Perhaps it’s just the norm these days. The never-ending battle at balancing being present and being connected. The never ending battle of trying to feel fullness in the pursuit of wholeness. Because something is telling us there is happiness in that wholeness. That elusive state of being where all the puzzle pieces might just fit beautifully together. Where we can experience contentment and peace of mind despite the bustling of a hyper-active and over-connected society that surrounds us. It’s a constant tug-of-war that goes on in our minds. A mental battle with a few layers of guilt and complete exhaustion added in while we thirst for this promised feeling that wholeness will bring us. But what are we filling ourselves with to achieve it?
I recently heard a story someone told about a herd of deer that became trapped outside of their natural habitat due to heavy snowfall. Some locals, in an effort to save the deer, came with truckloads of hay to leave in the area. Hay is not normally what deer eat, but they hoped that it might help them survive the winter until the snow melted away. Unfortunately, most of the deer were later found dead despite their stomachs being completely full of the hay.
Are we like the deer? Are we consuming whatever is put in front of us in an effort to keep up with what society deems important and mistaking our fullness for wholeness? Or are we merely masking the emptiness with all that we consume?
We wake up to news reports and headlines, the latest political scandal or Hollywood rumor. We scroll to see things we should buy, the dream home we should be working for, the next weight loss program that promises us pounds lost. We read about divorces, deaths, and rants from those in our social circle. We consume, and consume and consume. But what are we consuming? And more importantly, what is it leaving us with? Are we left with nourishment to serve ourselves, our families, our children, and our home with? Or are they getting what is left after the world has gotten first grabs?
While I have so much growing to do, I know for me I set out with one goal to help combat what I face day in and day out. I wanted to arm myself the best way I could to not only ease the anxiety and exhaustion that grows throughout my days, but to also have more peace of mind that not everything has to happen right now. I don’t have to have it all figured out right now and I don’t have to be everything to everyone. I wanted to feel peace amid deadlines and expectations. Amid goals and failures. Amid everything on my plate as a wife, mother, business owner and home educator.
I promised myself that I would pray and study the scriptures every single morning. Now, I wish I was a better human and that this was already engrained in me and something I never faltered in. However, I am meeting you here in my shortcomings and in my desire to be better to tell you that this is something I have struggled with. Prior to this change, I would wake up each day and rush to get to my to-do list that was riddled with unrealistic deadlines, huge projects to tackle alone, and so much more. I thought I needed to give these things all of my time to accomplish all of the things, but in my pursuit of this, I was mistaking the fullness I felt as nourishment. I still went to bed each night feeling exhausted, anxious and depleted. Rinse and repeat.
My fullness was not being pursued with an anthem. A reason. A battle cry. I was doing it wrong. And I was doing it alone.
So, I made a promise that I would pray and study every morning. I jumped in and for the first week and with this goal being fresh on my mind, it went perfectly. Then the second week came and it started to get harder. And then the third week. And then the fourth week. Now, was I perfect? No. I faltered here and there. But do you know what happened? I started to feel the difference. Like, the most beautiful difference.
My mood was lighter. My ability to calmly approach overwhelming deadlines or projects was a welcome change. I was able to better assess my time to focus on what mattered most. I was quicker to put my phone down and keep it there to be present in conversation or time with my family. I was scrolling less and accomplishing more. I was going to bed feeling stronger. And with more peace of mind. I was celebrating myself for what was accomplished that day instead of punishing myself for what wasn’t. I was constantly pushing away the thoughts that I wasn’t moving fast enough and working hard to allow the feelings of contentment and intentionality to find their way in.
Because of the change I was experiencing, I decided to take it one step further. I then promised myself that not only was I going to pray and study every morning, but I wasn’t going to pick up my phone or give my attention to the outside world until I put my focus where it should be first. One hour. I would give myself one hour to take control of my day instead of giving my power to the world. Wake up, pray, study, get ready. Rinse and repeat.
My entire world shifted because of this one small act. Because I was filling my cup with the first hour of my day to get my soul, mind and heart right I was being nourished in the most beautiful of ways. Am I perfect at it? Absolutely not. I still have days where I am off, but perfection was never the prize to be won. Perfection is empty fullness. I want nourishing fullness. I want the kind of fullness you get when in the pursuit of wholeness. But you know what happens now when I do falter? I feel it. Like, I really feel the difference in all that I do and how I feel and I immediately get myself back on track. Because I don’t want to feel empty if I can help it.
Is it the whole picture? Does it cure all of the problems and issues? No. But the world wasn’t built in a day and neither will our wholeness. This is just one piece to the puzzle, but my hope is that with the clarity gained I will find the other pieces as I continue sifting through the noise and chaos of today’s world. As emptiness is replaced with fullness. As anxiousness is replaced with peace and contentment. As we continue on in the pursuit, that elusive state of wholeness can become a reality. And that, my friend, will be a beautiful thing.
What have you found to be helpful in combatting the pressures and noise of today’s society? I would love to hear about your successes in this area!