Lately, things have been pretty loud, huh?
And I don't just mean in the media, the grocery store, or family group chats with hour by hour updates, I mean it's been pretty loud in my own head.
The modern world is facing something we haven't seen before, and while the world has seen epidemics and pandemics, these kinds of things haven't yet happened within the parameters of the 24/7 news cycle.
But what if I told you, you can turn down the volume? Maybe even press the mute button for a little while?
We weren't created for this.
We are human, but we don't wage war as humans do. We use God's mighty weapons, not worldly, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning, and to destroy false arguments. - 2 Corinthians 10: 3-5
Right now you may have two thoughts. One being, "Really Alyssa, an analogy of war in times like these?" or the other being, "I don't need a sermon right now." To both I answer, just hang with me for a second.
God is good, and peaceful, and just, and right, and sovereign, and He is so much more than the adjectives listed above which is why He's not the one in question right now.
There's an age old battle, that was waged long before any of us were even a thought, and long before this pandemic, and will be still be fought long after this is over.
Want to know what the war is for?
It's for your attention, and your body, and mind, heart and soul. Because ultimately, what you think about is who you are.
Where has your attention been this past week? Has it been glued to the news? Has it been glued to your social media channels? Has it been focused on the politics of this all?
Where has your body been? In sweat pants all day? Have you left the couch? Have you gotten fresh air? Have you drank water?
And finally your heart? Where has your heart been? I'll let you fill in that blank.
There's a better way to get through this, and a better way to get through whatever else life throws your way after this is all said and done.
So take captive your thoughts! Take them back and own what you're thinking about.
Whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praise worthy, think about such things - Philippians 4:8
How does this change the narrative?
Your attention- is it on truth?
Is God who He says He is right now? Yahweh the compassionate and gracious God who is slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love for the thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin?
Is that what we are thinking about?
Our bodies. Are our eyes seeking goodness, are our hands helping others, are our mouths speaking true, noble, and just words?
And your heart? Well...
Above all else, guard your heart for everything you do flows through it.-
This. This is what I'm clinging too like a buoy in the middle of the sea.
This is not to say we stick our heads in the sand. We don't ignore trials and tribulations, and we don't pretend that reality isn't what it is.
Instead, this shapes our thoughts to help create a more quiet reality, one with peace for ourselves and compassion for others.
It helps turn down the volume when things get too loud.
Thoughts are our volume knob, and truth is the mute button.
So take captive your thoughts because life is what you think it is.
As some of you may remember, last year at about this time I wrote a blog post titled "Growth," and it kind of started a mini series about goal setting. My word for 2019 was growth. I wrote two pieces on how I planned to grow in my marriage, my commitment to the gym, my bank account, and the list goes on and on.
In total, I had set twenty goals for 2019.
By the time I had written them all out, I was already tired and disappointed.
Holidays are hard for me, they always have been, and maybe you're like that. Something about the chaos of expectations always sends my anxiety through the roof. So during this time last year, I was talking with a good friend about my anxiety for the holidays, and also all the goals I had for 2019. I began to list all the goals I had, and she gave me the affirmation that they were good goals, and that I would have a good year.
But I still wasn't satisfied, and after we finished talking I sat back in my chair and sighed.
The more I talked about growth and all that I could accomplish this year, the more I felt the Holy Spirit pushing back, rather whispering the word "meekness," to me over and over again.
Meek, synonymous with small, unimportant, quiet.
I started January 2019 with a growth mindset. I got a new job title, we bought the house, we flipped that house, and I was more burnt out than I ever had been. My skin broke out due to lack of sleep water, and plenty of stress. I had bags under my eyes so big you could haul grocery bags in them. Luke and I fought almost every day. It was by far the ugliest I had ever felt. Inside and out.
When the house project wrapped up in May and the dust and moving boxes had settled, I looked at my calendar for the first time in a long time, and I no longer had a running to do list.
The reality of it was that my burnout didn't happen over the three months from January-May. It was going on when I decided to take on 42 college credits in one year. It was going on when I was simultaneously trying to plan a wedding over our six month engagement. It was going on when I was fighting a daily battle with anxiety and depression during my freshman year of college. And even still it was going on for the 4 years before that when I was doing all the activities under the sun during my high school years.
