As October comes to a close, we are constantly reminded that the holiday season is creeping up on us.  While this time of year is supposed to be joyful, peaceful, and picture-perfect filled with caramel candied apples, pecan pie, and flying reindeer, it is generally filled with busier than usual schedules, stress, and nostalgia.  What we often forget to do during this time is to slow down.  That’s something I’m trying to work on this year.  Isn’t that strange?  I have to work on slowing down.  It’s so contradictory and doesn’t make much sense, but I have a feeling a lot of you reading this can definitely identify with that feeling.  It’s funny how “slow down” generally comes as a command from people who are concerned about us, but it is seldom a command we impress upon ourselves.  So many of us need a reminder to slow down or to stop and smell the roses every once in a while, and I’m hoping this serves as a reminder for those who need it. 

Much too often, we are constantly worried about what we need to do for others, whether it be our friends and family who hold great significance to us.  We want to ensure they are doing well and we do whatever it takes to make sure of it.  By slowing down, on the contrary, we take the time to take care of ourselves.  (By the way, if you still think you aren’t a priority, taking care of you allows you to be a better version of yourself for friends and family.)  Slowing down allows us to decompress and take a moment to look inwardly and reflect on the things we would like to work on.  Personally, I like to try and take this time of year to reflect on what I’ve accomplished and what goals I have yet to meet for the year.  It leaves me with enough time to plan additional goals for the new year or amend current goals and make them more realistic.  What I also try to do is look critically at myself and my actions to ensure I am perfecting myself on a daily basis.  I ask myself questions such as the following:

“How are my actions affecting my life in a positive way?”

“How can I be more kind to myself?”

“How can I lead myself further away from sin and closer to God?” 

The point is, I try to ensure that every action I take is building upon my last one and leading me to the place I ultimately want to be or to a feeling I ultimately want to have, whether that be a sense of happiness, accomplishment, or well-being.  I constantly remind myself that the bigger picture is a collection of small actions that I take on a daily basis.  Every choice I make builds into a life that I will hopefully look back on at the ripe old age of 100 and feel proud of.  But as I go through this process, and as I hope you will, it is important for us to not forget to ensure we are meeting God’s standards and becoming one with him.  As Christians, part of self-reflection means that we should work on the necessary aspects of our life that may be leading us farther away from Jesus’ teachings, and, in turn, farther away from God.  A quote by Oswald Chambers states, “Never allow anything that divides or destroys the oneness of your life with Christ to remain in your life without facing it.”  With that, I urge you to make the time to slow down this holiday season and really self-reflect in a way that it mutually beneficial for your relationship with yourself and your relationship with God.