faith · motherhood

Being Still and Knowing Myself

Today has been the longest day. In the best possible way. Apparently, you can buy yourself time. If you get on a plane and head west, the clock turns back and suddenly there are two extra hours in your schedule.

Trips work that way. Especially trips without kids. And since my internal alarm is still set for Georgia time, I was up and wide awake at seven before I’d even had my in-room Starbucks brew. I’ve had a whole day. A whole day with no obligations or deadlines or temper tantrums or requests. It’s a decadent luxury, and I know that.

But it’s a luxury of solitude I desperately needed.

I’ve always believed I am an extrovert, a people person, talking to strangers or friends or anyone has never been a problem. I make connections. I build bridges and find common ground. I hate social silence because it feels uncomfortable and unnecessary. If I’m with people, then I’m going to communicate with people.

Yesterday, I rode an airport shuttle, a Delta flight, and a downtown shuttle in close quarters with dozens of people. I said nothing. I deliberately kept my silence and let there be quiet and didn’t even attempt conversation in situations where others might have sensed opportunity.

My capacity for people is full.

It sounds terrible to say that doesn’t it? I don’t mean I don’t feel compassion or mercy or the desire to welcome new people into my life, but I’m in a place right now where I’m recognizing that I’ve been spreading myself way too thin too much of the time.

I’m not the extrovert I’ve always thought. Most of the time, being with lots of people stresses me rather than relaxes me. For years, I have let my people pleasing side trump my quiet side. I have said yes even when it’s not my best, I have attended functions because I fear missing out, I have done everything except embrace my true calling because I thought it was pretty important I help others be happy.

You know when it’s easiest to help others feel happiness? When you feel it yourself.

You know what makes you happy? Embracing who you are instead of who you think this world wants you to be.

I love meeting people. I love finding kindred souls and I’ve spent hours over coffee with amazing people talking motherhood and writing and theater and just life. But I’m best at this when I’ve also built time into my life to recharge, decompress, and just have some time to myself. I didn’t know this was true for a long time. I thought it was because I’d had a bad day that I needed a bubble bath and a good book. Or a long walk by myself. Or even just a trip to the grocery store that didn’t require the dreadful car buggy and a cookie.

I didn’t realize the bad days could be fewer if I took care of myself as well as I try to take care of my kids.

Blessedly, I have a husband who got that about me long before I got it about myself. He didn’t ask me to come with him just because he wanted some time away. He asked me to come because he knew that while he was in eight hour meetings, I would be here. At an outdoor cafe, writing. He knew I’d have large chunks of time alone. He knew I needed this.

“Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live.”
Isaiah 55:2-3

I want my soul to live. And in order to do that, sometimes I have to let my soul find quiet and rest.

And solitude.

You know what else I read today over lunch by myself? Ann Voskamp’s beautiful words on how we can indeed be still because the loud internet is not the boss of me.

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