I had a friend say to me recently that I needed to “embrace the lull.”
Now, if you don’t know me that well, I’m one of those people who absolutely tries to squeeze the most productivity out of every moment, every day. I’ll even schedule rest in my calendar. And put a duration to it.
Some people do this out of necessity, because if they don’t then they won’t actually do anything with their time.
I on the other hand simply do it because I always want to know what’s the most important thing to do next. Or right now. Or right now.
And throughout my life, I’ve always had the next important thing pretty well lined up. School. Sports. Relationships and events. Work.
But currently, it seems like the next thing isn’t so clear. I’m not really sure what I’m working toward, or what the most productive use of my time is.
My friend also added something else to the “embrace the lull” mantra. He said, “Like still water that responds appropriately to disruption – like a rock being tossed into a still pond – that’s how you’re invited to be right now.”
When a rock is thrown into a still pond, the effect of the ripples is seen and felt across the entire pond.
If you throw a rock into a raging river that’s constantly moving it’s neither seen nor felt at all.
If I look at my life that way, for most of it I’ve been that raging river, constantly moving, always going as fast as possible around the rocks in the way, and maybe even dodging the rocks lobbed towards me.
Sometimes that works out. It may even look really great to those on the outside looking in.
“Man, look at him. Always busy. Always doing cool stuff or helping people. He’s always around. Etc, etc, etc.”
But, what if that rock that’s thrown into the river is something really important? What if it’s the most important thing? The next thing?
What if it’s the voice of God? Or the nudging of my wife, or friend? Am I still enough to notice it? To respond appropriately to that disruption?
I’ve been doing this thing each year that has actually served to be pretty cool, and a great way to look at my life to see if I’m really living it well. I got it from Claire Diaz-Ortiz. It’s too good of an idea for me to take credit for.
Each year, I sit quietly for a while, in prayer and meditation, and ask God if He’d speak to me about what He and I both want my life to look like in the upcoming year; what kind of theme do we want to be the umbrella over all the things that happen.
Often, it’s very simple and short. Maybe only a word or a phrase. Last year it was “with.” That’s it. And all of 2014, when I would take the time enough to think about it, I would ask God and myself if “with” (meaning if I was doing things with people, with God, with my wife, etc. as opposed to on my own) was the theme I was following and lining up with.
It’s not a legalistic thing, like something I MUST do at all costs. It’s simply a way to live more intentionally and commit to something you believe is worthwhile and that God is saying to you.
This year, as I took time to be quiet and think and listen, I heard the word “Slow.”
Now, as I said earlier, I want to be busy. I want to be doing stuff and to know what’s going on and what’s happening next. I don’t have a fear of missing out, but I certainly have a very strong dislike of missing out.
And here is the umbrella theme and mission of my life for 2015 – Slow.
Honestly, great. I need it. I really feel in my gut that this “embrace the lull” mantra and the “slow” theme of this year that I’ve heard both from my friend and from God, are right. It’s what I want. It’s what I’m looking for. To just slow down for a second.
I’m actually pretty tired of being a raging river, and being a still pond that responds approriately to disruption sounds really nice.
So what about you? Have you taken time to think about what you or God may desire your life to look like in 2015? If you’ve never tried it out, I encourage you to give it a shot. You may hear something difficult, or awesome, and it may just change your life.
That’s what I’m hoping for.