This month’s Small Step is a discernment tool brought to you by Deacon Tammy Devine: “It has been a year of yielding, stopping, and proceeding with caution. Waiting at a traffic light, I pondered its symbolism.” Consider the following short reflection from Tammy.
As we approach a yellow light, we might be tempted to zip through and return to old behaviors, routines, and hectic schedules. Yet, the yellow light can become an opportunity to take inventory, to ponder what needs to stop, so you are prepared to re-engage when the light turns green.
This yielding or pausing time allows us to review old ways of living. It invites us to live with intention. Consider those patterns, habits, or behaviors that may never have supported your well-being. Think about what you value, and review how life flows from those values. Do you make decisions based on your values? Where might your life be misaligned?
Now imagine the traffic light as it turns red. Name things that no longer serve you, the thoughts and behaviors that you desire to remove from your life. It might be hours sucked away by meetings or commutes that have robbed your forward movement. Name what is out of line, out of shape to the very core.
Stepping forward to live a life that’s better aligned emotionally, physically, and spiritually will require room to start a new pattern, habit, or behavior. For every new behavior, I have found it helpful and necessary to stop two others to make the room, energy, and time to dedicate and focus on a new green light behavior. Remember, change is difficult. Be gentle and patient with yourself as you let go of that which no longer serves you.
Here is what my yellow light time has illuminated for me: I need to stop eating or drinking after dinner. During the pandemic, I allowed myself to fall into and out of habits. Since our fitness room closed, my workout routine ceased. My evenings included a glass of wine, which led to a snack that resulted in weight gain and a weak, out of shape core.
Now I am back in the fitness room. My green-light practice is to reestablish Plank and Pray planking during my evening tv commercials. My red-light practice is to remove evening snacking, so, no eating and drinking after dinner.
Small Step: Create Your Personal Traffic Light
Meditate on the image of a traffic light and identify where you’re ready to yield, stop, and go forward in your life. First, use your yellow-light time to consider the many aspects of your well-being ― including the financial, emotional, physical, and spiritual. Write down the red-light practices that you intend to stop. Then, write your new green-light practice down on a piece of paper and put it somewhere you’ll be confronted with it as a daily reminder, like on your refrigerator, white board, or mirror. As the season changes and your light turns green, proceed forward, and welcome in the new behavior.
Deacon Tammy L. Devine
Tammy shares her passion for health, healing, and wholeness through consulting, coaching, and retreat facilitation. As an ELCA deacon, registered nurse, parish nurse/coordinator, and ICF certified coach, she collaborates with faith and thought leaders to facilitate personal and communal growth toward living and leading well. Contact her to learn more.