We are already halfway through the calendar year- this weekend, we welcome the month of July! This midway point seems to be telling me that it is time to evaluate how I am living my days, especially during my free time. “Free” time isn’t exactly FREE, is it? Yes, free time is free of commitments, obligations, appointments or routines. Yes, free time is an opportunity to freely choose what we would like to do. But since our earthly days are limited, how we spend our free time comes at a cost. Free time not wisely or worthily spent fritters away precious hours of life.
So I am asking questions: Is how I am spending my free time helping me to grow into the best ME, the best person God created me to be? Am I listening for God and being attentive to my soul? Are my free time activities consistent with my personal integrity and wholeness? Am I choosing the better choices over the good? Certainly there are times when we simply need to let our minds and bodies rest as we refrain from anything that requires much thought or effort. But I believe some changes to my free time activities are needed.
July is going to be a month of mindfulness for me. I hope to be more aware of how my free time activities impact my soul and frame of mind. I’d like to notice whether what I do (or say or think) in my free time actually resonates with my well-being or conflicts with it. I’d like to be attentive to the ways of living that feed my soul and also are consistent with whom God calls me to be.
For example, in the past six months, I have “liked” or “loved” lots of political posts on Facebook, and even posted a few of my own. But I recently found that a better choice- one that brought greater satisfaction and peace- was in writing to my senator. I noticed that sharing a Facebook post about the immigration issues felt futile, but donating to Lutheran Immigrant and Refugee Services felt worthwhile and helpful.
Another activity I will evaluate this month is how I unwind in the evenings, when my mind and body are tired. I enjoy watching HGTV. But as Jim and I try to watch our budget and live more simply, does HGTV cause a bit of envy or increase my desire to purchase new items? (Do I really need an open concept with no popcorn ceilings?) Will I feel more content by reading a good book, listening to music, or playing a board game with Jim? Would looking up craft ideas on Pinterest inspire new creative projects for supplies I have on hand? HGTV is not a bad choice, but is there a better one?
When I am waiting for an appointment, sitting on the porch, or stuck in a traffic jam, would it be better to call or text someone that I’m thinking of them, instead of playing Sudoku on my phone? Would praying fill the time AND my soul? Do I while away too many hours with mindlessness? I will be curious to see if I accomplish more, make a greater difference for good, or feel more peaceful this month!
Finally, I’d like to quietly review my day before going to bed. Instead of stressing about tomorrow’s concerns, I plan to talk with God about my day. Did I serve God well? Did I serve others as best I could? Did I tend my spirit? I hope to take a few moments to listen to my body and spirit and evaluate how healthy and whole they feel. Was my free time this day spent in the ways that please God and bring joy to my well-being? I would like to fall asleep being mindful that God loves me and will guide me again tomorrow.
If this month of mindfulness appeals to you- I invite you to join me! Each day, let’s try to evaluate our free time activities and notice what feeds our souls, what contributes to our integrity and spirit, and what brings about greater good. I would love to hear how you feel when August rolls around!