Finding God in the year-end pressures

It is the final year-end push before South Africa goes into “December” mode in which nothing much happens until after the first week of January. The academic and work year is hurtling towards its close. School children and university students are writing exams (and many parents feel as if they are writing the exams alongside them!). There are year-end deadlines, reports, school concerts and prize-givings. Everyone is trying to fit in one last meeting to wrap up loose ends.  For many, energy levels are running low but there are still a few weeks of pressure to be negotiated.

The Rugby World Cup win came at a perfect time to bolster our spirits. The unifying energy of the shared joy and pride in the South African team, with Siya Kolisi as an icon of hope, has been a moment of encouragement. It has given us a sense of possibility, and, one hopes, renewed impetus to tackle the significant challenges we face.  Perhaps that much-needed injection of hope can sustain us and increase our generosity toward one another in the year-end pressures.

On a personal level, how can our faith support us? Martin Luther is reputed to have said, “I have so much to do today that I shall have to spend the first three hours in prayer!”  Often the temptation when we are under pressure, is to put prayer aside until life calms down. It is precisely now that we most need to tap into God’s love and energy. We may have less time to give to prayer in this period, but take at least a few minutes every morning and evening to remember that God is with you. Lean toward God. Share your concerns. Ask God for the gifts you need. Perhaps patience so we keep our cool; energy to complete the tasks that remain or the focus to see the year’s projects through.

Sometimes it helps to have a phrase from Scripture to carry into the day and draw on as we pause in the traffic or take a coffee break. Words like: “Be still and know that I am God,” or “I can do all things through the one who gives me strength,” or “I am with you always.”

While we wait for the holidays, take a mini-escape each day.  Look for something beautiful in nature and see God’s creative, renewing energy in it. Go for a short walk. Savour a cup of tea. 

One day at a time. God provided just enough manna in the desert for one day – but each day the manna was replenished. We trust that God will provide the capacity and strength we need as each day comes.

Others around us may be overtired or juggling many tasks.  A simple word of support or encouragement may help sustain them.

God is to be found in all things – and that includes the busy times. Remember to pause and notice.

Dr Annemarie Paulin-Campbell
MEd (Wits); MA Christian Spirituality (London); PhD (UKZN)

Dr Annemarie Paulin-Campbell has worked in the area of Ignatian Spirituality for 19 years and heads up the work of the Jesuit Institute School of Spirituality. Her primary focus is the training and supervision of spiritual directors and the giving of retreats. She is also a registered Psychologist and her PhD focused on the interface between Christian Spirituality and Psychology. Annemarie is an editorial advisor to “The Way” journal of Spirituality and has authored a number of articles relating to the training of Spiritual Directors in an African context. She has contributed to several books, most recently co-authoring a book of Lenten Reflections: “Long Journey to the Resurrection”. She has contributed to international conferences and consultations in Spirituality in the United Kingdom; the United States; Rome; Spain, Ethiopia, Kenya and Zimbabwe.

a.paulin-campbell@jesuitinstitute.org.za @annemariepc_c
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