To be Still
Last week, I was at the house by myself, when our power went out. No breeze, no rain, no storm. The power just went out with absolutely no permission from myself that it could. I was straight up chilling on the couch, indulging in Golden Girls, as I do time and time again, and all of a sudden, a black screen. It was earlier in the afternoon and I could see everything in the house perfectly fine, but I instantly became SO frustrated at the fact that I couldn’t watch the Girls anymore. I checked my phone to see that I had about 30% battery left. I instantly became so nervous; because what the heck was I supposed to do for a few hours while I waited for the power to come back on? Luckily, I thought, I had one of those portable chargers for my phone, and a full battery on my laptop, so I decided to charge up my phone while using the hotspot to connect to my computer so that I could watch something on there. Haha, power-outage; I found the loophole.
Low and behold, my phone charged for about an hour before deciding its juices had run out. With 40% battery on my phone, and my laptop battery slowly decreasing, I laid in my bed watching “Stranger Things” while anxiously eating away at popcorn and checking my battery every 7 seconds to see how fast I was losing power. I was so nervous that my devices were going to die and I’d be left to do absolutely nothing while suffering in boredom.
The power came on about five minutes later.
And all anxiety faded and I praised God for the air conditioning.
I’m reading back on this, now, and I feel quite pathetic. As theatrical as this story sounded, I can tell you there was no peace in my body in the two-hour period when our electricity had gone out. I didn’t want to imagine what I would have to do in my waiting period, and even considered popping some Benadryl to force myself to sleep so I didn’t have to stay up and do nothing. (I do not condone abusing drugs, kids) (Sometimes, I do take a Benadryl when I can’t sleep, though)
There’s a point.
I rely so heavily on things and screens and actions and movement and entertainment that if I’m left without them, I don’t know what to do with myself. I don’t know how to be still, and when I was given the opportunity to be still, I didn’t want it.
I have made myself so busy and so anxious to be doing something that I no longer desire the stillness of a day, because I’m afraid of boredom.
I’m currently reading a book named “The Chemistry of Calm” by Henry Emmons, where he focuses a lot on the psychological aspects of mental illnesses and the things we as humans can naturally do to increase our calm and relieve our anxiety (a highly recommended book if this is something you struggle in). There’s a place in the book where he speaks into aligning with nature, and how it is only normal for us to be busy and to not be busy. Emmons says, “There is a natural need for the body to cycle between activity and rest, movement and stillness.” And gosh, I think we’ve lost the purpose in the power of being still. I think we’ve forgotten how important it is for us not to have to do anything. I think we’ve put so much pressure on being busy that rest makes us feel guilty or inadequate or scared that we may think too much or just bored.
I rest on the bored side. I love the idea of a filled life, always doing things that excite me, or are purposeful. So, when I look back on how I was feeling when my power went out, I simply was afraid of being bored. I was afraid that I wouldn’t have anything to occupy and excite me. I was afraid that I’d have to find something more domesticated to take up my time before I got tired and went to bed. That I would be FORCED into water coloring or puzzle-ing instead of sticking my face to my screen. I’m so scared of being bored that I don’t let myself be still.
There doesn’t have to be a long and drawn out explanation in the purpose of this blog, but there is deep meaning in it: There is beauty in being still. It is not a weakness. It is not laziness. It is not boredom. You are not accomplishing less. You are not failing. We need stillness. We need to rest. Our bodies were meant for a selfish relaxation.
Now pause. You might have an ancestor who worked their butts off to feed their family. You might know a friend who works day and night to get their self-made business up and running and functioning. You might be a mom of six kiddos and don’t have the time to be still. You might be the kind of person who is afraid to not work because you think that’s where your worth comes from.
Yes, these are all true and purposeful and every one of our lives are going to look different depending on the cards we’ve been dealt.
But, we all have deep desires to be still. To take in life. To breath. To enjoy. To not over-work and burn ourselves out.
So, take this simple reminder and go where you need to with it. Read a book. Take a nice long bath. Add some wine in there. Go on a good walk. Get away from your job. Get away from your mind. Breath. Do some yoga. Choose a day where you don’t do much of anything. Maybe take an hour a day. Do a puzzle or water color. Write in a journal. Detach yourself from your social media or your binge on Netflix. Breath some more. Pray. Catch up on how you’re doing. Your life is not solely built on worth from everything you accomplish; it’s important to give yourself some rest. You don’t always have to be busy and you don’t always have to be excited to have an abundant life.
Take care of yourself, mind and body. Be intentional about how you’re living, and be mindful of how you’re pacing yourself. Work hard, but give yourself some grace. Remember there is beauty in being still.