Even though it is summer, do you feel like “I can’t keep up”? By keeping up I’m referring to: the latest crisis in the news, current events, social media postings, Netflix recommendations, stacks of unread books, bursting email inboxes, text messages, etc., etc., etc. When I read this newsletter paragraph from an organization called Ransomed Heart, I can completely relate:
First, a friend shared with me how much he was enjoying a podcast by a thoughtful NPR commentator, and the nuggets of insight were impressive. A few hours later a different friend mentioned how much they were getting out of another podcast. I thought to myself, I’d better subscribe to those; they sound really good and I feel like I’m not keeping up with the trends. That afternoon, Stasi said something about some world news event she had just read about, and I thought, Wow – I am not keeping up on global happenings. I’d better do more of that, too. During a meeting the next day, someone makes a reference to a well-known ministry when everyone else at the table nods like they knew the story, and I’m wondering, Wow – I have no idea what is going on in the church world; I need to keep up. Meanwhile during the same meeting everyone was checking their cell phones for messages, updates, and news . . . The cumulative effect of all this – and I am describing a fairly benign and ordinary week – was to have a large part of me feeling woefully ill-informed, and grossly out of touch with all sorts of important matters. Shame was not far behind, followed by the scrambling we do to “get back on top of things.”
Sound familiar? Deep inside – I think we all know the truth. We can’t get caught up! If we embrace that concept, some of the pressure starts to subside. What is a true priority to us starts to clarify. Here are 4 ways to enhance your journey toward inner peace:
- Mornings (or evenings if you’re a night owl) – Whatever time fits you, as long as you have a margin of space when things quiet down, and you can be alone. Reflect on the good and bad of the day. Count your blessings and be thankful. Think, calm down, pray. Try sitting still. Read. Veg watching a classic movie.
- Making Memories – Be the one who takes the initiative for doing something. Schedule that overdue visit with someone at Starbucks. Pull out a board game or puzzle for family or friends. Try a new vacation spot. Stay in a nice hotel for an evening. If money is tight – go on a bike trek. Explore the library or a museum. My son recently shared one of his favorite childhood memories was fishing at Bear Creek. All I can remember were tangled lines, turtles getting our hooks in their mouths, and my impatience and frustration at not catching anything but maybe once or twice during all those years. Funny how kids see things clearer than we do. It wasn’t about the fish, it was about the time.
- Mental – choosing a positive attitude in spite of circumstances. Author Jon Gordon talks about how when we get hit unexpectedly with a challenge, we basically have a quarter of a second to choose positive instead of negative thoughts. It’s tough, but try it. At first, the positive sounds a little hokey or “pie in the skyish”. But the longer you engage in the practice, the positive thoughts start to become more authentic – and creative solutions start unveiling themselves. You will actually begin to feel better emotionally and mentally – and look at your situation with hope and possibilities instead of gloom and doom.
- Miles (okay, being outdoors – I struggled to find an “M” word for it) – Texas summers make this tough, but every now and then we get a cloud cover or a rainstorm to cool things off. C.S. Lewis believed that if you were physically capable – every person should take a walk everyday. Walking, hiking, biking, going to the park, sports, gardening, swimming, BBQ, washing the car or dogs, fixing stuff – anything that gives you an excuse to get outside.
“Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46: 10) We could all use a little more of being still. . . .
Please comment below – what is your favorite way of pursuing inner peace?