Sweat poured off of me faster than I could wipe it away. But still I sat, for an hour, in the 127 degree sauna. I purposely didn’t take anything in to entertain myself. No magazine, no phone, no music. Just myself and the heat and the silence.
I expected it would be a bit of a struggle to sit for an hour doing nothing, and it was. But I realized something interesting. The silence caused me to pay attention. I became aware of my body-the enormous amounts of sweat falling down my skin, the hair on the back of my neck prickling in the heat, my pulse, my heartbeat—everyday details about myself, my own life and existence, that I never even notice.
It was hard to sit for an hour with nothing to distract me from myself.
I don’t know if it was that silent hour that sparked it or if it was other factors, but within the past couple of weeks I’ve started to realize that my body has been wearing down. I have so many ideas, so many things I would like to do and need to do and should do, but my body can’t keep up with my spirit. I do my best to force it. I eat very healthy, take supplements, exercise regularly, get chiropractic adjustments, and do things like hour-long sauna detoxes. I should have great energy. But I don’t. I am so, so tired.
I’ve seen a lot of the world. I am painfully aware of my white, American privilege. As a result, I often ignore my own struggles. I don’t have the right to feel down or stressed. I have so much to be thankful for.
And all the time that I spend thinking that, I remain exhausted.
Last week I mentioned fasting. Since Ray and I experienced so much clarity and personal revelation last time, we decided to fast again, just for a day, earlier this week. I went for a long walk in the park.
It was just a thing on my to do list—get some exercise. I gave myself a time limit and checked my phone every so often to make sure I would get home in time to cross off other items on my list. But, once again, the surrounding silence got to me. I’ve been walking the trails through this particular park since I was a child. I know all the paths, even the ones that are overgrown and unused. I didn’t have a phone or time limits then. I knew better how to pay attention. To the sound of deer walking through the woods. To the smell of the grass and wildflowers in the heat. To the rays of sun shooting through the leaves, making them glow. I stopped checking the time on my phone and let myself remember what it’s like to pay attention.
The revelation of my fast this week was one word: control.
As I let go of time and my own agenda there in the woods, I saw plainly the source of my exhaustion—my need to control my own life. I design strict standards for myself and my family. I make lists and plans and rules. It’s my responsibility to have everyone’s best interests in mind at all times. God is on his throne and I am god.
But there in the woods, I saw just how much I’ve been missing. Being in control means I am too busy and distracted and responsible to pay attention, even to the beating of my own heart, or to my body trying to tell me to just slow down and rest.
So here’s the truth…
The truth is, motherhood is freaking hard. Immigration is incredibly stressful. Culture shock is a bitch. And I’m not very good at being god.
There it is, my weakness, the hidden, controlled source of my exhaustion. As I admit it and own it, I feel myself exhale.
On my agenda: lose control and take the day as it comes. There are things I would like to do, things I need to do. But at what cost? None are as important as paying attention and hearing my heart.
I realize that I’ve started a process that will take more than just a blog post to complete. So please, tell me your thoughts…
What does it look like to lose control?
How do you turn off distractions and pay attention to the meaningful details of life?
Where do you find rest?