The Joy of Nothing

Tomorrow begins my last week of work. Since resigning from my job I’ve had a lot of people ask how I will be spending my time once I am no longer working. I’ve also heard a lot of people say they wouldn’t be able to do it; they would get bored after one or two weeks of having nothing to do.

When I first made the decision, I made a schedule for my unemployed days because I was worried I would fritter away valuable time. I have a list of goals and projects I want to accomplish, not to mention the never-ending tasks of keeping a home and husband.

But a part of me can’t wait to get those projects checked off the list so that I can sit and “do nothing.” It has been a long time since I have been able to focus and quiet my mind long enough to listen.

Today I read this observation about Americans in K. P. Yohannan’s book Revolution in World Missions and it really struck a chord:

“’Why do they always have to be either entertained or entertaining?’ I wondered. It was as if they were trying to escape from a guilt they had not yet defined or even identified.”

I am definitely guilty of moving fast and filling my life with noise as a means of avoiding certain feelings or issues. For instance, I haven’t yet grieved my mother’s passing, because I have managed to keep myself busy enough to not think about it. I am fairly confident that the grief will come out in full force in the coming months, and in an odd way, I am actually looking forward to it. Because I know it is far healthier to deal with it now than to look back 25 years in the future and see the negative consequences that holding it inside would have on my life and relationships.

I was reading Lauren Winner’s book Wearing God this week, which talked about God appearing to Moses in the burning bush, and how “the miracle is that Moses paid attention long enough to notice that the shrubbery was not being consumed…. Attentiveness, apparently, was the key attribute God needed in his chief prophet, deliverer, and friend. God needed a prophet and friend who could stop and stay still and look with focus and concentration.”

I miss that. I miss hearing God’s call on my life; but I know it is my own fault because I have not made time to stop and listen.

You know what else I miss? I miss having conversations with people that involve the phrases “me too” and “I don’t normally tell anyone this…” I remember being blown away that people would open up to me, that they would relate to my story. Unfortunately I’ve spent the last couple of years avoiding those conversations, because they are unpredictable, and I was spreading myself so thin that I had to have everything under control so as not to sink the whole ship. It has been exciting to hear these phrases again as I begin to share more of my story and open myself back up to the people in my community.

So here’s to the next few weeks: to finishing strong, to completing projects, but most of all, to enjoying the “nothingness” and the greatness that comes from it!

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