in preparation for rest in the winter. Try decluttering your desk, house, or mind to give yourself space to rest.
Make a plan: No one said you couldn't have goals this new year. Rather than rushing into those goals, take time this winter to create a plan first. How will you tackle those goals? Who or what will hold you accountable? What resources do you need? What is your timeline? Mapping out your goals will give you the structure to see those goals through.
Prayer and fasting: Of course, the new year is always a good time to pray, fast, and set your year before the Lord. Adding in a special time of communion can also add to your relationship with the Lord.
Ask: Ask the Lord for a significant word or Bible verse for the year. This can help guide and encourage you through the year.
There are plenty of ways to rest not rush into the new year. Be intentional to ask the Lord for wisdom and guidance and set your plans before Him.
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight." - Proverbs 3:5-6