It seems I have stumbled upon a rare season – one known to few who walk this journey of life.
This season presents itself with empty squares on the calendar and days in which I have the freedom to wake up in the morning and decide what I would like to do with the hours ahead. This season holds hours at a coffee shop – reading and writing and jotting down inspiration as it comes. It holds free afternoons to sit beside the river, and clear mornings to wipe down the counters and sweep the floors. And when asked how I’m doing by others, the standard answer “busy” doesn’t seem to fit.
I’ve stumbled upon the rare season of space in my days. I have free time to use as I desire. I have days with no reminders buzzing on my phone. I work 15-25 hours a week, have no children of my own, am out of school, and suddenly confronted with the idea that my tasks in each day aren’t more than the hours that are given.
I can hear some of you sigh – those with full-time, demanding jobs, or with a packed course load, or raising little ones. I hear your silent wishes for some empty space on your calendar. I can see you imagining all the things you could do with a few free hours a week. I realize I may have instilled slight envy into the hearts of some.
But before you get too jealous let me tell you a secret.
It is actually harder than it may seem.
This is a culture that is obsessed with busy. We pack our schedules to the brim – signing ourselves (or our children) up for every extra-curricular, every sport option, all of the classes possible. We say yes to any opportunity that comes our way, we attempt to balance multiple jobs on top of the daily chores of being a human, running a home, and raising a family. If for a minute we aren’t busy it feels like we are doing something wrong. Our roles, our achievements, our leadership positions, our careers – these are what define us.
Have you ever noticed the pattern of small talk that happens when meeting new people? Almost before the names are even spoken we are asking what the other does. “My name is a Greer. I work part-time at the high school and middle school where my husband teaches, I nanny a couple days a week, I teach piano lessons.” That’s my standard introduction. But I only do these tasks 15-25 hours a week. What about the other 143 hours in the week? Why is it that my definition of myself is wrapped up in my few, sporadic jobs that occur during the week?
What we do has become who we are.
And so, when we moved from Denver to Buena Vista for my husband’s job and I left my 28 private piano students, my 5 choirs that I accompanied for, my assistant college position, the after school classes I taught, 3 acceptances to grad schools, and the opportunity for gigging that arose from time to time I was suddenly without an identity.
Hi. I’m Greer. I don’t have a job. I am no one.
How am I doing? Well, I’m not busy so I guess I don’t know.
For someone who loves to achieve and to do this was a rattling place to be.
“So what do you do all day?” A sweetly blunt friend asked me. “Sit in your quiet house in the dark and do nothing?” She was only curious, but to me it felt like an attack to my personhood. Yeah, I guess that’s all I do. Yeah, I guess I’m no one.
What if we started asking people who they were instead of what they did?
What if we all spent less time doing and more time being?
Being in Christ. Being the person we were lovingly crafted to be. Being alive. Being aware. Being quiet. Being still.
Be still and know that I am God.
We want so badly to do more. To make the most of our time. To live well and try everything and achieve all that we can. We want to fill up our resumes and pack our schedules. And in this frantic effort to do it all we are being less.
I wouldn’t have ever arrived at this season of quiet on my own. It was thrust on me, chosen for me. And in full disclosure of my inner world, there’s been days that my husband leaves to work and I am left staring at the white spaces on my calendar wondering what in the world I should do, and who in the world am I? I find myself missing the college years or the days I worked full time when I could wake up and have a list of twenty things ahead that I can race ahead and accomplish, one after the other after the other.
But God was gracious in giving me this season. In forcing the space across my schedule. He was gracious to teach me how to be.
“When I am constantly running there is no time for being. When there is no time for being there is no time for listening.” –Madeleine L’Engle
It is not in the big, not in the loud, not in the tremendous fire or wind that we hear God. It is in the silence. We hear Him whisper to our souls when we have at last stopped running.
You are loved. You are masterfully created. You are redeemed. You are chosen. You are mine.
So I’m learning to stop fearing the stillness. I am learning to embrace the season of space that I’ve been given. I am choosing not to fill it up with things just for the sake of being busy. I am learning to be. I am learning who I am is not what I do.
I am learning to be.