Still having trouble being still

I could keep this post really short and sum it up in two words: SLOW DOWN.

But since when have I ever kept it short?

As I was trying to finish the manuscript for my second book, I had coffee with my friend Marcia to run some ideas past her. My new book will be a Bible study—sort of a prayer activity book, with eight weeks of prayer exercises. For Day 7 of each week, I titled it “A Day of Rest” and created short, quiet thoughts and activities for those days. Something simple, some way to stay connected and pray without ceasing, but nothing that was tiring or difficult. My thought process was this: On the seventh day, God rested. Maybe you should, too.

As Marcia and I were discussing it, I told her I was having trouble with the days of rest. Without hesitating, she said, “Oh, that’s ironic!”

I have trouble resting. Relaxation feels indulgent. I have too much to do. Not enough time. Too many things I want to do. People to see. Books to read (and write). Ask my husband—I don’t even really relax on vacation. It’s a problem.

And yet, I’ve been bombarded with messages about why we need to rest. Why we need time to be still and quiet with God. I’m the first to tell about an article I read once saying that kids need down time in order to be creative. Their minds need time to ponder, reflect, wonder, and imagine. When they’re overly busy, there’s no time to simply think.

I read this article today, 6 Reasons You Seriously Need to Slow Down: How a hurried life can destroy your relationship with God. Although I haven’t read her new book yet, I read Emily Freeman’s blog, Creating Space for Your Soul to Breathe, which is all about saying no to busyness. My go-to Bible verse is “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)

And yet…I hurry. Always. I can’t go to a soccer game without a book to read and a notebook to jot ideas in. I can’t pick up my son from school without a book. I answer emails at stoplights (but not while driving, I promise). If I sit in front of the TV, it’s with my calendar and notebooks and laptop spread in front of me. I burn nearly everything I cook because I sit down at the computer to try to finish one more thing and I don’t hear the oven timer go off.

I’ve been starting to wonder why. Do I need to stay busy to feel important? Do I do a lot of meaningless stuff to avoid something else? Am I afraid if I slow down I’ll never get moving again?

I really don’t know.

But it’s becoming clear to me that I need to try.

I’m not exactly sure how. No idea what that really looks like. How do I not feel like I’m wasting time? How do I not worry about all that I’m not getting done? I don’t think I feel the need to earn God’s (or anyone else’s) approval. I know I’m loved by God first and by my friends and family, just the way I am. But I always think that if there is more that I can do, I should. If I have any talents at all, I should use them. If I have all these wonderful people in my life, I should spend time with them. And if I want to do those things, I have to cram it all in and rush rush rush through my days.

I’d love to know what you do to slow down—even if it’s just mentally slowing down. How do you justify it? Or maybe you have no idea what I’m talking about and it comes naturally to you. If so, I’d love to hear your insights.

I’ll start by signing off WordPress and picking up my journal. My house should be quiet for a little while longer. (See, I can’t even sit in quiet without something in my hands. My excuse is that it keeps me focused and I get less distracted.) But please, comment on this post and let me know your thoughts. Do you have these struggles too? How do you handle it?

6 Responses to “Still having trouble being still”

  1. Kris says:

    It’s a bit easier now that I am in my 40s because the kids are older and less demanding. (I can actually go to the bathroom without someone banging on the door and screaming MAMAAAAAAA)
    It’s still hard tho. I always feel like I’m not “enough”.
    If you figure it out, let me know. Better yet, write a book on it! It will be best seller for sure!
    Hugs to you!
    Kris

  2. Cathryn says:

    Art journaling or taking a bath are ways I quiet myself. I love to collage, paint, and write in my journal. It always surprises me what I end up learning from the process. God totally speaks to me in these times.

  3. Susie says:

    Yes, yes. I used to be always doing something, and even my best friend just confessed that she used to be intimidated by me (she’s kept that detail from me for 34 years!) With age, I’d like to say I’ve gotten wiser, but I think I must admit it is a multifactorial health crash that I won’t go into, but it translates to chronic fatigue. So, energy and drive has left me with only guilt for not being busy enough, not getting things done, not keeping up. But I love it when I have a morning with no appointments (which force me to step up the pace), and I can spend a couple of quiet hours with God and breakfast; the Bible, my journal, a hot cuppa joe, perhaps a book that needs to be taken in savoring bits – like “Betrothed” by Douglas Wheeler – and just soak up my Father’s presence. That’s my favorite slow down. Barring that, I find that knitting (soft yarn; texture and rhythm of the needles) while listening to quiet music, or savoring a beautiful book full of pictures – one of those coffee table kind full of gardens, art, European villages… is a mini vacation that rests my eyes and my spirit, taking me from the mundane to another world.

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