8 years. It had been going on for 8 years.
And for the first time in 2920 days, I had no more goals to reach. I was married, with a job, a house, and a dog. What more was there to do?
So without my permission, God brought me to my season of meekness, where instead of trying to shout over the noise of my own to do list, He finally had the space to whisper it.
And it changed my life.
I didn't blog 2 times a week, or read 24 books this year like my New Year's resolutions said I should. I didn't go to the gym 3 times a week. I didn't journal daily, or stay on track with a bible plan. In fact, I didn't do a single thing from my 2019 Growth Mindset Goals.
But without setting any goals, here's where my meekness season got me.
I learned to love hours of alone time, especially in the silence. I switched my evening glass of wine for a mug of hot tea. I ran because I wanted to, not because there was a goal to run 13.1. I read 9 REALLY good books, and chewed on them for a long time. I took walks with my dog. A lot of them. I drank my coffee slowly in the mornings. I posted pictures online because I wanted to, instead of trying to keep up with the Jones'. And my biggest accomplishment, I was FINALLY able to delete social media from my phone.
And I'm actually writing this blog because I feel like I have something to say, not because I feel like I should be saying something.
Have I perfected this "meekness" goal? No. Not even close. I'm still loud and impatient most days. But the bad days I had post growth mindset, are still better than the really bad days I had when I was trying to do it all.
This year, my head was clear enough to finally decide what mattered most to me, and I wouldn't trade that clarity for anything.
So for 2020, I'm not setting any goals. I don't need to because the One who doesn't need permission from me to fulfill the plans he already has laid out, has handled things pretty well.
This isn't to say goals are bad. Goals are a really good thing, and if you can execute on them in a way that isn't damaging to your mental health, then by all means, write your list of 20 goals, and I'll be here cheering you on!
In the meantime, I'm going to keep reading only good books, drinking coffee slowly, and writing when I feel like it.
Maybe I'll write more about that later, or maybe not.
Happy New Year Everyone. :)
Yes. Newlyweds and the roommate, it definitely wasn’t the traditional choice, but at the time it was the best choice for Luke and me.
Quite simply put, we couldn’t afford to buy anything in Omaha, so one of my best friends was kind enough to let us rent out her basement while we figured out a plan. I was so anxious to get our own place, but knew that for us to get a house, we would need a miracle…
And also, some patience on my end.
I always swore I would never move back to my husband's hometown. Not because I didn't like it, but because Luke and I love a challenge so moving to a place with familiarity seemed too easy.
But a house listing came across my news feed the a few months ago that was just too good not to take a peek at. I let a local realtor know on Sunday and she said she’d take us on a tour on Monday. She let me know that the listing could be a great fit for us, but we would need to act fast because it was a foreclosure and that was going to sell fast.
Low and behold, I found myself falling in love with the tiny house off of main street. It needed some love and care and lots of updating, but size and space wise it was perfect for a newlyweds couple and their pup.
I showed it to Luke and he agreed that for the right price, it just might be worth it.
We put an offer in the next day, and wrote an agreement that the bank would let us know within 24 hours. Well, anyone who knows a bank knows they don’t really care what you say, and they said they’d get back to us in three days.
And as we were signing our purchase agreement, our relator let us know that another party was interested.
I was crushed. I had gotten my hopes up way too fast and had picked out color schemes and layouts and furniture. I just knew that if a competing offer came in, Luke and I didn’t have the money to get in a bidding war.
We prayed that if this wasn’t the house for us, God would shut it down. In my heart I said goodbye to my tiny house, but when I did, a tiny voice said, "Have faith."
We had a very long wait until Friday, and unfortunately for me, I was in meetings the morning that I knew that bank would be calling us back, but as soon as I could get to my phone, I gave Luke a call.
The first words out of his mouth were “The bank countered our offer and they want more money.”
Unphased by the bad news I was expecting, I asked how much. They wanted just under asking price. We had already agreed our max offer would be asking price, so I told him we should take it.
To my surprise, he said "Good. Because I accepted their offer already."
My jaw dropped to the pavement on N Street in Lincoln.
