“I’m feeling God pulling me toward declaring 2017 a year of quiet, of being still and listening closely to find my way back to the person He created me to be. Of doing what Shauna says and ‘owning my life, for better and for worse, saying out loud: This is who I am, this is who I’m not, this is what I want, this is what I’m leaving behind’.”
These words made their way into my journal on our second full day at the cabin. God was answering my prayer to unwind the spring inside of me. Did He ever show up! I wonder what would’ve happened if we hadn’t scheduled the time for rest and stillness. What if I never sat on that couch, snuggled under a plush afghan before the fireplace with my mug full of French Roast? Would I have missed all of this?
I’m not sure. But I’m glad we said “yes” to a few slow days, put them on the calendar, and made it happen.
One thing I’m definitely seeing since we’ve come home and re-engaged with life is that rest and quiet don’t just happen. It can feel really awkward and strange to downshift into a slower pace. It feels uncomfortable to say “no” to things when I used to say “yes.” Uncomfortable, like being the new girl at the middle school uncomfortable.
As I was devouring “Present Over Perfect,” Phil was out walking the property, taking in the way the trees swayed in the wind, listening for woodpeckers, observing the glint of the light on the little lake. We savor downtime differently, but the message we heard from the Lord was exactly the same. When he came back from his walk, he told me he’d heard this: “Be still and know that I am God. Be quiet, and know that you are not.”
I haven’t figured it all out yet, but I’m pretty sure that my pace of life says a lot about who I think is in control. If it’s me, then there’s no time to waste. Activity is paramount, because the proof of value is in production, right?
But, if God’s really the one in control – and I trust Him – then I can relax. The pace doesn’t matter so long as I’m observing the one He’s set. And, that gets to the second part of what I must be very clear about in order to cultivate a quiet life: my purpose.
Another thing I learned from Shauna is that “I get to tell the truth about what I love and who I am and what I dream about.” That truth-telling got squashed in a lot of ways when I was working for the “ministry.” Only *some* purposes were acceptable and, though no one said this to me, I internalized the idea that who I was created to be was somehow wrong.
Our enemy is crafty and mean that way. He twisted the very words of God into a dart that poisoned Eve and Adam, though they walked with God daily, in person in the garden. So, he’s very good at taking the messages we’re hearing and leveraging them to drive a wedge between our hearts and our Truest Hope. “Did God really say?” He whispers …
So, as I look to the months ahead in this year of living “quiet,” it feels revolutionary, but I believe I get to decide. I have the ability to choose how to live in keeping with how God designed me to be. And the desires of my heart were put there to guide me well, not spin me off course. Those who told me I couldn’t trust my heart – could only trust what they told me I was put here to do – were wrong. They wanted to make me into their image.
Sometimes it’s been really hard for me to even know who I was or what is important to me, because my heart felt so overgrown by others’ expectations and my own insecurities. As I began considering what it might look like for me to cultivate a quiet life, I pulled out a report from a personality analysis I did a year or so ago. There are all kinds out there, and if you’ve ever struggled to answer the question, “Who am I, really?” then perhaps starting with one of these will open the door to help you see more clearly who the God who loves you made you and intended for you to live.
StrengthsFinder 2.0 and Dani Johnson’s GEMS are two I’ve found particularly helpful. Cut and paste these links into your browser to learn more … or just Google!