By Renee Bethel, Crosswalk.com
Life for most of us is anything but quiet and definitely not still. Most of us most of the time are running from one thing to the next. There's so much noise and activity that it can be hard to know what to do next. We continue day after day thinking that if we work faster, if we work harder, if we make better use of our time, then we will get caught up and then we will have time to rest. Unfortunately, that never happens.
The world in which we live is full of noise and life is running full speed ahead all around us. Just having a cell phone puts each of us on constant alert. The phone beckons us to check it regularly to see if anyone has called us or if anyone has sent us a text message or email. When we do have a short break in our day, we scroll through social media, checking to see what others have posted and who liked our post. If you think this doesn’t describe you, let me challenge you to write down one tally mark every time you check your phone within a one-hour time period. Remember to include the times you check the time on your phone. How many tally marks are on your paper? Eye opening, isn’t it?
Let’s look at a few practical ways we can put down the phone, quiet the noise, and rest so we can hear God:
1. Create a comfy, visually pleasing, outside sitting area.
Schedule time in this space doing something that is relaxing and nourishing to your soul, like reading, journaling, coloring, listening to peaceful, uplifting music, listening to the birds chirp, or admiring the flowers and trees God created.
2. Go for a walk and be fully present with your surroundings.
Think about what you are grateful for as you walk. Praise God out loud for those things. Your cell phone can tag along, but it should be silenced unless there’s an emergency.
3. Take a break from your cell phone for one hour.
Put your cell phone in another room and give yourself a break from the constant alerts that activate your stress hormones. Start with one hour and work on increasing the amount of time you take a break from your cell phone.
4. Lie down for 15-30 minutes.
Close your eyes and be quiet and still. There’s no music, no television, no cell phone near you - nothing to stimulate your brain or your body.
5. Have chair time with God.
This is an exercise in learning to be still and listen for what God wants to share with you. Find a quiet place free from distractions and set a timer for 15 minutes. Begin by quieting your body and your mind and asking God to speak to you. A great resource to walk you through learning how to be quiet and listen to what God wants to tell you is Chair Time by Dan Southerland.
All of life’s activities and constant notifications from our cell phones put our stress hormones into action - the fight or flight response. Our hearts beat faster, our breathing tightens up, and our muscles contract. When we give our mind and our body time to be quiet and still, we balance our sympathetic (fight or flight) and parasympathetic (rest and digestion) nervous systems. When that balance is restored, we naturally slow down our pace of life. Having downtime in our day can activate our parasympathetic nervous system which can help with:
- Relaxing and calming our minds and our bodies
- Reducing stress and anxiety
- Lifting our moods
- Strengthening our immune systems
- Healing and repairing
Downtime is a way for our minds and our bodies to have a break from all of the noise and activity in our world. It refreshes our minds and our bodies so that we can think, so that we can focus, so that we can step back from a situation and get perspective. It teaches us how to listen so we can hear God’s voice, so we can have direction, so we can know the next right step. It brings clarity of mind and peace and joy and refreshment and healing and restoration - so many benefits!
God modeled rest after six days of creating. For six days God was creating and breathing out. On the seventh day, God paused to breathe in. Exodus 31:17 tells us that on the seventh day God rested and was refreshed. God gave us a beautiful gift called REST. He knew we needed downtime and rest for our emotional, spiritual, and physical health.
If God stopped to breathe, shouldn’t we follow his example so we can be refreshed?
When we make space in our lives to be quiet, to be still, to think, and to reflect, we gain the ability to hear - hear what God has called us to do and how we are to do it. God tells us in Romans 12:2 to “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
We can’t hear God’s voice when we are pulling him behind us as we hurry from one thing to the next and only look back from time to time to see if he’s still hanging on as we charge ahead. We have to be intentional to have a quiet space to read our Bibles, pray, and listen for God’s direction.
When we fully understand the benefits of downtime for us personally, it will motivate us to put it on our schedules and make it a priority. God gave us the gift of rest so we can quiet the noise and hear Him. Every week we have to make space to be quiet, to be still, to think, to reflect, to hear.
What action will you take today to quiet the noise so you can rest and hear?
Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Mkovalevskaya
Renee Bethel, author of Finding Me: A Woman’s Guide to Learning More About Herself is a Christian identity coach and whole body wellness advocate. She helps Chistian women learn more about who God created them to be using a Needs and Values Discovery process and the Enneagram through the lens of the gospel.