"How? What??? No? What??" was all I could manage to stutter.
I couldn’t wrap my brain around the fact that we looked at a house on Monday, put an offer in Tuesday, were countered on Wednesday and by Friday it was ours, but it was!
So, by incredible faith and a lot of work on God’s end, we found our first house. It’s funny because every time I think I have a better plan, He shows up. It’s been a lot of work over the past couple months, and maybe I’ll talk about that later, and it’s hard to remember to always be grateful, but really that’s all we should be.
I don't know what would have happened if I had ignored the tiny voice. We probably would have made it out okay. We are never punished for making our own choices, but the fact of the matter is that there was purpose for this season of waiting after getting married. That there is a plan, and that plan is not yet complete, though we may be on the right track.
There are no such things as coincidences in this life. It's all just one master plan, from one Master Being who is constantly and consistently fighting our battles for us. We just need to hold on a little bit longer.
Don’t get me wrong, there is no right or wrong way to pray. If super formal communication is how you feel connected, then by all means, keep doing you. My point is that no matter how you do pray, it’s incredibly important that you do.
While God does not keep score, I tend to do so.
This past year, I started a “prayers” note on my iPhone. Whenever I feel like a threw a Hail Mary up to the literal heavens, I write it down in my notes to see where it landed, and folks, it has been life changing.
I would write things down and completely forget about them, and most of the time, I would forget that I even had the notes on my phone. What usually ends up happening is I’m going through my notes looking for my most current grocery list and BOOM all my prayers are written down.
And I’m not kidding you, each time I recheck the note, another prayer has been answered. Somethings are small, like one-time God helped me pull of a surprise for a friend, but some of them are big like the fact that I’m living in a house right now.
There is no better way to reassure your own faith then to be behind the scenes as God moves mountains.
But the even funnier thing, is that sometimes prayers do not get answered in the way you would expect.
For example, I really love singing. I had a blast getting to lead worship back when I was in college, but the church we go to now is currently just too big. So, I’d never given singing another thought.
Then a couple of weeks ago, Luke’s hometown church reached out and said they were looking for people to join the worship team they were going to start up. I immediately reached out and said I was interested.
As it turns out, the guy who was going to be leading the new team, was from my home town, went to my home town church, and helped start the campus ministry where I had fell in love with leading worship in the first place, and finally was leading worship in my husband’s middle-of-no-where-small-town-Iowa. What are the odds of that my friends.
And maybe this story doesn’t blow you away, maybe you think that something like that shouldn’t matter as much as it did to me. If that’s the case, come have coffee with me sometime and let me tell you the hundreds of stories I could tell about Hail Mary passes that became touchdowns (Did you like my sports pun? ;) ).
My mind was absolutely blown. The intricacy and attention to detail that God uses to tell the story of our lives will never not be amazing.
My point is, prayers matter. They matter because they show that you’re willing to trust. They show that you’re willing to listen, and they show that you know God’s going to show up.
I don’t believe in things like coincidences. I get this super weird feeling in my chest when what other people would consider “coincidences” happen to me. It’s not just by happenstance, it’s on purpose, and that purpose is for you and me.
So I don’t care how you pray. I don’t care if you write it down. I don’t care if you speak authentic Hebrew up to Heaven.
Pray for big things and for small things and everything in between and watch the Lord move mountains for you in ways you couldn’t write yourself.
Before anyone panics, yes we are all okay. This post is not a pity party, or a sympathy grab, and if it comes across that way, I'm definitely not meaning for it to, but there is a story I want to tell.
I've known Luke for about 3 years now, and ever since I've known him, I've come to learn that the kid has got a very sensitive stomach. I will spare you the details.
At the beginning of our relationship, we all began suspecting that something was up with his stomach. He constantly felt sick and bloated, he couldn't gain weight, and he was tired ALL the time. So he decided to consult his family physician. Who then got him an appointment with a gastrointestinologist (GI) who decided to do some scope work to determine if Luke had Crohn's Disease.
After a series of tests and scopes, the results came back mostly inconclusive. His blood work was consistent with someone who had Crohn's, but the biopsies came back negative.
