In my quest to live an intentional life I have found great power in the ability to slow down. As I slowed down and put more thought into each decision I was making I found it easier to know what to say yes to and more open to saying no if needed. I have been amazed at the time I have found to get all of my top priority items done. My top 4 priorities everyday are:
1. Personal study/feeling a connection with my Savior
2. My family & their needs
3. Me time
How I go about those top priorities changes from day to day. Sometimes my personal study is straight from the scriptures, other times it is listening to a General Conference talk. The needs of my family change from day to day of course. Me time is sometimes an hour to myself at night and other times it is just doing something nice for myself here and there throughout the day. Service is sometimes something more time consuming like helping something with a project, or babysitting their kids, bringing someone a meal and other times it is simply texting someone to let them know I’m thinking of them or checking in with a family or friend I know is going through a hard time.
I still have other items on my to do list each day…bake bread, go to lunch with friend, vacuum, grocery shopping, etc; but as long as I have those top 4 priorities done each day, I don’t care what else I crossed off on my list. Everything else can be bumped back a day or two if needed.
The greatest thing you can do to live an intentional life and to realize what is worth your time and what isn’t, comes when you discover the power there is in stillness. Another way to word it: meditate. So often we think that meditating or finding time to “be still” has to be this long drawn out thing and so we push it off because, “who has time for that?!” Well the good news is we can all find time for that because it doesn’t have to be a long meditation…it can be a moment (or two) of stillness.
Stillness, for me, is sitting in silence (as much silence as I can get with 6 kids) and being aware of everything around me. The noises around me, what I’m feeling physically, what I’m feeling emotionally, what my thoughts are, and my reaction (physically and emotionally) to those thoughts. As you begin to pay attention to these feelings you can learn where your focus needs to be. Sometimes I only have a couple of minutes of stillness before my next responsibility comes knocking. I have found the better I am at prioritizing and making intentional decisions and commitments for myself and my family, the more time I have for stillness. I am to the point now that at least a few days a week I can find 30 minutes a day to just be still. Think. Reflect. Feel. Evaluate, and adjust if needed. On busier days I may still only find a few moments here and there but I CAN still find time to “check-in” with myself.
I strongly recommend if you are realizing you need to reprioritize what is deserving of your time and what isn’t that you commit right now, to take a couple of days where after each activity, you reflect on how you feel after doing that task. Is it something that serves a purpose? Is there a way you could go about it that would make it more enjoyable? Is it something you could live without? You’ll be amazed how much you can learn about yourself and your needs when you find just a few minutes here and there throughout your day to reflect, contemplate and reevaluate. Listen to your body. Listen to your mind. And most importantly, listen to your spirit.
The greatest blessing that comes from stillness is the ability to be acutely aware of not only your surroundings and your physical well being but your spiritual well being. In the scriptures we are taught that the Lord speaks to us “not in the wind nor the earthquake nor the fire, but in a still, small voice”. (1 Kings 19:11-13). He doesn’t shout, he whispers. I know when there is chaos in my house, if I only whispered my children would not be able to hear me unless THEY made the choice to calm down, be still, and listen. We are no different. We can not ask Him to speak louder. To shout our next move to us. We must be still to receive His guidance.
Perhaps one of the most well known scriptures that talks about the importance of stillness is Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God”. That is a beautiful verse but it is important to remember what it speaks of just before that verse. “Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof…The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved..the earth melted…” (Psalm 46:3-9) Then we come to that beautiful verse where we are told to be still. “Be still, and know that I am God…The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.” (Psalm 46:10-11)
You see, the horrible things around us may not stop, our burden and trial may not be removed but if we can learn to be still, we CAN feel Him and we can receive the peace we seek. He can be our refuge THROUGH the storm.
As you make a conscious effort to live with more intent, I have no doubt you will find more time for your top priorities. Make sure one of those top priorities is finding time for stillness. Draw closer to your Savior and watch as everything else in life falls into place. Not always neatly, life may not always be pretty, and it may even at times still be really hard…but you’ll be amazed with the peace you can feel, even through the darkest of days, and the closeness you can feel to our Savior at anytime, when you are simply…still.