As the mother of four teenage daughters, I rarely take the time to relax. But this past week we enjoyed a short break from the busyness of our regular schedule, and I found myself sitting on the front porch with nothing to do. As I savored the quietness of the afternoon, I began to feel guilty for not doing anything productive. But soon I warmed to the activity and began to reap the benefits of sitting.
Since people rarely take the time to sit anymore, they may not realize that inactivity has benefits. I've discovered four R's of doing nothing: relaxation, relinquishment of worries, reflection, and rejuvenation.
Relaxation. Our bodies were not created to be run into the ground. If your life is like that of most women, you get up at the crack of dawn to get some housework done and a quick workout in before the rest of the family fills the house with chaos. Then you're off and running from one thing to the next, without much time in between to think.
Just as we maintain our cars with a regular oil change and tune-up, our bodies also need some preventive maintenance. My grandma must have realized this because she always tried to eat right, take a daily walk, and spend a little time "sitting for a spell" on the porch.
True tranquillity cannot occur while sitting in front of the TV; the stimulation is enough to keep real relaxation at bay. In order to reap the benefits of doing nothing, you must do just that-nothing!
Relinquishment of worries. As you relax, you'll feel those muscles begin to unwind and your mind will wander. Most likely your thoughts will rest on some problem you may be wrestling with. If you give yourself a chance, your mind may move past the difficulty and allow your imagination to work its wonders, relinquishing the worries that stifle creativity. After awhile one good idea after another will "pop" into your head. Maybe it's a great new meal plan, the perfect color scheme for that hard-to-decorate space, or a punishment bound to be added to the "Hall of Fame of Discipline."
Whatever the inspiration is, it almost certainly will come as you sit idle. Not only do creative ideas flow as a result of doing nothing, but many times a solution to that nagging problem will present itself like a gift tied up in a colorful bow. It's as if the voice of God cannot get through the buzzing busyness as we rush through our days. He patiently waits for us to stop and "sit for a spell," allowing His voice to be heard. It's as if the lines of communication are opened, with no distractions to block the flow.
Reflection. As problems fade into the periphery of your consciousness, reflections of days gone by and the possibilities of days ahead fill the void. Sometimes a walk down the path of memories is just what a frazzled soul needs. Remembering good times, lessons learned, and friendships forged helps to keep present-day frustrations in perspective. Nothing is better for getting you through a bumpy spot in the journey of life than to revisit old potholes that were successfully negotiated.
It's easy to forget all the blessings our lives are filled with when our only concern is getting to the bottom of the pile of laundry between trips to various activities. But focusing on family, friends, and God for a few brief moments has a way of shedding light on the present and leads to a refreshed spirit.
Rejuvenation. After "sitting for a spell" on that quiet day this past week, my spirit felt rejuvenated and ready to take on any task my family could throw my way. Many people spend thousands of dollars at an expensive spa in order to reach this refreshed state of mind, but sometimes all they really have to do is spend a little time doing nothing.
The laundry will always be there, so learn a lesson from my grandma and take the time to sit a spell.
Cindy Boose writes from Fort Lewis, Washington, where she is the wife of a soldier and the mother of four teenage daughters.