I couldn’t stop. I was a human doing, not a human being.
It started when I was a teenager and my mean old dad told me that I was useless around the house. He expected me to always be doing something. “Wash the dishes” or “Clean up this room” or “Do something constructive.” Homework counted only if it involved a pencil. Reading a book didn’t qualify. I needed to be DOING something.
That carried over into adulthood: I’d go to my job every day, come home and fix dinner, then find something to do. And when I married and had kids, we’d find an activity – any activity – to do as a family. The idea was to always go – go – go.
One Thursday we had nothing scheduled. As we sat around the dinner table, I asked the boys what they wanted to do. They came up with several ideas, none of which involved just sitting and talking. So we went to a mall and walked around, spending money we didn’t have on impulse buys.
It wasn’t until after I remarried at the age of 44 that I learned that always doing wasn’t normal.
My second husband Bryan was a homebody, perfectly content to stay in most nights and take it easy. After dinner, I’d do my usual: get up from the table and get busy.
He asked me to sit and watch television with him. I tried, but couldn’t be still. At the first commercial, I got up to clean the kitchen and start doing laundry. I don’t think I saw the end of that program.
Bryan invited me to sit with him every night, and I’d stay a little longer each time. Eventually, I watched an entire movie without looking for something to do. It was glorious!
When Bryan told my grown son that I had watched movie without getting up once, Ben didn’t believe it. “Wait,” he said. “You’re telling me my mom actually sat – on the couch – for two hours, and didn’t jump up to do something? You’ve accomplished the impossible.”
That was exactly what Bryan had done – he convinced me that I didn’t need to prove my worth by being constantly busy. I could finally become what God intended: a human BEING, not a human DOING.
Psalm 46:10 tells us, “Be still and know that I am God.” Not that we can’t think of Him as God somewhere in the busyness, but being still, we can listen and KNOW that He’s in charge.
Guess what I learned. I actually enjoy doing nothing. Not often or for more than a few minutes, but once in a while. I just sit and feel God’s presence. It’s very peaceful.
If you’re addicted to DOING all the time like I was, try being still. Begin with a few minutes, then gradually increase the time. You may find the same peace I discovered.
Be still and know . . .