It’s 74 degrees right now on a sunny day in mid-November, so I am resting. I’ve been getting better at that lately- at taking a break from the hustle, as my new favorite person on the entire earth Shauna Niequist would say. I’ve got an apartment that could [always] use some cleaning, four papers due in the next two weeks and a workout DVD that is taunting me just with its very existence on my shelf. So do you know what I did? I made a chai latte and I opened the balcony door and I sat on the couch, and I feel so wonderfully satisfied about it.
God has been teaching me some really important lessons and showing me some really cool things this year, but I think this may be the one that will have the greatest, most positive impact on how I live. Because busyness is a part of my life, and I would venture to say it’s a part of yours too- maybe even an overwhelming part. I’m a junior in college. I have homework to do and tests to take and a [minuscule at best] social life to maintain. And then I have a full-time summer internship. I have to apply for grad school. I have to actually start paying bills next year when we lease a house. So I can imagine my life is only going to get busier from here, and I bet you probably have a list of responsibilities too, just as long or longer than mine.
Here is a realization I have come to that is changing the way I view my life: being busy doesn’t have to suck!!! It doesn’t have to suck and it doesn’t have to suck the life out of you.
“Many of us considered our souls necessary collateral damage to get done the things we felt we simply had to get get done – because of other people’s expectations, because we want to be know as highly capable, because we’re trying to outrun an inner emptiness… We’re chugging through the day on fear and caffeine… Falling into bed without even a real thought or feeling or connection all day long, just a sense of having made it through.”
-Shauna Niequist, Present Over Perfect
Over the past few weeks and months and years, my soul has become necessary collateral damage. I get so busy- I build up an insane to-do list, I commit myself to too many people and places and things, I create such unrealistic expectations for myself- and when I come to the absolute end of my ability to keep up with it all, I stop altogether. I let my exhaustion and anxiety get the best of me. I sleep all day, I ignore my responsibilities and I’m positive that I’m not entirely pleasant to be around. Not the most effective system, I am aware.
I can check off everything on my lists, I can meet all my deadlines and be on time to every meeting. But like my girl Shauna says, I fall into bed at night and even though I may feel accomplished, I also feel disconnected and unfulfilled.
And life can be so much better than that!!! Let me tell you how: press pause. Take a break. Don’t allow yourself to get to the point where you need to press stop- where you need to shut down altogether. Instead, allow yourself intervals of rest in each day. Force yourself, if you have to, to be silent for a few moments. Even if that feels empty.
The apartment will get cleaned. The quiz will be taken. Dinner will be made. You can, and you should, take five minutes or fifteen minutes or an hour for yourself. Praise God for the life and the opportunities He’s given you. Tell Him that you’re weary or worried or overwhelmed. Ask Him for whatever it is you need to get through the day. Thank Him for his goodness and His grace and His guidance.
So many of us have just completely bought into the lie that busy days are bad days. You wake up in the morning and you know during the next twelve hours you will be running around every which way, and before you even get out of bed you start wishing you could just climb right back into it. But you can be busy and at peace at the same time! You can have one hundred things to do but still be present. You can have a day filled with lists and plans and schedules that is satisfying and fulfilling. It is possible!!!
Take a minute… or thirty if you need. Settle your soul. Focus your mind not on what you think is expected of you, but on the fact that Jesus is walking [or running] along with you everywhere you go today. He makes Himself so present in our lives in every moment. What a shame it would be if we didn’t allow ourselves to be present enough in our own lives to notice that, and if we didn’t allow ourselves enough moments of clarity and rest in which to enjoy it.
Let’s press pause today, okay?
[Would just like to note that yesterday when I wrote the majority of this post, it was 74 and sunny. Today it is 35 and snowing. I am still resting, but just with three layers of sweatshirts on.]