As a wife, mother, daughter, sister, colleague, and neighbor, I take in a lot of input every day. So much so, that I decided I wanted to know just how many times a day my brain is called upon to make decisions; here’s what I found:
Various internet sources estimate that an average adult makes about 35,000 remotely conscious decisions each day (in contrast a child makes about 3,000). This number may sound absurd, but in fact, we make 226.7 decisions each day on just food alone, according to researchers at Cornell University (Wansink and Sobal, 2007). As your level of responsibility increases, so does the smorgasbord of choices you are faced with.
— Leading Edge Journal, Roberts Wesleyan College
My alarm goes off and I must decide: The children were up late spending quality time with Dad, so do I wake them, or lay in bed a little longer and let all of us enjoy extra sleep? I work from home, so I have the flexibility to make decisions like that.
They’re up. And hungry. And my daughter wants chocolate cereal, applesauce, and umpteen pieces of toast. Is this reasonable? She is a bit grouchy from her late night, maybe it’s easier to simply give in to her breakfast demands…
What to wear. I already wore this cute tee yesterday, but I love it, and I won’t see the same people ... yup, I’m wearing this one again.
The bed needs new sheets. Do I change them now, or put it off until tonight?
Better check the bank account. Hmm – it’s close to payday and our balance is pretty low, maybe I should put off a pending bill or two.
Flats or flip flops? I think the scratch on the side of my right foot is saying “flip flops.”
I need gas, but I don’t think I should use the check card. Maybe I can scrounge up a few bucks to squeak by until payday.
Should I drive the speed limit, or 5 miles over? I need to get our day rolling, and we did sleep in this morning…
The hubby will be home late from work, I wonder if I should make a late dinner, make him something when he gets home, or let him fend for himself.
And on. And on. And on…
It doesn’t really surprise me that during all my “Adult-ing,” I make more than 35,000 decisions in a day. With two young children, a dog, two cats, a husband, a house, and nearby extended family to keep up with, sometimes I feel like I have to make 10,000 decisions an hour! On top of that, I will admit to being a bit of a hoarder clutter bug, and it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the constant calls for my attention from the people, the bills, the piles of stuff…
Something I’ve longed for, for a while now, is more margin in my life.
If life begins as a blank sheet of paper, I have filled that sheet from top to bottom, side to side, on both sides. Then I painted over the top with whiteout, wrote some more, and spilled milk and muffin crumbs on it for good measure.
My once-pristine page is wrinkled. It’s torn around the edges. It’s, dare I say, dirty. And I am guilty of building a life with no room left in the margin, instead of leaving space to breathe, to connect with God, and to simply be still.
“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
— Psalm 46:10
God isn’t asking us to “do as much as we possibly can, as quickly as we can, for everyone we possibly can.” He simply says, “Be still.” What a beautiful, simple, poignant call to less action for our hectic lives.
Sometimes what the hands and feet of Christ (as in, his children and servants – us) need most of all is to rest, to seek peace in silent reflection, and to lay aside that lengthy to-do list (or ditch it altogether.) Life is not a race, although it may begin to feel that way if we let it. Nor is it a game of “Survivor: Work/Parenting/Financial/Relationship Success Edition.” As believers in Christ, eternity in Heaven is the goal of our faith, and the worldly trophies offered by this world mean little in the light of eternity with God.
Need a daily reminder? Here's how to get this great-looking "Be Still" T-shirt or the brand-new "Be Still" phone case, both pictured at right.
Here are some ideas to help you BE STILL if you, like me, are working with a rather bedraggled and overwritten sheet of paper:
Of all the qualities God wants us to embody as believers, overwhelmed is nowhere on the list. May you find God’s grace in every unwritten corner of your being, and the patience, courage, and perseverance to create more margin in your life.
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