Being still - a note to the addicted 'doer'
I confess that I am a Martha.
I am addicted to the "DO" part of life.
Last week my coach asked me this.
"Kathryn, are you a perfectionist?"
I smile now because unbelievably I had to stop to think about this. Am I? Much to my chagrin I realise that yes, I am. I am a perfectionist. I like things organised. I like to get things done. I like the sense of achievement in being productive and in moving forward with things.
I absolutely hate feeling like I'm wasting time. I don't particularly like waiting for things, and when I make my mind up about a thing, I jump in and do it.
Simply put, I thrive when I'm doing.
Then this last week I had an encounter with a new coaching client that gifted me with my own surprising 'light bulb' moment. The door opened and in walked this beautiful, bright and bubbly, woman. The space around her almost tangibly buzzed with an energy larger than life. The problem with her bubbling energy was that it was charged with stress and anxiety. As she poured out the story of her current circumstances, I felt like I needed to strap myself in. I could tell that this was going to be a high speed story. She gave me insight into her many roles as a mother, a wife, an employee, an active church member, a daughter and a friend. Her story was a full one. One that raced flat out each week. One that was filled with ALL her doing as she juggled the many amazing hats she wears.
For me, the outsider looking in with curious observation, it was immediately plain to see where all this anxious energy was coming from. She needed to slow down and rearrange some of all her doing!!!!! (isn't it funny how it's sooooo much easier to observe these things in someone else than yourself?).
We spoke about her week, remembering that we all actually do get to choose what we pick up and what we lay down and that a lot of our 'busyness' is by our own choosing (even though it feels like we're sucked into needing to do it all - not to mention the fact that our significance gets tied up here too...). We broke her week down onto bite size pieces and laid all the pieces out on the table. We explored her values and priorities, and then started asking questions about where she would like to make simple adjustments to help slow things down. Her energy shifted as she took some pieces out and moved others around. She took a deep breath and smiled. Whew. There is always room to slow down!
Then she mentioned wanting to create space each morning to spend more time with God. I asked what she wanted this to look like, and out tumbled another list of to-do's. That's where my own light bulb flashed! I do the same. Suddenly I could see how I too had turned my 'being' time with God into another load of "doing" time! Her to-do list with God and mine looked very similar and went something like this:
- Thank God for His goodness and mercy - gratitude
- Ask Him for forgiveness
- Give Him praise for who He is
- Go down the list asking Him to meet all my needs and wants...
- ...and if there's time, ask Him if there's anything He'd like me to do for Him - maybe.
Now I'm not saying for one moment that these things are bad. We are taught how to pray these things through The Lords Prayer. Praying these things is good. But, more than this, God is after your heart and mine. He is after relationship. He is not after strategy, check boxes and lists. He longs to be with us. To sit with us. For us to receive His love and then to give it back to Him. And that's when I heard His whisper. "Come and sit with me. Set aside your list for a moment. Come and Be still with me."
Through the prompting of the Holy Spirit, together this beautiful lady and I walked through a guided visualisation moment that looked like this:
Eyes closed, we both imagined a quiet, peaceful space with Jesus. We noticed a gentle breeze and then Psalm 23:2 He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. We tuned our minds towards Him and noted how the air was thick with His presence and His love. We both drank it all in. It only took a few minutes. Soon my new friend had tears running down her cheeks and a radiant smile on her face and we both knew - He was calling us to lay down our lists and to BE with Him.
God longs for us to BE still with Him and to receive His love. So I encourage you too to pause for a moment, close your eyes, take a deep breath and spend a minute or two just being.
If you, like me, really struggle to create time and space to sit and "BE", then I encourage you to purposefully practice this for a minute or two each day. Take yourself to that quiet space just as we did that day. It may take a few tries to stay there for more than a short moment, but that's okay. Our God is a God of a thousand second chances, so you get to have as many attempts each day as you need. So, give it a go and share below so your friends can have a go too!