I don’t know about you but I find that the crazier life gets around me, the quieter my voice tends to get. Not my speaking voice, although my family would probably prefer that, but rather the voice that I use to express whatever is in my heart and mind. For some that’s music. Others it is art. Some it’s a physical activity. For me it is writing. When life gets crazy, my thoughts jumble and the one thing that actually helps me process is also often the hardest thing for me to do – maybe because there just doesn’t seem to be time.
Anyway, lately I’ve been really quiet. I’ve been dealing with a lot of stuff and many of my thoughts have become all jumbled up and messy. A great big mess of intersecting ideas and thoughts that have turned my brain into a great big room filled with unending noise and mess. It’s hard to make sense of any one idea. It’s exhausting and has me craving escape and retreat, quiet and aloneness.
I’m honestly not quite sure what I would do if I was granted those things. I’ve become so used to functioning in what feels like a perpetual state of mental chaos lately that the idea of stepping into a place of quiet, peace and tranquility is almost frightening. I can hardly hear myself think these days and to suddenly have space to do nothing but hear myself? I’m not sure I would like some of what I would hear.
But I know that taking time every day to do just that, to enter into a place of serenity, peace, quiet and tranquility is essential for me to continue to function well in this life that is mine. Without it I flounder. Lately I have been floundering big time. I have no patience for anything or at least very little. I start my day dreading interactions to come and end it feeling anxious and frustrated. My ability to balance the daily chores and needs of my family has dwindled significantly as the thoughts in my head grow more jumbled.
I find myself craving silence and space. I long to sit down, without being plagued by the thoughts of all that needs doing, and just be with the thoughts that need to be dealt with. My heart is broken and grieving the loss of a dear dear loved one who I wasn’t ready or prepared to say goodbye to a couple of weeks ago. I’m wanting and needing to be alone with all the thoughts/feelings that come from that. I am trying hard to be a good homeschooling mom, whatever that looks like, but I need time to look over and think through things in order to be prepared for each day. I have a toddler I need to play with, to engage his little mind and body in activities that stimulate and interest him but I need time to bring ideas into being. I have friends that need attention and time. A husband that needs attention and time. A business I am trying to grow. But my brain and heart are such a jumbled mess of all these things that all I want to do is be alone.
And maybe that’s just it. Maybe, after all is said and done, the best way for me to take care of all that needs doing is to take a step back and away, by myself, for a time, and simply spend time alone. It seems almost counter-intuitive to me – that the best way to take care of my family and others is to actually retreat from them. But at the same time, it makes sense. Even Jesus took a step back from ministering to others from time to time. Those who have lived lives of service to others took time away to regroup and re-energize. There are many professions that build sabbaticals into their framework of expectations. Why then, if we allow it for others and have no problem seeing the need for it, is it so hard for moms to allow it for themselves? So hard for me?
I’m not a big “goals for the new year” kind of person but this year that is one of my goals. I want to go away for a weekend by myself, to a hotel somewhere (ideally with a spa! and maybe a giant soaker tub in my room), where I can spend some time taking care of me. Where I can wander nearby shops or go for a nature walk. Where I can enjoy good food, scenery and quiet time. Where I can read, write, plan and organize. I need this.
Sometimes it isn’t always possible to step away from life for a few days and retreat. So what then? I say this to myself more than anyone: a few days away won’t do diddly squat to help if I am not making a point of taking time every day just to be. So it’s time I start carving out thinking time for me. Processing time. Time to be alone with a notebook and a pen, my Bible and my thoughts. I try to snatch moments but often those end up being stolen moments as I retreat for two minutes to pee by myself or in the car as I run to the store for milk. Not exactly good for getting myself back into a good place mentally! So that will be my goal for the next month – to reestablish the habit of alone time.
The noises are loud and my voice is somewhat quiet. But I see hope. I hear the noises getting softer and my voice becoming stronger again. I see chaos becoming order. I see my ability to just be, to listen to what I need to hear, coming back into being. And I feel hope.