Flash forward to this October, nearly 2 years later and we are married instead of dating. His stomach issues only continue to get worse. In fact, Luke was so sick during parts of our honeymoon, he had me memorize the address to our condo so that way if I had to call 911 I could tell the ambulance where to go.
As his symptoms got worse, we decided it was probably time to go get checked again. So we head back to the family physician, and during our consultation his physician says "Well, you know you have Crohn's Disease right?" We were shocked, because two years ago we were told everything was inconclusive, but right there in his file, that was his diagnosis. So they send us back to a GI specialist, but this time at a different hospital.
It's November by the time we are able to get into this new specialist, and she asks Luke sooo many questions about his symptoms and everything that has been going on for the past two years. Based off Luke's answers, they are able to rule out Crohn's' Disease (Thank The Lord) but do want to run some tests to double check everything.
We get a call in December that Luke's blood work is consistent with someone who has Celiac Disease, an autoimmune disease that makes a person's body intolerant to gluten, and suggest that he goes back in for another scope.
It's January now, and Luke's scope was 2 weeks ago. Everything went according to plan until it didn't. The scope was successful, but at some point where they took the biopsies didn't heal quite right and he had minor internal bleeding, which landed us in the emergency room Sunday afternoon, and it was there that we did get to see his results confirming celiac disease. To put it in perspective, a normal person's antibodies for this disease register at 15, Luke's number was 250.
And I am not a marriage expert, not even close, but what I do know is that when Luke came to from being under anesthesia and the first words out of his mouth were "I love you so much," I knew there was no where else I would rather be, because in reality, I didn't cross my fingers when I said "in sickness and in health," and I know if it were me laying in that bed, he would have been right there by my side too.
The second thing, is that we are incredibly lucky with where we ended up. Celiac disease is nothing compared to the Crohn's Diagnosis I thought we were facing. Or the millions of other things that could have been wrong. We are incredibly lucky, and if this is the most stressful situation we face, I would consider our lives a miracle. Celiac is entirely treatable and manageable.
The third thing, is that, I am not a good cook, not even with spaghetti, so my kitchen has been turned upside down because we are officially a gluten free family. SO maybe you're celiac, maybe you're allergic to gluten, maybe you just don't eat gluten, OR maybe you just want to help the newly weds out. If you have ANY recipes that you love or can't live without that are gluten free, snack ideas, supper ideas, anything, please send them our way.
Who knows, maybe this will become a gluten free foodie blog...
But it probably wont ;)
Anyways, for better or for worse, for rich or for poor, in sickness and in health, whatever the weather, I'm sure I'll have lots more stories where these come from.
A lot of people do New Year's Resolutions, and maybe you're one of them.
I set them too, and I'll have a blog about those later, but goals for me are hard. They set up parameters that determine if you pass or fail. You either complete them or you crash and burn in week two.
In fact, research is showing that by January 12th 80% of us will have already given up on what we set out to do.
That being said, I decided to add something new to the mix this year. I've spoken with several people, and seen several articles about choosing a word for 2019.
The word can be anything. Any word that you feel encapsulates what your goals would have been, or will be if you set them.
For example, a lot of people start the year with a resolution to go to the gym more. So they set goals like, get to the gym x amount of times a week, don't eat fast food, drink plenty of water, etc.
And those goals are great, there's nothing wrong with having a specific task in mind, but there is something I see wrong right off the bat.
All of those goals are pass fail, you either get to the gym or you don't. You either eat fast food or you don't. You either drink the right amount of water or you don't.
Where is there any room for grace????
Instead of setting yourself up for a test, set yourself up for some grace.
If your the person, like me, who had a long list of resolutions that seem daunting and overwhelming, take the pressure off yourself and just pick a theme. Say something like...
"In 2019 I want to be healthy."
"In 2019 I want to be strong."
Maybe you aren't trying to hit the gym, other things work too like...
"I want to be disciplined."
"I want to be focused."
Healthy, strong, happy, disciplined, focused, organized, kind, meek, creative, successful, all of these words set your tone for 2019, and give you space to do what you need to do to maintain that theme.
There's no check boxes, or to do's just an idea of a person you want to become and it's up to you how you chose to pursue it.
