By Elaine Fraser
Last year, I began the year with huge intentions—completing two in-progress novels and writing another one. I published one, but stalled on the other two.
In August, I came back from a Margie Lawson Immersion Class filled with motivation and tools, ready to smash out the last 30 000 words of a contemporary women’s fiction novel. Instead, my aunt had a traumatic accident and life was put on hold for the next couple of months while the family cared for her.
I’d also agreed to work on a book for a school I used to teach at, and the job turned out to be bigger than I expected. There were other projects as well involving my husband’s work and I realised I hadn’t had a day off for months.
By October, I was burnt out and I found myself in a downward spiral.
On the outside, my life looked perfect. On the inside, I was a mess.
I retreated. I stopped taking calls, avoided people, read Present over Perfect by Shauna Niequist, listened to Touch the Sky by Hillsong United, prayed and gave myself permission and space to heal.
I attended a Christian writer’s retreat and got some space to pray, think and learn.
I went to a friend’s home for a week and retreated with a group of friends. We talked, laughed, shared, prayed and wrote. We were there to write, but I found pieces of my soul I thought were lost.
As I drew near to Him, as I made room for Him, He drew near.
It’s taken a few months to work through what happened and why my physical and mental health crashed so badly. Some of it was due to the side-effects of medicines, some was exhaustion, and some due to not tending my spiritual health.
Every January first, my husband and I buy a kikki.K year planner and plot out events, adventures and work commitments. We’ve also started plotting out space in our schedules.
Space for rest.
Space for retreat.
Space for God to move in our lives.
It’s just not about planning the big things in our lives, it’s about making space in the everyday. In the everyday, we need to build a rhythm that works for us.
The wide-open spaces of a new year lie before us and it's important to make space to retreat and renew regularly.
Writing is not just a cerebral activity without any context. Family, work, responsibilities, illness, exhaustion, volunteering, study, and travel all swirl around us and impact our work.
Let's aim to build the unforced rhythms of grace into our lives in 2017.