Alright, time for vulnerability. God is teaching me so much in this season and while it is so good, it is so hard. I thought I would share one big thing I am learning.
God is teaching me all about slowing down. Go, Go, Go, Do, Do, Do, Check, Check, Check – Its the American way. Its the New York way. Its the Blake (my maiden name) way. My dad only slows down to crash and sleep or when he is on vacation. My mom always had multiple jobs in addition to kids. On the Strengthfinders test, I have Achiever, Responsibility, and Discipline as three of my strengths. Meaning, being high-capacity, doing, and on top of things isn’t just what I have seen growing up or what I have learned through the years, it is innately a part of who I am.
I used to joke – “If I don’t have something to do, I will make something to do.” And while its so true, I am learning its not okay. Its not okay that I can’t sit for 5 minutes without feeling like I should be doing something with my hands or mind. Its not okay that I can’t play for 20 minutes on the floor with my kids because I am not good at that and better at getting things done. Its not okay that I can’t let the crumbs on the floor sit there while I chose to focus on having a heart-to-heart with my kid.
When my mom’s trip got canceled last December, I was bummed. Bummed that I wouldn’t see her, bummed that I wouldn’t have help while Ed was gone, but as I processed why I was so upset, I was also bummed because I was looking forward to using that week to slow down and just be present with my mom and kids. This was my first warning light that something was wrong.
In January, I started reading the book “Present Over Perfect” by Shauna Niequist and the Lord began to use it to rock my world. As I read it, I started to be able to put words to exactly what was wrong and what needed to change.
“No more pushing and rushing. No more cold pizza at midnight, no more flights, no more books, no more houseguests, no more of all of these things, even things I love, things I long for, things that make me happy. No more. Only less. Less of everything. Less stress. Less crying. Less noise. Less TV. Less wine. Less online shopping. Less one more thing one more thing one more thing, whether that one more thing is a trip or a movie or a boat ride or a playdate. Less cramming 36 – or 56 or 106 – hours into a day that has only ever held 24.”
“What I ache for these days is space, silence, stillness, Sabbath. I want to clear away space and noise and things to do and things to manage. I was less of everything. Less stuff. Less rushing. Less proving and pushing. Less hustle. Less snapping at my kids so that they’ll get themselves into the car faster so we can go buy more stuff that we’re going to throw away. Less consumption. Less feeling like my mind is fragmented and my stomach is bloated and my life is out of control.”
“As I unravel the many things that brought me to this crisis point, one is undeniably my own belief that hard work can solve anything, that pushing through is always the right thing, that rest and slowness are for weak people, not for high-capacity people like me. Productivity became my idol, the thing I valued and loved above all else. One of the early stories I told about myself is that my ability to get-it-done is what kept me around. I wasn’t beautiful. I didn’t have a special or delicate skill. But I could get stuff done, and it seemed to me that ability was my entrance into the rooms into which I wanted to be invited.”
These things she wrote all resonated with me in a big way. And I realized that I had to slow down or I would miss out on so much. Really knowing and relating with Jesus. Being present with my family and enjoying every moment of their lives that is flying by way too quickly. Knowing my husband’s hopes and dreams instead of just viewing him as someone to help me do all I have to do. Being able to grieve and be in touch with how I am feeling versus just powering through things. And here is what I am finding.
I really, really like it. Slowing down has been balm for my soul.
Lets just note that I am not there yet. In fact, I feel like I am on the cusp of something that if I chose to take my eyes off the prize and stop relying on Jesus for one minute in this journey of learning to slow down, I will go right back to where I came from and what I know. Intellectually, I know I need to change but when it comes to action, it is SO HARD.
BUT I am learning to treasure moments of silence and stillness to just be with the Lord and hear from him. I am learning to enjoy moments where I get to just sit on the floor with the kids and hear about every aspect of their day. I am learning to say no to more things, even things that are things that I really want to do. I am learning to be okay with having a wide open day where we just sit at home. I am learning to have nothing or very few things on my to-do list on the day, which is unheard of for me. I am learning that at the end of a busy week, we just need a day of Sabbath. And it is all so very good.
To be honest, I am still trusting God for the balance. I do like to have challenges and responsibilities and even looking at my Strength Finders, God has made me like this, so to deny who I am wouldn’t be good either. And I have 4 kids so things can’t just stop or slow down altogether. And I am still actively involved in ministry so I am working part-time even while staying home with the kids. So figuring out how to slow down and have moments of stillness and silence and not always doing and going in the midst of my life stage, ministry, and other demands is challenging. But I think slowly, very, very slowly, I am learning that even God rested and if He rested, I desperately need to figure out how to rest too.