I think one of the most exciting things is reflecting on you think you can meet these ideas. Maybe instead of losing 10lbs you find a great group of friends at the gym, that's still healthy.
Or instead of meeting five new people every month, you find joy in spending time with yourself. That's still happy.
Really what we need is less "I have too's" and a lot more grace.
For me, 2019 is all about growth. Growing in my faith, my love for my hubby, my blog, a business and a career.
But ask me in December what God does with my word, and I'm sure it will be better than what I had planned.
What's your word for 2019?
I've wanted to write a blog about Christmas this whole month. In fact, I had four blogs I wanted to get out, but I was so stuck on this one, and I couldn't get past it.
December should be a season of advent, and hopeful expectations, and as a writer, I really wanted a post about the true meaning of Christmas.
But here's the thing Christmas is not my favorite holiday, not by a long shot. It probably doesn't even make my top 5 favorite holidays of the year, and to all my readers out there who are about to stop reading this post because "How dare she say such a thing," bare with me, I promise I'm not the grinch.
And the more I put my thoughts into words, the more I didn't like the way I sounded.
Cue Sunday Morning's Message.
"Do you want to see through the mess? Try some humility.
That's why you can't see the glory of God because you're too proud and too stubborn. You don't listen, and you won't look."
"Okay. that hurt." I thought to myself.
"Maybe you need to take directions without complaining for once, or maybe you need to look at someone else's needs before clamoring to have your own met."
"Okay, that really stings."
"If you want God to do something great in your life, it won't come through pride. It will come through humility. So ask God 'What do I need to get a humble perspective on."
At this point, I'm literally rolling my eyes.
"Because when you ask that question, you put God on his throne, and sitting in second place next to God is a good place to be."
And finally, I got it, the reason I couldn't write about Christmas.
The reason I didn't like how I sounded, was because I sounded awful. Christmas was all about me, me, me and my, my, my.
The original post, was all about how hard Christmas is because of everyone else, because of everyone's schedule, everyone's gifts, everyone in my way at the mall. When really, it was hard because I stood in my way.
Do you think Jesus had that in his mind as a baby?
Imagine this, baby Jesus in a manager, completely pleased with himself because He has come to Earth all for the purpose of creating a holiday all about Himself. In fact, He got a whole book all about himself. All the glory to Jesus forever and ever. Amen.
But that couldn't be further from the truth.
Jesus didn't come for Christmas, and even if He did, I don't think He'd be pleased with the current result, because I hope I'm not the only one out there who struggles with finding the true meaning of Christmas behind the false packaging.
Writing your own gift list, your own grocery list, preparing your own house. It's all about you.
So yes, God wants the glory of sending His one and only son, but He only wants it if we realize we He deserves it.
Because He could have saved us in a second, but instead He sent a child.
"He who is the Creator became a creature. He who is eternal allowed Himself to be bound by time. He who is clothed in majesty was born in an animal trough. He who had spoken whole words and galaxies into existence had to depend on baby cries to communicate."
That is the true meaning of Christmas.
So yes, bring out the Christmas trees, and the gifts. Get out your snowmen, and Christmas lights.
But if you're anything like me, unless you let God become greater in your life than yourself, there's absolutely no way to see the true beauty behind Christmas.
That God so loved humankind and this earth, He sent His son, His real and physical human child, to this earth, and the best part is, we didn't even have to ask Him to. He did it because He loves us, and He wants more for us than the messiness that is Christmas time.
So let Jesus have the seat at His throne this holiday season, and enjoy being in second place.
I keep seeing posts floating around Facebook about how everyone has their own timeline, walks their own path, and it’s just really been speaking to me to the point that I wanted to take my own crack at it.
If you would have told me that at 22 years old I would be married, graduated, living in Omaha, with a dog, and a hubby from Iowa I would have literally laughed in your face.
You see, if my plan would have worked out here’s where I would be most likely. Definitely not married. I would still be in school, and finishing up my last year as a education major student teaching. I would be planning to move back to Grand Island to teach, and probably would not currently owning my dog (which is think would be the saddest part).
Life never goes as it’s planned. As the Thomas Rhett song goes “You’re making plans and you hear God laughin.”
I don’t think I’ve ever heard a line more true.
