When I first started writing this post I started to entitle it, “In Praise of Slow,” but then I remembered that title was already taken. I remembered where I saw that title was from an extremely good TED talk by Carl Honore. You can see that TED talk over here and I highly recommend that you do. He discusses how the US and the rest of the world is joining “The Cult of Speed” and he invites all of us to slow down our lives.
I am finding this to be very true in my own life.
For a long time I found that in many ways I judged my own value and worth by how busy I was. It could be busy at home, busy at work, busy at school, or busy at church service. I wanted to be more and more and more busy to fill my time. I thought to be successful was to have every minute accounted for and figuring out how to fit more and more into that time. If only I didn’t need to sleep.
One day I came to a very jarring realization during my morning devotional. I am seeking ‘busy’ because if I slow down, I will have to listen. I will have to listen to God’s voice more closely and change. I didn’t want to face myself and I didn’t want to face what God had to say. I stayed busy so I wouldn’t have to ask myself the hard questions. So, I stayed busy.
Well, God has a way of getting his voice heard.
In the more recent months, I have been finding myself going in the opposite direction. Instead of seeking busy, I am seeking stillness.
I still do the same things that I used to do. I still keep the house the same. I still run our homeschool the same. I even train more at the gym more than I used to and my business is slowly growing. But, the difference is that I am not rushing from one the thing to the next. I still have my check lists and my goals but I consider my time and my effort a lot more closely. I don’t jump on opportunities to fill my time but I pray before I commit.
I should pause for a moment to explain the difference between “good stillness (or slowness)” and “bad stillness.” I believe it is because of the “bad stillness” that people, including me, find it hard to slow down. We think that slowing down means being lazy and non-productive. There is good reason for that but it doesn’t have to be true. You can, indeed, slow down and be just as productive and dare I say, more productive than before. That is the “good stillness” and slowness.
I confess my new found love of stillness has been challenged as we have recently moved to a new area. The activities are new and the people are new. Previously, I would instantly want to hit the ground running and fill my time with activities for my son and for myself. But, going into this move I heard God’s voice very clearly saying that this was an opportunity to learn more about stillness and slowness. I shouldn’t jump on opportunities because they are there but I should prayerfully consider how my time can be best used. It is hard because I find myself in lonely times, wanting a stronger social network, sometimes.
But, the benefit of a move and a new area is that I am working with a fresh slate. Instead of stepping back from obligations because I need more stillness I can be more careful in what I take on in the first place. I believe that I am in a much better place to take on more as the opportunities arrive. I can give a much better “YES” that is not tired, but is willing, able, and excited.
The fun thing is that in my search for stillness I have found some wonderful hobbies that truly help me slow down.
I have started swimming. Being in the pool is very calming to me. It is so quiet when I am under the water. The rhythm of the strokes is almost meditative. I still seek to improve my strokes and my endurance and I have goals for what I want to achieve. I just get to improve myself all the while receiving therapy for a ‘slower’ activity.
I am reading more and by its very nature reading forces you to slow down. I turn off the computer at a certain time each night and I either curl up on the couch or lie down on the bed to read for a while. It is wonderful. It is slow and my mind is full of interesting ideas.
And, finally, I color. I laugh as I write that but it is so true. As I was starting to learn about slowing down and the benefits of it I learned about the growing trend of adults who color. I printed off a few pages from Pinterest at first and loved it. I found that I found it very calming and that I think very clearly when I’m coloring. I can can listen to audio books more easily when coloring and I can pray more easily when coloring. Then I found about the book Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Coloring Book by Johanna Basford and just had to have it. This book is so lovely and I look forward to the stolen moments I can spend coloring in the pages.
Here is an example of one of my finished pages…
I am sure my life will become more busy as we establish a life in our new home. There are fun things to be done. There are things to learn and there are businesses to grow. But, this time I won’t be just filling up time. I will instead seek stillness as I utilize my time well.
How do you seek stillness in your life?