Recently I posted a picture of a pause button on my social media channels. I had just wrapped up a busy few weeks and felt the weight of the busyness crashing in like a tidal wive upon my thoughts. I felt trapped, enclosed by the clutter of a noisy, boisterous, and wonderful schedule. However it wasn’t necessarily the “busyness” that was out of line, but rather the condition my heart was leaning towards.
So I pushed pause.
I packed a bag, logged out of my social media channels, turned off email notifications on my phone, and pointed my little red convertible towards the ocean. In the midst of my pause, I read. I slept. I wrote. I prayed. I asked myself hard questions. I dreamed. I watched movies. I stared at the ocean. I breathed deeply.
And then I logged back in.
I came back to the hustle and bustle with fresh air in my lungs, a refreshed bounce in my step. As my car journeyed desert-bound, I was ready. Ready to stand back up. Ready to keep going. Ready to continue becoming the Emily that God made me to be.
I’m learning that it’s difficult to become if I don’t embrace the value of pausing. And I’m not saying a busy schedule is bad—life comes in seasons of hectic moments and unrushed tranquility. It’s in the midst of the happenings of life that I’m seeing the value in unrushed moments—planned moments to pause, planned moments to become.
If I could use one word to describe my trek westward in pursuit of pushing pause, it would be intentional. When I decided to push pause, I chose to be extremely intentional in becoming Emily. I gained perspective because I made room to think and ask myself questions. I grew mentally and emotionally because I made room to read and listen to podcasts. I heard Jesus in a fresh and new way because I made room to listen to what He was saying.
Nothing before I pushed pause was “bad” or even negative; but what I began to see was that in the midst of the good, if I’m too busy, too consumed, to really live and experience the moments on my iCal, then something is dangerously out of whack. And the common denominator in that something is me. So I have to be intentional with myself, with choosing who I will become.
So, in the midst of the hustle and bustle, how can we push pause? How can we intentionally become who God made us to be?
- How we start matters. I’m not naturally a morning person, but I can tell the difference in the rest of my day when I choose to get up a few minutes early for an unrushed morning and precious moments with Jesus. If I’m thinking with the end in mind—how I want to finish a day, a week, a month, a year—how I start matters.
- Notifications are over-rated. I love crossing items off to-do lists. There’s just this simple satisfaction discovered in little check marks, right?! However, the opposite rings true for me as well. I get frustrated when I can’t cross something off a list—and it often leaves a nagging feeling inside I can’t shake until I can cross the item off. I found this to be true of notifications on my phone—social media alerts, app notifications and little reminders of how many emails I need to read stress me out! So, I turned them off! Sure, I don’t get the up-to-the-second updates on when someone likes my latest Instagram post, but truthfully, does that even matter? Does it help me create space to become Emily? I haven’t found that it does.
- One night a week. I’m what I like to call a “social introvert.” I love interacting with people, spending time with friends, and both hosting and attending events. But I also gain energy from alone time. I’ve found that a good rhythm for my personality is that I need at least one night each week at home. So, as my schedule starts filling up, I protect at least one night, if not two. Protecting this white space helps ensure that I’m intentionally pausing and being refreshed to be who God made me to be.
- Lists are actually a good idea. It’s been said that if we don’t write it down, we’ll forget it. I know this to be 100% true! As I’m running errands, watching Netflix, cooking dinner, running, or even hanging out with friends, ideas will pop into my head and I’ll remember different things I need to accomplish at home or work. So, rather than allowing them to continue to tumble around in my head, I add them to a reminder list for whatever category they fall into—Personal, Work, Groceries, etc. This simple task list keeps me organized and grounded—and my brain clutter free!
- Knowing how your body operates makes a lasting difference. As we learn more about ourselves and how we operate, there are many simple ways we can not only save time, but also save stress and added emotional busyness in our days. I know two very important triggers that I physically need to keep in check in order to have a positive attitude and be the Emily that God made me to be—being hungry and tired. When I’m hungry, I need food! And when I’m tired, I either need coffee or a good ‘ole nap! Because I know my body and the rhythm of my fast-moving schedule, there are two items I always have in my purse to save time and money: snacks and Via coffee packets. Now, rather than rushing to the nearest fast-food restaurant or desperately dreaming about coffee, I am prepared for whatever comes my way.
- Knowing what relaxes you sets you up to win. What helps you relax? For me, I find rest in cooking, my favorite Netflix shows, writing, a good book poolside, manis/pedis, and a good run. These are simple things I can do each week! I don’t have to travel to paint my toe nails or whip up a new recipe. I can do those things in my own home. We don’t always have to go on vacation to push pause.
- Push pause for a whole week at least once a year. Where is your favorite place in the world? Mine is Sanibel Island. Hands down. Since I was a little girl, my family has pushed pause at Sanibel for a week every year. And that week truly jumpstarts the rest of my year. It refreshes me, encourages me, and provides the space for me to remember who I want to become as I continue on this journey.
Pushing pause comes in many different shapes and sizes—sometimes pausing is found in an extra hour found at the end of every day simply because we engaged in time-saving activities; perhaps pausing is an intentional car ride filled with talking with Jesus and worshipping Him; pausing may even look like a week at the beach. No matter what form it takes, pausing matters because it helps us continue to become who God made us to be. Pausing reminds us of who we are, where we’re headed and why we’re on the journey in the first place. Pausing is the glue, the life-blood, the energizing force on this becoming journey.
How do you make the room to pause?