I can bet that when I'm 30, and I tell people what I thought I would be doing by age 30, I will be completely wrong again. So let me say it loud for the people in the back...
IT’S OKAY NOT TO HAVE IT ALL FIGURED OUT.
I think that your whole life is the perfect opportunity to discover new things that we are good at and new things that we love. We don’t have to know what we want to do when we are 18, or 28, or even 38, because I guarantee that what we have planned in the first place, probably won't happen exactly the way we want.
So at 22, yes I do have a job, BUT I’m also trying to get into podcasting, I’m freelancing a social media account, and possibly being a videographer for a wedding because who knows I may just fall in love with it.
Life gets boring when you think you know what you want and who you are. If you don’t give life the opportunity to challenge and change you then nothing will ever change. Do you know why?
Nothing changes, if nothing changes.
I think that pretending to have this whole thing figured out all the time, means you give up so much of your potential to something because your scared, and trust me I’m in the same boat with you.
I get scared every time I click publish on one of these blogs. I’m scared the podcast I want to do will totally flop. I’m terrified the campaign I’m running won’t be good enough, and that I’ve never run a professional camera in my life.
But I’m trying anyways, because at 22, I still have no idea where I want to end up.
We all get hung up on two very different ideas.
The first idea is that it’s too late. That we’ve wasted too much time doing something else, so to change it now would be pointless. Vera Wang wasn’t world renowned until she was 40. Julia Child started at 51. Steve Jobs was 30. To say it’s too late basically is just an excuse to give up.
And again, I am with you in this club.
The other excuse is that you have time to do it later! I’m sorry but if you are saying both of these things to yourself then you are a walking contradiction. Yes there is always more time, but if it’s something you love why wait? Well actually, I know why. It’s scary. It’s hard to come up with something new and exciting. It’s hard to believe in yourself, but it’s always worth it.
If you have something to say, then say it and get people to listen to you.
So no matter where you are in life, know that knowing exactly what you want to do is okay and all the power to you. Go out there and achieve the goals you have for yourself, but my advice to that person is to let go of some control when they don’t work out exactly as planned.
And to the person who has no idea what they want to do next, that’s okay too. Just believe in yourself and that everything will work out okay.
Let’s just all pretend we are feeling 22.
Tell me what you've been too afraid to try?
My go-to saying is "fake it till you make it."
The thing about faking it, is that we are SO good at doing it, we don't even realize that we do it anymore.
I hate to beat a dead horse with a stick, BUT this is something that's really been weighing on my mind lately. I log on to instagram every day to see some blogger or influencer talking about how "real" and "vulnerable they want to appear to their followers.
As they explain that "realness," their hair is just the right amount of messy, their makeup is just the right amount of smudged, the background of whatever photo they are taking is spotless, pristine, and white. Then they drone on and on about how they want to be real and how quirky they are behind the scenes.
And that's great if you like that kind of stuff! I love and fully support whatever face you want to show the world. That's totally your call.
But can we all just stop pretending that it's real.
If we were honest with ourselves, we all know that whatever that post was took at least 20 different shots and 15 different angles. After that, it probably went through a round of edits, and then a caption was written and re-written just to make sure the words sound okay, and are deep enough to make a statement, but shallow enough not to rock the boat.
Because being real, doesn't attract thousands of followers. Heck, being real barely attracts my own husband sometimes.
Jesus could only attract 12.
Real isnt pretty 90% of the time. The real you is the face that stares back at you the moment you roll out of bed. Morning breath, messy hair and all its glory. It's the time you have a to do list a mile long, but all that gets done is a tearful cry to your mom because you feel so overwhelmed. It's the screaming match you just had with your significant other because you're human and your feelings got hurt for the 100th time.
But what do us outsiders get to see?
A post with your perfect morning messy bun and coffee cup in hand, or a super organized photo of your laptop to do list and table all aesthetically laid out, or, my favorite, a photo of you and your S.O. from just 2 months before when everything was okay.
Truth is, I pretty much burnt the whole pan because I didn't have the correct size, but I was so moody that night for no other reason than wanting to be moody, and all I wanted was a pan of brownies. So did I share this ugly photo of the pan on my social media? Absolutely not? It's ugly, and unimpressive, but did I make sure to take an aesthetically pleasing one so I could "fake it" for this blog. Absolutely.
