Today a bird hovered in front of my screen door. She paused for a moment, looking in; her wings spread up and out, much like you’d see in a bird hovering above Snow White.
Maybe she was lost. Perhaps she was curious. Quite likely she was there just to taunt my cat (which definitely worked!) But I felt like she came to bring me a message:
Get out of that box in your head!!!
The older I get, the more responsibilities I’m given, and the longer my to-do list becomes–plus now I’m a mom!– the higher the walls of the box in my head grow.
Ok, what is this crazy lady talking about? …Well I’ll tell you!
I believe God created our brains so vast, deep, and intricate,
with boundless creativity, limitless bright ideas, and endless space,
to create rich and luscious lives.
As children, we dive deep into that!
As children, we can get lost in the forest for days, without even leaving our front yard.
As children we can sail the mighty seas, and play with the mermaids and dolphins, yet never leave our bath tub.
As children, we can soar high above our city; above the clouds; above the earth; above the stars!… yet never leave our windowsill.
As adults, we have the freedom, the finances, the ability, and the lack of supervision to actually accomplish most of those things. Yet we are imprisoned inside of these boxes in our heads that tell us that being a responsible adult, and living a creative, freedom filled life cannot be synonymous.
With each adult responsibility that gets added to our list, the walls of those boxes inch higher and higher.
- Laundry – Brrrump! (That’s the noise your box makes when its walls grow)
- Budget – Brrrump!
- Going to the dentist – Brrrump!
- Dishes – Brrrump!
- Going to the gym – Brrrump!
- Visiting your in-laws – Brrrump!
- Bills – Brrr–
- Taxes – Brrr–
- Doctors – Brrr–
- Debt – BRRRUMP!
Jesus beckons, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
- Matthew 11:28-30
But what does it look like to find rest? We can’t simply cross all of the to-do’s off of our list without to-doing them!
No, you’re right. We can’t.
But! What if… now work with me here… What if, you let the laundry slide for the day, and went out to play in the yard with your kids?
Oh no, but then the laundry will pile up, and you’ll have twice as much to do tomorrow. Right?
At the end of your life, or this week, or even today, what will you be more grateful for?The folded laundry? Or the memories with your kids?
Now of course it’s hard to do this every day. And I know there are some of you out there who stick to a regimented laundry schedule, which keeps more clothes in the drawers than in the hamper, (and keeps you a little less stressed because of it.) Great, don’t let me stop you! But there must be something in your life that you could do a little less of.
Or how about this? Instead of finding something to do less, maybe you find time to schedule a little bit of nothingness. If you are a person who loves schedules, block off a chunk of time to do nothing but let yourself out of that dreary ol’ box.
And that nothingness will look different for everyone:
For some of you, it may be playing outside with your kids. Or your dog. Or your parakeet!– Hey, whatever brings you joy!
For others, it could be going for a long, solitary walk on the beach.
For some it could mean a hiking adventure!
For you it may be painting.
For many, it might be just laying in the grass, staring up into the sky, letting your mind drift with the breeze.
Do you remember what it was like to find castles in the clouds?
It won’t be easy at first. Especially if you made yourself grow up far before childhood was over. But that 4-year-old is still inside of you! You just have to let her out.
On your first attempt, you might be laying in the grass, staring at the sky, when… There! In the clouds! Why that looks like a pencil. And paper! Oh, I better get in and finish filing my taxes!
ERR! Stop! Reset. Stand up; shake it off; whatever you need to do.
Our to-do list will always creep in to distract us from really living. It’s the old adage, “If the devil can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy.”
I heard some advice recently that has helped me clear my mind. When you are sitting in stillness, whether praying, or meditating, or just releasing the day, and that pesky to-do task or any other distracting worry pops into your head, grab a balloon!
No not a real balloon of course. But I’m going to call on that 4-year-old inside of you again.
Imagine you’re holding a balloon.
Now write your worry on it.
Then say, “Bon voyage!”
Release that balloon!
Watch it fly into the sky!!
Now return to rest.
The other day, I was overwhelmed with worry and stress. My husband came into the nursery, stood in front of my chair as I nursed my little babe, and blew up an imaginary balloon. In total silence, he tied it and held it in front of me patiently until I wrote my worry on it. He then proceeded to go out the back door and release it to the sky. (Of course, not before unsticking it from the invisible awning it got caught on.)
Do you want to know what my worry was? I honestly don’t remember.
You wanna know what I do remember?
I remember my stress lifting. I remember laughing hard, yet soft at the same time, so as not to wake the baby. I remember taking in the moment of my husband acting like a fool with an imaginary balloon.
The scriptures are full of permission to give up worries and to-do’s, and replace them with rest:
The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.
– Exodus 14:14
And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.
– Mark 6:31
In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.
– Isaiah 30:15
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
– Luke 10:41-42
I don’t know that a bird is going to hover in front of your door to remind you to look at the world through the eyes of a child again. So don’t wait for that. Do it now! You might find you feel silly. And you probably are. That means you’re doing it right! Kids love to feel silly! And God longs for us to be as free as children!
But in case you have some trouble when you first start, (and if my husband’s goofiness is not enough encouragement,) let me share this story from my own experience, in hope that it may help you free that boxed up child:
The other day I came home from seeing a late showing of Beauty and the Beast with my mother-in-law. My baby and husband were sound asleep. My imagination was running wild.
I crept through the darkness, the creepy halls of my castle. Without the flick of a switch, I found a match, and lit a candle. Then I danced through the corridors, in giddiness yet trepidation, so as not to wake the Beast!
Aka: I took a shower by candlelight.
That’s what it looked like to the outside world anyway. But if you could see my imagination painted on the wall, it was far more entertaining!
So when you let that little kid out, don’t focus on the “crazy” you feel. Focus on the freedom!
Who gave you instructions to grow up? Maybe today you take their name, even if it’s your own, and write it on a balloon.
Then give yourself permission to be little again.
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.
“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come! If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.
“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.
“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.”
– Matthew 18:1-14