Two years ago, I read my favorite book, Breathe, by Keri Wyatt Kent, for the first time. That summer I was serving on high school staff at church twice a week (plus activities), running a mom's program at church once a month, hosting our church fellowship group at my house, holding monthly stamping classes, teaching card making at JoAnn's, leading a table at MOPS, walking three times a week with a friend, and trying to keep my life together with a two year old and a newborn. I was busy. Way. Too. Busy. I was so busy helping and volunteering and doing that I had lost the ability to just be. To breathe.
After reading this book for the first time, I realized I needed a major shift in my life and my thinking. I had been defining my success in life with what I was accomplishing rather than who I was becoming. There had to be a major shift in thinking in order for me to live the life of peace to which God was calling me. There was no room for peace in my busy schedule.
Two years later, my life is quite different. I've spent two years ruthlessly eliminating hurry, as Keri puts it. I'm still very involved at church, but that means a once a week Bible study (which I'm attending, not leading), hosting my fellowship group (which I truly love doing), meeting once a week with a friend to discuss books we're reading together, and holding a stamping class whenever I feel up to it, which is once every several months. What a change! Of course, the boys being two and four instead of newborn and two does help, but there are so many other areas which God has carefully shown me that needed to be pruned out of my life. Some things were a huge relief to let go of. Others I still wonder why he chose someone else for the job. But the point is, I have space to breathe.
The purposeful slowing down of my life has only been encouraged as I read others' blogs and see how their lives have benefitted from staying close to family, close to the earth, close to home. I read about others who are choosing to avoid the busyness of the world in their own ways, and I am encouraged. Life in the OC moves pretty fast, and we get some strange looks from those who wonder why our lives are moving at such a slow pace. And I'm okay with that. I know that this path is the right one for me and for my family. I can feel God's peace in our lives these days. Every now and then I find myself rushing the boys to get their shoes on or to clean something up, and I realize that while it used to be the norm, it's become somewhat out of character for me to do that. I notice it and I chastise myself for pushing the boys to live life at the pace of the world. What a change.
Now that I've pruned my life down to the bare minimum, I am so much more able to enjoy the works God has given me to do. I find myself much less resentful about doing the housework, much less worried about what others think of me at church or in the neighborhood, much less stressed. I have space for unexpected things, whether that means making phone calls and cooking meals when someone at church has a sudden death in the family, or if it just means stopping to play in the sprinklers for a while on the way home from the park. Why not? We have no place to rush off to these days. Isn't this life, after all, these little moments? Creating space to breathe…it has made such a difference for me.