Be Still

Slowing it down for the best biscuits of my life.

Slowing it down for the best biscuits of my life.

I have overslept three times in the past two weeks.

Three times.

You might be thinking, What’s the big deal? Or Three is nothing; I oversleep every day!

But for me, three times in fourteen days is a lot.

Three times, I woke up, noticed the clock was way past the time when I needed to get up, and immediately felt a surge of adrenaline and anxiety. You know that feeling: the one where you bolt out of bed, move through the house like a tornado, and start your day in a scramble.

It’s not fun.

It happened this morning, and I missed a coffee date I was so looking forward to. But when my friend texted back that she was thankful I got the rest my body needed, she made me think about what my body actually needs. I have been operating on full throttle for the past four years. Maybe even longer. Ever since graduating college and moving to New York, I’ve been in acceleration mode, constantly pushing to go further and faster and harder.

What would it look like to take a deep breath? To push pause on the flurry of activity in my life and enjoy the present moment without hustling through it?

These are questions I am currently wading through and exploring as I settle into life here in Tennessee.

In New York City, I walked everywhere. I walked up and down six flights of stairs just to get to my apartment. I walked up and down more stairs each time I rode the subway. I lugged 20-plus pounds of groceries block after block whenever I went shopping or visited the farmer’s market. (And probably a lot more if I went to Trader Joe’s because I can’t resist.)

Seemingly easy tasks often became far more complicated simply because I lived in New York.

The week before I left the city, I put together a garbage bag full of clothing and shoes to take to my local Salvation Army. I finally found time to transport them—on a day when it was raining. So I ordered a $5 Uber to drive me the 10 minutes to the Salvation Army. The driver ended up yelling at me about slamming his trunk too hard after I put my trash bag in there. He got so angry with me, in fact, that he scared me. I got out of his car before the ride even started and attempted to take a cab instead. Unfortunately the cab I hailed told me he was only going to Brooklyn. I left the cab with my giant trash bag and stepped back into the rain. I burst into tears, leaving my donation bag on the street and walking back to my apartment.

It’s a silly example but an example nonetheless: Everyday life in New York City is serious work. It’s hard, and it’s not for the faint of heart. It will knock you down time and time again. It will make you push the gas pedal harder and harder until eventually you’re running on empty.

Despite all of this, I loved it.

I loved the thrill. I loved seeing how much I could handle and accomplish and excel at. I loved having a packed calendar and knocking things off my list. I loved seeing the number of steps on my iPhone hit 8 or 10 or 12 thousand every day. I loved the constant movement. And I loved the sense of power I got from living a life that many people told me they could never handle.

I let “New Yorker” become part of my identity.

Now, I drive pretty much everywhere. I have a Walmart, Target, Kroger, Publix, you name it within a five to 10-minute drive of my apartment. I have a 15-minute commute instead of a 50-minute one. I live on the ground floor. I have a dishwasher and a thermostat. I have convenience in a way I haven’t experienced since college, and it’s amazing.

It’s also really challenging for me. I think part of what led to my eating disorder years ago was this internal desire to push myself and be better. Ultimately, it wasn’t about the food—it was about control and maximizing my own control. It was about approval and accomplishments. It was about being the best. Having success.

My definition of success became entwined with busyness and movement. If I’m honest, it still is. I still see a full life as one that’s very busy and active.

Yet in the past two weeks, God has been showing me how completely false that is. He’s forcing me to rest. I’m oversleeping because I’m tired. My body is craving the rest. For the first time in years, I’m not walking everywhere and collapsing into bed at the end of the day. I’m not pushing myself with a new fitness or yoga routine. I’m not scheduling in a million coffee dates, dinners, and parties.

I want to keep moving and pushing, but the Lord is all, “Be still and know that I am God.”

He is stripping me of control. My ability to wake up to an alarm is not so hot right now, and the step counter on my iPhone is broken. I don’t think either is a coincidence. I talked a lot about rest and stillness while living in Manhattan. I even wrote a blog post on practicing a Sabbath. The little ways that I rested as New York City resident were really just the practice round. Now I’m in the game. Now I have put those stillness strategies into play for real.

I found out this week that my NYC subletter is moving out. I’ll need to find a new apartment-mate for my old roomie, someone who is a good fit for her and who’s also willing to stay. Otherwise, I’m liable for six month’s rent. Yikes.

There’s very little I can do from here to find this new roommate. I put up ads and am spreading the word, but I don’t have much control over the situation. The thing is, God called me here to Tennessee. He won’t leave this big piece of the puzzle unsolved. He provided before, and He’ll do so again. This time, he’s doing it without my control. He’s doing it while asking me to be still.

It’s evident to me that the Lord knows what I need and is using everything from broken alarm clocks to a subletter falling through to show me that what I need is rest.

God put a verse on my heart this morning. I keep hearing Acts 17:28 over and over in my head:

“For in Him, we live and move and have our being. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are His offspring.”  

I move and I have life because of Him. Period. That’s encouraging to me. My identity is not rooted in being a New Yorker, in hitting 10,000 steps a day, or in crossing things off an endless checklist. I’m a child of God. My identity is complete in Him. I pray I remember that every day.

Thank you, Jesus, for giving me life and the ability to move. Thank you for reminding me that you are in control, and life is so much better that way. Thank you for showing me stillness. Give me the courage to practice all you’re teaching me.

I pray that you, too, would see the beauty of stillness. Surrender to His plans and provision. Let Him do His work, and I know your life will be a glorious adventure because of it.