The mason jar sits on my shelf, slowly filling with scraps of paper.

The yellow and white mug sits on my desk, slowly being emptied of those same scraps.

Every Monday I reach into the cup and pull out one folded scrap and I can already feel the smile spreading as my fingers unfold the words hidden inside. It’s a secret message, one I’ve never seen, written by a dear friend. Sometimes it’s a piece of notebook paper with a quote. Sometimes there’s a verse written in black against a stark white page. And sometimes I pull out a folded piece of yellow paper with frayed edges and I read advice or encouragement or a funny memory we’ve shared.

be gentle with yourself

Mondays are hard, I think we can all agree on that. But ever since she gave me a Monday Jar, nearly bursting with 52 folded pieces of paper, Mondays just aren’t so bad. Last November I jokingly said I was going to dump all the papers out of the jar and back into the cup for year 23, but when we celebrated my birthday she gave me a ziploc bag full of 52 new Monday surprises.

It’s got to be the Holy Spirit, but almost every Monday the words are just what I need.

be gentle with yourself.

Four words on a Monday morning and I had to remind myself to breathe.

Four days earlier my world had started to spin and I was swaying back and forth, exhausted and worn down and just overall a bit of a mess. There were words coming at me and words swirling within me and they weren’t all what you might call lovely.

I’ve spent years fighting to drown lies out with Truth and it’s a slippery slope back down into the mud. But then those words.

be gentle with yourself.

I cleared my throat and rubbed my thumb against the folds, straightening out the paper before setting it down front and center on my desk, and I prayed, “Dear Jesus, help me be.”

be gentle with yourself

Help me be gentle when the waves rock hard.

Help me recognize the rough words and tame the thoughts that I wouldn’t dare to speak to another but so easily whisper to myself.

Help me be gentle and gracious to my own heart.

I’m not ‘there’ yet and perhaps it isn’t even a destination that you can ‘arrive’ at. I still catch myself thinking and then believing things I would be ashamed to say about another but more often the light changes to red, I come to a stop and then I get out of the car and off the ride.

The white scrap of paper is still sitting on my desk and as I lean into my word for 2016, I’m finding that once again a Monday surprise came just on time.

He never fails to woo me back to community and His Body, His people, even when I’m wary and weary. For that I am thankful.

It’s Monday again and I’ll pull out a new piece of paper that will join the other before it finds its way into the jar on the shelf.

I know I’ll need whatever the words will be and I pray that as you begin a new week, as you wrestle or wait or wander, you’ll open up these words and let them be a balm to your soul…

be gentle with yourself.

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Related: For When You’re Believing the Lies