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Daily Stretch Affirmation No. 1
We live in a world of non-stop motion. During the day, fingers are moving across keyboards creating and sending messages around the world. Cars, buses, trucks, and motorcycles are moving over the countless miles of concrete, asphalt, dirt, and stone that make the roads we travel. People are moving from one meeting to the next. At night, families and individuals are moving from one activity to the next - soccer practice, scouts, grocery shopping, dinner, homework, and the list goes on and on and on. We don't stop until we collapse in bed at the end of the day hoping to catch a few hours of sleep before we do it all over again the next day.
Wake up. Move. Move. Move. Move. Move. Collapse in bed.
We struggle to be still.
This is not good!
Statistics show that anxiety and anxiety disorders are on the rise. For example, a recent Stastista survey finds that 39% of adults surveyed are more anxious in 2018 than in 2017. Obviously, there could be a number of reasons for these findings, but I would argue that our culture of busyness and constant motion contributes to the anxiety we feel.
If there's any question that these results are short-sighted, I'd encourage you to think about your own experience. How do you spend your days? How often to you stop? How much time are you moving around (physically or mentally)?
I've written about it here before. I struggle with this. I typically get up at 4AM every day. I turn off the light around 10PM every night. And I'm in constant motion between 4AM and 10PM.
It's not healthy to live this way.
It's not the way we were meant to live.
There's a better, more healthy way.
Taking time to still yourself has three benefits that are sure to make your life better.
1. Being still gives you the opportunity for rest, restoration, and relaxation. We need these things. I've heard people say they can rest and relax when they die. This may (or may not) be true. I would argue that we need rest and relaxation so we can be more effective and productive now. "It's better to be busy than bored" isn't completely true. We need times of stillness to be the best we can be.
2. Being still gives you the opportunity to deepen your relationships with others. In our busyness, we typically spend little time going deep with the people in our pathways. We ask people how they are doing, and we become satisfied with their "Good" answer. We're okay with this answer, because we're trying to get to the next thing or our brains are occupied with other thoughts.
3. Being still gives you a proper perspective on God. “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth (Psalm 46:10)." When we are in constant motion, we leave little opportunity to connect with God, to contemplate God's impact on our lives, and to develop an appropriate understanding of God.
Jon, I get it. I understand that constant motion and busyness are not the best for me, for my relationships, and for my faith. But I can't help it. The world is moving, and I have to keep up with it. My job requires constant motion, and my family requires constant and complete attention. What to I do to create time for stillness in my life?
I'm glad you asked! Here are three ways you can be still today.
1. Say "No" to something on your calendar. Bob Goff quits something every Thursday. If you are struggling to find time to be still, it might be time for you to quit one of the things on your activity list. If you want to intentionally make time to be still, you have to intentionally prioritize your calendar to make it work.
2. Start your day with time to be still. We all have morning routines. We wake up and do things to get ready for our day. Try adding five or ten minutes of stillness at the beginning of your day (you can always increase this time later). Put away distractions (like your phone or tablet), and simply be still. When you start your day with stillness, the rest of your day will be transformed.
3. Practice hourly, daily, and weekly sabbaths. I've written about this before. Take a minute of Sabbath every hour (set a reminder alarm on your phone or watch). Take an hour of Sabbath every day. Take a day of Sabbath every week. The concept of Sabbath was created for you an me. Sabbaths give us the opportunity to be still - to get away from the crippling busyness of our lives. Sabbaths help you re-calibrate, and they will change your life forever.
I take time to Still myself.
You can do it!
“The focus of Lesson 1 is Newton’s first law of motion – sometimes referred to as the law of inertia. Newton’s first law of motion is often stated as: An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.”
Even when you lie down to sleep your brain keeps going.
We’ve conditioned ourselves to go, go, go, and the more I experience life it seems like inertia might just be our enemy sometimes.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a person of action. I want to be busy getting things done – things that matter.
Here’s the problem: We are also directed to “be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)
The discipline of stillness takes intentionality. It takes purpose. It takes an all out resistance to our natural tendency to move.
According to Newton’s 1st Law of Motion, we actually need an unbalanced force to stop us or to change our direction.
I’ve experienced these kinds of unbalanced forces before. Like the time my wife was hospitalized leaving me with two young kids to care for while running around between home, the hospital, and work. Or like the time when I received a call from my Dad telling me my Mom had been diagnosed with “Early Onset Alzheimer’s Progression.”
Sometimes these unbalanced forces can seem catastrophic at the time. When we step back, these might actually be the things we need to re-calibrate us – to cause us to stop, to think, to be still.
Recently, I have felt inertia taking over in my life. Some of it is fantastic. But some things in my life require that unbalanced force to force me into a better pattern or position.
I’m not waiting for something catastrophic; I want to take the right next to step starting now. I want to slow down and even stop to take in life, to connect with my Creator, and to make sure I’m on the right path.