I am a serious activist. I find it hard to sit down for 2 minutes, and I like to be doing at least 12 things at once. I genuinely concentrate better if I have several tasks on the go at once, and I really HATE to be bored! That's fine - it's how I'm wired, and how God made me to be. It's no better or worse than being someone who takes life at a slower pace, or who does one task till it's finished, than starts another one. It simply is what it is. Those of you who are like me will be smiling in recognition right now; those of you who work differently will be shaking your heads in confusion!
It's quite fun, being an activist. I like it. I find it energising and stimulating. For me, it goes hand in hand with being a serious extrovert (but more of that another day). However, the big drawback with it for me is that it can mean I find it hard to just sit and 'be'. I want to be able to do as Psalm 46 tells me and "be still and know that I am God." However I find it a whole lot easier to 'run around a lot all day and most of the time remember that I am God.' So is that OK? Should I just embrace my inner (and outer!) activist and go with it, or is it important that I train myself to sometimes simply be? How does this balance work for you I wonder?
I've wrestled with it on and off for years. And it turns out that the link between the times I manage to set aside time to be still with God, and how I feel about life, and how the day/week ahead pans out, is not hard to spot. Who knew?! When I make time with God a priority, things just feel better. And if I don't do it one day, I remember that grace is one of God's greatest gifts to us...
I write these times of quiet and stillness into my diary but then pressures and meetings and deadlines crowd in and it's too easy for them to be squeezed out. And yet when I take what you might call a 'quiet day' or a retreat day or whatever, the benefits are huge - to my sense of peace, to my relationship with God, to my productivity. On Monday I went to a lovely local convent for the day. I sat looking at an amazing view (which I forgot to photograph - sorry!). I sat and thought "I'll just listen to some worship music for 10 minutes" and then looked at my watch to see an hour had passed. Bliss!
The first song I listened to was Tim Hughes' fabulous song 'The Beauty of your Peace' which has lines in it from the old hymn 'Dear Lord and Father' - the wonderful words rolled over me again as I sat quietly with God - "Take from our souls the strain and stress and let our ordered lives confess the beauty of your peace." I reflected for a bit on the idea of 'peace' being 'beautiful' - what a lovely image that is. How accurately it reflects the way true peace can makes us feel, and conversely, how the absence of peace can seem ugly and cruel. I also liked the idea of us 'confessing' that beauty - that is, not just accepting it, but also enjoying it, sharing it, revelling in it.
Later I listened to Jeremy Riddle's stunning song 'It is well with my soul' - again, peace is mentioned, and the faith-filled declaration that "Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say 'it is well, it is well with my soul." That's one of those amazing phrases that I want to learn to use as naturally as I breathe!
As I left that faith-filled convent on Monday, it truly was 'well with my soul'. I hope the feeling lasts for a while...!