Learning to Be Still

Where my fellow over-thinkers at?? I am quite literally ALWAYS living in my head to some degree… replaying that conversation from yesterday (or from 3 years ago and still cringing at my response), thinking about my next meal (let’s be honest, this is probably the most frequent), dreaming about my ideal future life, etc. While spending a lot of time in your head is not necessarily a bad thing, it can lead to a dangerous slippery slope of emotional distress and unhealthy fixation. Let me elaborate…

As an emotional, identity-seeking, individualistic enneagram type 4, I have mastered the art of overthinking. I am driven by my emotions.. A “feeler” rather than a “thinker,” who spends a lot of time internally processing through all of my emotions to make sense of why I feel the way I do. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the enneagram, us 4s tend to “default” to sadness, determined to feel through all the negative emotions to get a better understanding of our identity and to better be able to relate to others. I am not only driven by my emotions, but by my strong desire for deep relationships with people. Because of this, I can put a lot of weight on my interactions with people and form unhealthy attachments to people. Through these interactions I end up placing expectations on myself as well as the people I’m interacting with and amplify my own need for approval in the process.

I recently came across a verse that hit me harder than the struggle bus. Galatians 1:10 says this, “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

YIKES.

Okay woah woah woah.. I mean it’s not a sin for me to want to connect with people so don’t try to tell me I’m not a servant of Christ.. Jeez Paul. Isn’t it funny how quickly we can jump on the defensive when we know we’ve been called out? After taking my pride out of the equation, I thought about this verse. It’s true that community and relationships with others are AMAZING things that come from God himself, and should be sought out; however, the danger is when those relationships become more important to you than your relationship with God.

IDOLS.

In his song Clear the Stage (go check this song out it’s amazing!), Jimmy Needham describes idols as anything that you want with all your heart, anything you give all your love, anything you put before your God, and anything you can’t stop thinking of. Take a minute to identify what you spend the most time thinking about… is it your significant other (or desire for one)? Your job? Food? Past or future? For me it’s all of the above, and rarely do I choose to clear out any space for God.

The other day I had an emotional breakdown out of NOWHERE. I’m talking puffy cheeks, tears.. The whole shebang. Now as I mentioned before.. I’m a feeler. I’m used to having strong emotions and dealing with them, but this time I was caught off guard. Apparently a lot of feelings had been circulating in my mind without my knowledge (or permission) and they all got triggered as I left a coffee shop where I had been doing homework. I got on the phone with Payton a couple hours later and the word vomit and tears came flooding out before I knew what was happening. I won’t hash out everything that caused those feelings, because you would be here a while.. But let’s just say that it was well rooted in relationships and experiences that I spend a LOT of time thinking about. I had been putting so much of my energy toward overthinking every aspect of these experiences and interactions with people that I drove myself to insanity without even realizing it.

The pastor at the church I go to has been talking a lot about attachments. He says that you know you are attached to something by looking at how much energy you put toward it. I realized that I have been putting all of my energy (and therefore forming attachments) to people, experiences, and expectations rather than God. I’ve allowed those things to occupy all of my head and heart space when I should have been letting God in to still my constantly running mind. I’ve constantly heard the words “be still,” but never known how to actually apply this. Every time I try to sit still in silence, I either get bored, fall asleep, or my mind starts wandering which defeats the purpose. I have not come anywhere near mastering this.. But lately I’ve been trying to learn how to be still. Instead of letting my mind focus on all my fears or fantasies, I’ve been learning to put my energy toward simply being. Clearing the stage of all the things that distract me from merely being in God’s presence. God is always present, but I am often not aware of this until I choose to be present to Him. Being still and shutting off the overthinking is hard for me, and it probably always will be. But the peace that comes when I allow God to steady my anxious heart makes it worth it.

So my question for you is this… What do you put all of your energy towards? What is keeping you from being in God’s presence? Perhaps self-awareness is the first step toward freedom.

Sending a hug!

Mads

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