Such beautiful words to our busy striving hearts. We can read through this list, but when do you experience these in your life? We often are not able to find time to rest until we finally flop into bed exhausted at the end of the day.
I’m a type A personality and I like to keep busy. I have a never-ending list of things I feel I should do and an even longer list of things I want to do. I have stressed myself out with my lists of what I want to accomplish to the point of raising my blood pressure and getting hives. The ridiculous thing about this is that none of the things on my lists of to-dos are of earth-shattering in importance. The world will not come to an end if I do not get them completed. When you’re constant striving begins to affect your health, you start to take it a little more seriously. You begin to make some changes. That is what it took for Shauna Niequist also. She describes in her book, Present over Perfect, how the pressure she was under affected her physically and how she kept going for quite a while at the same pace ignoring the symptoms in her body. She kept going until she couldn’t anymore.
Her realization that something needed to change led her to find out what was pushing her to keep going. She found her deeper need to know God’s love for her as she searched her heart. She began to learn about God’s love in ways she previously had not understood bringing her to realize she could stop striving.
When we take to heart the reality of God’s love for us and His presence with us:
- We realize that in Him we have what we need and then we really can slow down.
- We learn to take time to talk with Him and learn more about what really matters to Him.
- We begin to choose to do what matters to Him.
- He gives us the soul-satisfaction that we search for.
I’ll be honest, I struggle with feeling the need to strive, I wrestle with seeking approval. And I search for ways to get love by doing. But I am improving. I am learning to choose moment’s of rest, explore ways to enjoy quiet, and find places in my days to breathe deeply. I am learning more and more about God’s love for me. It is something that we as believers should never stop learning about.
What about you? How do you find quiet?
Some of my favorite ways are
- going for a walk
- sitting on a beach early in the morning
- whispering a prayer to the Lord
- cutting vegetables for homemade soup
- listening to baroque music
- writing in my journal
- watching creatures play in nature
None of these take a lot of time, yet each one quiets my heart and nurtures my soul.
Beyond finding quiet, Shauna Niequist also talks about learning to play. Some may think it sounds silly. And when we weigh the possibility against all we have to do it may seem impossible. But it is so important to our health and happiness. The Lord gave us so much on the beautiful earth to enjoy.
Growing into adulthood often squelches out the playfulness of our hearts. We take on responsibilities, jobs, family, expenses, and we can lose our whimsical spirits. When you take time to watch young children enjoy a game, giggle while splashing in a pool, or jumping up and down on a trampoline, you see the positive effect of play. Play can bring delight to our hearts and as we play together we show love and attention in ways we miss in our busyness.
We can say we are too tired or that we don’t have time for quiet and play, but I think that when we take time to do something relaxing and fun it nourishes us in unexplainable ways, We may be energized by taking time for either one of these. I believe that we may even find ourselves able to do a better job at the tasks that fill our to-do lists. Also, we may find that our spirits are lifted in gifting ourselves with a little stillness or a few moments of time to play.
It seems to me that if Jesus were walking the earth today, we may find Him playing with a group of children in a neighborhood backyard or going fishing and catching a nap under the shade of a tree. It could be that we would see Him sitting on a beach sipping lemonade or possibly enjoying a picnic at a park. Jesus took the time to enjoy people around Him and He took time to get away alone, especially to refresh His soul with His Father.
So, how will you find quiet today? How will you engage in play? Will you honor the Giver-of-Life by choosing something life-giving? If this seems too hard because of the structure of your life right now, talk to the Lord and ask Him to show you where you can have a space for quiet and play. He cares about you as His created child and He will show you out of His love for you.