I was trying to remember when I first realized that my life was out of control. I remember feeling like I was going 90 miles an hour and a huge curve in the road was coming and I didn’t have time to slow down. You know when you turn the wheel and pray it is enough to keep you on the road, but not too much where you run into oncoming traffic in the other lane. It was the middle of 1996 when I was holding on around that curve and made it through and said to myself this has to stop. My twins were about 9 months old and my oldest daughter just turned 3. Alone time was a foreign concept to me since I didn’t even find myself alone in the bathroom anymore. I remember never needing alone time. It wasn’t my thing! I was on the go, working 60 or 70 hours a week, and feeling exhilarated all of the time. I guess three kids in two and a half years was a breaking point. As is usually true in my life, I am sure it was a God thing. I didn’t have enough sense to slow down on my own.
Discovering Quiet Time
My first time I discovered “quiet time” was one day when all three kids were in some form or another attached to my body and in three different tones, crying or fussing. My husband walked in and I systematically peeled each baby off of me and reattached them to him. Holding back my own tears I turned around and walked out the back door and went to the furthest tree in our backyard and sat down with my back towards my house. The tears flowed freely. I sat there and cried for a good 15 minutes. Once the moisture dried on my face I looked up and looked around and thought how pretty my backyard was. I leaned back against the trunk of the tree and started contemplating the chaos that was my life. I think I came up with one or two things I needed to do in order to get control back. When I went back in the house I was much calmer. As a matter of fact I was amazed how much better I felt.
This was the beginning of a ritual that is now as much a part of me as any other characteristic or habit I have. I began to seek out time to be by myself. Soon I began bringing paper or notebooks to plan or mind map. The first stage of my “quiet time” was all about regaining control in my life and to do that I needed a plan. This too evolved. I began reading the daily devotional book. This introduced my to the concept of journaling about thoughts and feelings; not just “to do” lists or setting goals. It was such a release for me and extremely helpful in my relationships with others. By writing my thoughts and feelings I could be more rational about what was real. I am willing to admit when I am being ridiculous or wrong as long as I figure it out first.
A Closer Relationship With God
Eventually, finding quiet time became the main way I work on my relationship with God. I needed time to talk to God and to listen to him, but the noise in my world was drowning out our conversation and connection. Today I write everything to God. If I can’t journal I will find a quiet, peaceful place to rest, pray or meditate. I feel more grounded. I am more patient and handle stress better. (For those who know me, I am only saying better.) I suggest quiet time and journaling to clients and friends all of the time. Many times I get the expected round of:
- “There is no way for me to carve out an hour for myself”.
- “I don’t like to journal or write.”
- “It just isn’t my thing.”
Essential to Mental Health
Well, I was thinking about it and prior to 1996 it wasn’t my thing either. I have been letting everyone off of the hook who says I don’t have time or It’s not my thing. But I realized that this quiet time is essential to my mental health. I need time to read something that will help me to continue growing. I need silence just to think and be creative. Writing for me directs my thoughts and focuses me on understanding how I feel and opening myself up to actions and alternatives. But mostly I feel more connected to the Lord. I feel the fruits of the Holy Spirit filling me. I am more open to the Lord’s leading than my own will. I feel like I can face whatever the day holds and see the blessings.
As I mentioned, these days having time on my own is essential. It doesn’t take discipline. I don’t have to write it on a “ to do” list. I seek it and savor it. If you are not finding some quiet time for yourself to recharge your batteries, personally develop and spend time with the Lord, I challenge you to do so. Invite Jesus to be with you. The difference will be palatable. Don’t feel guilty or selfish about this need. Everyone around you will also benefit. They will see your renewed energy and peace. And who knows, you may find out that your really enjoy being with yourself-just the way that God created you!