the quiet spaces

If you wanted to know the state of my heart for the first half of August, just look at this space.

Quiet.

On a normal day, I long for quiet. For stillness and space to breathe. For the past two weeks, I’ve allowed that longing to take over.

The day starts and I so easily get wrapped up in my running mental list of to-dos. Then, all of a sudden it’s bedtime again and the time is gone. I’m tired of living that way, so I’ve been consciously trying to slow down. To create white space. To disconnect. To be realistic about what I can do. To let some of the things on the to-do list just be.

I love feeling productive. I attach incredible value to my day if I feel like I accomplished “a lot.” But most of the time, I end those days exhausted, empty, with no energy for other people, and unable to escape the mental list of must-dos that just seems to have grown since I crossed off the last item.

Wanting productivity is a dangerous slippery slope for me. During the course of starting on one project, I think of about 37 other things that I’d like to get done and decide it’s totally possible to achieve them all in a span of 8 hours. When it becomes obviously clear to me as I’m breaking my back to get through everything, that there is, in fact, not enough time to finish the list, stress ensues. I think, “If I can just cross everything off the list, I’ll feel better.” But, the list is still there and I can’t cross everything off. What started as an effort to boost my self-esteem by my accomplishments, ends with me feeling like I ran backwards and am even farther behind than where I started.

Far too often the things that take the backseat to my list are the ones I really need the most to survive. Time with friends when I can just be, time with Taylor when we’re not running in between work and meetings and errands, time to be still and take a deep breath, time to read, to write, to create, to listen.

The funny thing is that so often the most productive actions for my heart and soul look so unproductive to the world.

And so many days, I give in to what the world thinks. I waste my time doing made-up tasks that I deem important, and part of my soul dies a little bit because of it.

I’m tired of those days. I’m tired of giving too much value to being productive by the world’s standards. I’m tired of giving more energy to crossing menial items off lists than I do to my heart and soul, and the hearts and souls of those around me.

Just to be clear: I’m not talking about laziness. Hard work, when done with the right attitude, glorifies the Lord. What I’m talking about is our culture of always working, always connected, always running, always on. I can’t keep up with it anymore.

So, I give up.

I’m giving up the breakneck pace for something slower.

For a person who attaches self-value to what she does, that is easier said than done. To go slower forces me to lay down my desire for approval, and look for my value in the right place: from my Father, who has already accomplished every good thing. Nothing I do will make him love me more. Nothing I do will make him love me less.

At the end of my life, all the lists- what got crossed off and what didn’t- won’t matter. What will matter is my heart and soul, and how I used my time to affect the hearts and souls of people around me.

In that regard, my life is an outflow of the quiet spaces. The spaces where I allowed myself to slow down, to just be with my Father, and to be strengthened in the truth that I, right now, am enough.

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