It’s January, the month of new beginnings. It’s a good time to sort out our treasures and trash. We do it at Christmas, when we carefully pick through the discarded wrapping paper to make sure no treasure is thrown away with the trash. We do it again as we put away our Christmas decorations. Some of the old decorations have become too soiled, some ornaments got broken, and some of the strings of lights became strings of darks. We throw out the trash, but we carefully store the treasures.
It is also a good time to look at our lives. What are the treasures from this last year? Often, they are the moments and experiences made valuable by the grace of God at work in our lives and others. And the trash? That’s those moments, words, or thoughts we recall with embarrassment, disappointment, and sometimes guilt.
It can be hard to tell the difference between trash and treasure. Our minds can play tricks on us. My husband keeps a kind of mental tally of meetings he has conducted: good ones in the plus column, and those he perceived as failures in the minus column. But occasionally someone talks to him, years after a meeting, telling him how much it helped. What he thought was trash, was really treasure.
Even so, most of the time we have a pretty good idea about what to keep and what to toss. So, let’s think about that in a few different parts of life.
Many people make resolutions about what they will do, or not do in the coming year. We prayerfully considered the changes we wanted to see in 2017. And we started well. But life got crazy, the urgent clamored for our attention, and we started slipping back into the old patterns.
Take, for example, social media. We determined to silence our phones- to stop being victims of the buzz, the ring, the chirp.
Generally, we know when messages need immediate attention. The trick is being able to curb the impulse to interrupt everything, even very important conversations, to answer the ones that should wait.
Let’s renew our commitment to free our lives of digital bondage and garbage. Let’s create media free times of the day. Let’s not get caught in Facebook when there are real faces that need our attention. At first it may cause some anxiety. “Maybe I’ll miss something!” “She doesn’t like to be kept waiting.” If necessary, inform those around you that you won’t answer your messages right away, but you promise to write back later. Attentiveness is a treasure. Obsession is trash. [Read more…]