I'm not saying social media will ever change, and I don't think we will either. That's not what I'm asking. Sometimes life is beautiful and I think it's important we share beautiful things.
But I think it's even more important that we realize that we only ever see 10% of the real story.
Ask your friends how they are really doing, and don't forget to ask yourself that same question, because a 4x4 square will never tell the whole story.
A picture is worth 1000 words, but a person could tell you a million.
So the next time you think a person has "arrived," or "peaked," remember that each of us can only ever be human, and thank goodness because that's all we were ever created for.
But the Lord said, "Do not look on appearance... for the Lord sees not as we see. We look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7
Your bad breath? He wants it.
Your weakest moments? He wants them.
Your biggest regret? He will take that too.
And we should look for that too. Look for each other when life isn't always beautiful or even shareworthy. It's easy to "fake it till ya make it," but finding true beauty in the real is much more worthwhile.
On a day to day average, I would say I spend probably 6 hours of the day staring at a screen. Whether it be my laptop, because duh web design is all online, or on my phone because social media is highly involved in what I do. Then of course, at the end of the day I’m checking my own social media, catching up on news, or watching Netflix. My eyes usually need a break.
And of course, while I’m consuming all this media, a girl has to have some background noise. Currently I’m loving my podcasts, If I’m not feeling podcasts, it’s whatever music I’m feeling that week. If I’m not listening to music, I’m usually taking a call from a client about their site or hopping on a video conference with my team.
Over-stimulated yet? Because I know I am.
Which leads me to my point, that sometimes, you’ve got to shut it all down.
Because of what I do all day, I try to make it a point to get some quiet time in. I try to read for an hour in the morning, but usually I take my dog out for a walk around the neighborhood with one rule.
No headphones, and cell phone must be on silent.
At the beginning, it killed me not to listen to anything while I walked. I didn’t like the quiet, but the longer I continue to work with media, the more I realize how much I need it.
We weren’t designed to be the multitaskers that we are. Yes, we can multitask, but that doesn’t mean we were supposed to.
I was listening to a Podcast from “The Real Life: with Jeff and Alyssa Bethke” and it talks about this obsession we have as a current culture with being efficient and productive. Jeff goes on to talk about how humans were not made to be this productive. Machines are productive. If you want get something done faster and more productive, you buy a product. Humans are messy, we make mistakes, and we are never going to be as efficient as the machines that we’ve created to help us become these mega multitaskers.
But still we try.
There’s a line in a Taylor Swift song that goes “I’ve never heard silence quite this loud,” meaning that we never know how much silence as to say, until we sit in it.
Silence seems to scare us because when it’s quiet we have to actually hear our own thoughts and emotions, and we might not like what we hear. We chose noise so that we can check ourselves out. That’s why we use our phones at the end of the day to see how everyone else is, rather than checking in on what's going on in the inside. It’s why we put music on in the background. No silence equals no self-realization.
So the point of these walks, is not to get caught up on another podcast or album. It’s not to see what all my friends are up to on social media. It’s not even for the purpose of getting a daily work out in.
It’s time for some silence.
I’ve started to realize that while media consumption does provide inspiration, it also just leads to system overload (see my last blog “The Grass is Never Greener” for more on that.)
We spend so much time absorbing all this extra noise that we never actually have any time to process it or do anything with it. It just clogs up space.
So by taking 20 or 30 minutes of my day to not consume any extra media than I already do, I give myself permission and the space to download.
This space gives me room to figure out what my next blog should be about. It give me time to reflect on how my prayers have been answered. It shows me areas in my life that need progress. The quiet, creates space that actually matters.
“The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent. Exodus 14:14”
Being silent doesn’t mean being passive. It means reflection and self care. It means taking time for your brain to reset and refocus. The Lord will still be at work, if only you have the space for him to do so.
So the next time you find yourself in awkward silence, don’t let it be awkward.
Open a book, take a walk, and create some space.
What ways can you create some silence?
To express, explain, and exclaim the lessons life continually throws at me, and my take on how to deal.