Slow Down!

 

Too much to do today, being pushed and pulled in twenty different directions, distractions one right after the other, can’t seem to stay focused and might as well forget finishing just “1” thing on the long “to do” list, rushed and snappy and irritable, hundreds of sloppy mistakes, can’t see past the pile of important documents stacked on your desk, the throb of that tension headache, your jaws clinched tight, sharp pain between your shoulder blades, so exhausted you can’t think straight? Does this sound like your day every day, is this you? 

My days were like this for many years; always busy, going and doing important stuff, even for church and God, but never being satisfied with the end result because it wasn’t perfect or my whole heart wasn’t in it. I was angry, frustrated, bitter and resentful. My husband and kids were often getting the worst of me, not the best.  There were not enough hours in the day or enough of me to go around getting it all done. I felt like the little hamster in the wheel, spinning faster and faster yet never getting anywhere. Something had to change; I had lost my joy, no peace in my life at all. Fun? Pleasure? What was that? 

I awakened one morning half an hour before the alarm, don’t you just hate that! Anyway, since I could not go back to sleep because I was so frustrated for waking up so early, I got up and made my coffee. Plopping myself down on the sofa in the living room, I became aware of my breathing and heavy sighs, I felt my blood pressure elevated and the familiar pounding in my temples. I was getting mad at myself for feeling this way so early and no one else could I blame, but me. I picked up my mug of hot coffee, the warmth of the mug in my hands felt soothing, I pulled it up to my nose and smelt the richness, the aroma of my special blend. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and inhaled through my nose, held it and then exhaled through my mouth. I did it again, and again, I felt at peace. My head quit pounding and my blood pressure calmed. Peace, peace, wonderful peace….. I reached for my Bible on the coffee table opened it and it fell to Isaiah 40:31,

“But those who wait upon the Lord will find renewed strength. They will spread their wings and high on eagle’s wings will soar. They will run and not get tired; they will walk and not faint.”

Awwww! Just what I needed to do, nothing! Just WAIT! 

I prayed that morning that God would help me to wait. I prayed that I would not be so quick to jump in and volunteer to do stuff. I prayed that I would quit being such a perfectionist that “good enough” would be OK at times. I prayed that I would stop putting too much pressure upon myself to get all the “to do” list finished in a day. That if I did not finish it, it would be there tomorrow. I prayed that I would stop worrying that others would perceive me as lazy. I knew I was a hard worker and yet I hadn’t always been a smart worker.

Over the next few weeks, the Lord began to show me ways that I could delegate some tasks to others, that I could ask for help and accept someone lending a hand. I realized that I could accept their offer to help and even though the finished task wasn’t as good or done exactly the way I would have, that in itself is acceptable and OK. I started giving others a chance to do things around the church and work. I actually bit my lip to keep from speaking up and saying, “I will do it”! It really was fine that I was not involved in every activity and fundraiser and function at the church or kids school. I learned that I can say “no” sometimes and say “yes” at other times and get involved in what I felt was right for me and that I would have the time, clear mind and fresh ideas for the project. I began to differentiate that which is vital, what is urgent, what is important and what is less than on my “to do” list. I learned how to prioritize and regain control of myself, my life, and my time. I realized also that just because someone else has not planned or prepared for a certain situation, it does necessitate an emergency for me. I do not have to take care of it for them. I help when I want to help and when I feel my help is truly that, helping and not enabling. I can now choose, with no regrets, the things to be involved in that I am passionate about; giving my undivided attention, finding pleasure, fun and renewed strength along the journey and satisfaction with the end result. 

That particular early morning several years ago changed my life. I now arise earlier than the rest of the family and in the stillness of the quiet morning; I am restored to my safe, secret, stress-less place with Father God. In doing this, my day unfolds in such a peaceful manner. I envision my quiet time like tossing a stone in the water….. The ripples so elegantly and peacefully flowing out from the source.  This time I give myself in the morning, amazingly sets the tone, a gentle flowing of harmony and peace no matter what transpires for the remainder of the day. We all can use a de-stressor.  I challenge you to try this for 30 days, just see what happens. My “to do” list is still there, but I have been able to accomplish more and find joy in doing it because I start my day with a clear mind and fresh word from God. It involves little on my part, but the rewards are huge.

This is my morning routine; (you may tweak it however fits your personality), I  start with a warm cup of coffee, a nice comfortable reading chair(most often I sit on my back deck, basking in the middle of Nature with the sun rising over the hills while listening to the birds that I have attracted by feeding them and watching the squirrels scurrying around for breakfast), I read a couple devotionals from my favorite Authors, read a chapter in Proverbs(you know there is a chapter for each day of the month), then I read a couple chapters in Psalms, I continue on with a few other chapters in the Bible(I have a plan for reading the Bible through in a year), I write a paragraph or two in my Gratitude Journal(simply one or two things that I am most thankful for, my list is bigger and longer the more time I think about all the blessings in my life), that so often by this time, I am feeling so inspired and encouraged, I want to share it with someone, so I  post a positive message to my status on facebook or write what is on my heart for this blog. 

I am not promising that you won’t ever feel stressed or angered again, but what I do promise is that even when things are in an uproar all around you, you will be  at peace on the inside. You can refuse to get caught up in the madness and craziness around you; you can remain calm, centered, balanced and proceed to walk in love, because you have the mind of Christ.

 Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.” 

My own experience is all I have to share, it worked for me and I believe if you apply these steps or something similar catered for your lifestyle and personality, you may find some peace and comfort and rest and renewed strength.

 Slow Down, Stop Where You Are, Close Your Eyes, Take a Deep Breath, Now One More, Feel Your Heartbeat, Thank God You Are Alive For This Very Moment, Feel His Presence, Feel His Love, Now Walk On In Love and Peace!

 

Tonya Henshaw

August 31, 2012

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