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Why is it so hard to be still? Like, truly still? You may be in your comfy chair, relaxed and not moving, but your mind is going a mile a minute. What does it take to quiet your mind?
Several years ago my small group did a marriage study by Mark Gungor. During one of the sessions, he mentioned a “Nothing Box.” The funny part of it was that, typically, men have a nothing box. We women may ask them what they are thinking about and their response is “Nothing.” Then the woman looks at the man like he’s crazy. How can you be thinking about nothing?? Typically, women’s minds are going a mile a minute, all the time. We can’t quite understand the concept of a “Nothing Box.” This is just a general example. I know men whose minds run a mile a minute and a few women who have a nothing box. The concept of a “Nothing Box” intrigues me. While it was meant to be funny and help explain the difference between a man’s brain and a woman’s brain, it caused me to pause. My brain goes a mile a minute and it is very difficult for me to be still and quiet my mind. So, I asked myself, “Why can’t I have a ‘Nothing Box?’ What if… what if I had a nothing box?”
A Nothing Box would be beneficial when I actually do take time in my comfy chair to quiet my body. How mind-boggling it would be if I could also quiet my mind. Even now, as I’m writing, my mind is wondering about graduation decorations, finishing my sunroom, work phone calls, family vacation, my kids summer work schedules, the hours of the UPS Store so I can drop off a return to Amazon. See, not so easy. Why not? Why is it not easy??
Somewhere along the way, I’ve trained myself to think that I need to be doing something or thinking about something all the time. Maybe it has to do with working, being a mom of three busy kids, ministry, friends and family gatherings.I never thought of myself as needing to “Keep up with the Joneses.” Yet, it sure felt like I was trying to keep up with my own premonition of what I should and shouldn’t be doing? In the meantime, I’ve overwhelmed myself with “stuff” that I have a hard time quieting my mind.
About fourteen years ago, I experienced this at a new level. “Smart Phones” were around but not as “smart” as they are now. It was a form of instant communication with people. My phone wasn’t very far from me at any given time. As a parent, I rarely spent an extended amount of time away from our kids. I would be gone for a few hours or sometimes overnight. Occasionally, I’d be gone for 2 nights. But that didn’t happen very often. Whatever the reason, I rarely experienced an extended amount of quality alone time. When I had the opportunity to leave my kids at home with trusted grandparents for five days, I was a little leary and elated at the same time. What if something happens? What if they need me? I’m going to be three hours away. My lead foot is not that heavy to cut off enough driving time to get me there soon enough. Oh, but the thought of not hearing Mommy every two seconds, stepping on box cars, cleaning up messes and playing referee 24/7 sounded like heaven at that moment! I kissed them good-bye, told them I love them and off I went. I was going to be gone for five days. It wasn’t until the morning of the third day I realized I didn’t need my phone all the time and was actually relaxed enough to experience what having a “Nothing Box” was like. I didn’t realize what bliss I was missing! I had found a swing, in the middle of the woods and parked my weary body. I did not have my typical distractions to keep me busy. I was able to release my daily grind routine and stop. Truly stop. It was an anomaly for me. And I almost missed it. I was overcome with peace, calm, stillness and I felt the ever presence of my Father within me and sitting beside me. I sat there for hours. I didn’t want to move. I wanted to stay in that moment forever. Unfortunately, my rear end was getting numb and I was getting hungry. Before I left, I asked, “Lord, how do I hang on to this moment when I return home and the reality of my life?” His answer, “I am with you always.” I realized then, it’s possible to have this peace, calm and comfort in the midst of where I am today. I do value and believe we all need time away, a change of scenery to unplug from the world around us. I also believe and have experienced that same anomaly in the midst of the storms of life.
Each step we take in our spiritual journey is preparing us for what is yet to come. Taking a break and removing myself from my daily grind was my “training” in having the same peace and calm in the midst of the daily grind.
Getting away on my own has been a little more difficult over the last few years. I’ve had to hone in on quality stillness time in the midst of our daily lives.
I may not have a swing in the middle of the woods, but I have a swing in my backyard. I may not be able to set my phone down for a few days, but I can leave it inside while I spend some time outside. I may not be able to sit in His presence for hours at a time, but I can sit in the stillness of His presence for shorter intervals throughout the day. It’s not easy my friends. We need to be intentional about it.
We need both experiences. We need to balance our quiet times with Him. We need to allow ourselves to go away to a quiet place. Jesus did it often. We also need to learn how to have the mindset of being in His stillness in the midst of the daily grind. The twist in it all, is that He is always with us. I have Him with me ALL the time; in my heart and in my mind. The kicker is, I’m not always with Him. Too many times I vear off with my mind going a mile a minute as He patiently walks beside me waiting for me to turn to Him and revel in His presence and be still.
The other night, the sky was clear and the stars were sparkling brightly. I sat outside stargazing and sitting in wonderment of God’s creation. Instead of having five days away, I had an hour away. And it worked, it really worked. I was able to shut everything else off, sit in His presence and be in awe of His creation. It was a refreshing moment at the end of an exhausting day. A little piece of Heaven here on earth!
Do you have a “Nothing Box?” If it’s a struggle, I challenge you after you finish reading this to take 10 minutes and go to your “Nothing Box.” Sounds like a short amount of time, but it will feel like an eternity if you have a hard time stopping your mind. If you have a “Nothing Box” I just gave you a valid excuse to go there! Haha! If anyone asks, tell them I said it was okay to go to your “Nothing Box!”
Set a specific time aside. Add it to your calendar. Make it a priority. Plan a vacation to rest and be still. Whatever fits you best, spend some quality stillness time with your Heavenly Father. He wants to hang out with you, to spend time with you. Take a few minutes and hang out with Him. He is right there with you right now. Say, “HI!”
Find your “Nothing Box” with Jesus and revel in His presence.
Thanks for sharing a moment with me. We are in this Nothing Box together with Him.