Three years ago, in the month of May to be exact, I dedicated my summer to something I called, “My Summer of Silence and Surrender.” I did this because I have the tendency to be pre-occupied with making things happen. For those of you who don’t know me, I come from a world of believing that I must make something happen everyday in order to get one step closer to achieving my goals and dreams. That’s what we’re taught, right? The world tells us that life is all about succeeding and making something out of ourselves. While there’s nothing wrong with wanting to be successful, success has a way of becoming an idol in our lives, at least it has in mine.
When I recommitted my life to Christ, I was in the 6th year of pursuing my acting career. I think I’ve mentioned in a previous post how my career became my idol, and after a certain amount of time, I realized the tugging on my heart to pursue God was much greater. At the same time, old habits die hard, and I still get caught up spending a good amount of time feeling like I’m not doing enough. Normally, when people feel like this, they do more, but what do I do? I stop and spend even more time listening for the direction of God.
During this summer of silence and surrender three years ago, I never felt more in-tune with the Lord than I did then and every area of my life seemed to flourish. I was physically healthier, more mentally focused, and the ability to write what was on my heart and mind just flowed effortlessly. In Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus addresses his disciples and the multitude surrounding him about their worries, or chasing after the things of the world (this is a long passage to be quoting, but trust me, the entire passage is relevant):
25“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
28“So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
31“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
The world has a way of making us believe if we’re not living a life of hustle and grind, we’re not living. When in reality, life is supposed to be the exact opposite. God never put us here on this earth so that we could be so distracted by the busy-ness of chasing goals. As a matter of fact, when we’re in alignment with what He wants us to be doing, we honestly don’t have to work that hard! Imagine that!
In short, Jesus wasn’t lying when he said “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” What he means is, “Focus on being in relationship with me, getting to know me, and everything else in your life will flow out of this relationship, naturally and peacefully.” I often talk to some of my friends about the difference between BEING and DOING When we’re focused on BEING who God created us to be, the DOING flows naturally from that BEING. But if we’re so focused on DOING what we want, then the ability to BE is manufactured and not necessarily true to who we are. Our BEING becomes shaped from what we DO versus who we’re truly meant to BE. That’s how we end up with a world full of people who define themselves by their careers. I know because I was one of those people. I defined myself by my artistic career. “I am an ACTRESS!” I capitalized “actress” to show the ridiculousness with which I stated it.
Now, I know what you’re probably thinking. You’re either thinking, 1. “Stephanie, your whole speech on ‘Being vs. Doing’ is confusing as heck!” Or, you’re thinking 2. “Stephanie, this sounds great and all, but how do I get to that place of ‘being’?” Well, I could say it’s simple, but if you’re a busy body like me, then it can be hard at first. With that being said, here’s my answer: Make an honest effort daily to surrender your will to the Lord. How do you do that? Well, this can look different for everyone as far as how to go about it, so the best I can do is share my way with you and pray that you can adjust it however you need to.
When I wake up, no matter how busy my day is scheduled to be or what I have to do, I make some coffee, then I pull out my bible and my journal and I spend time reading, journaling, and praying. You’d be surprised at the things God places on your heart and mind during this time. This is an everyday thing, with the exception of a day or two that I sleep too late (and trust me, I have those days). During my Summer of Silence and Surrender however, I take it a step further. In addition to the time I spend with God, aside from the work I already have scheduled to do, or things I’m already committed to, I’m not spending my free time trying to come up with new projects, new book ideas, business ideas, etc. I’m very entrepreneurial minded, so for me not to be thinking of new ways to expand my Ghostwriting business, or coming up with ways to create multiple streams of revenue is highly unusual. But here’s the thing: I know from experience that when we’re so pre-occupied with these things, there’s no room in my mind for God to download His ideas and His plans.
Now I know another thing you may be thinking, “Stephanie, how do you know all of those ideas you have aren’t from God?” Well, I didn’t say they weren’t. Sometimes they are, but sometimes these ideas I have may be for another time and not for me to act on immediately. But I wouldn’t know this if I didn’t take the time to slow down and hear from God. Another great way to determine whether or not the ideas I’m having would be more of a distraction than a help at that point in my life is to gauge how much I’m having to force them to come to fruition. If I’m having to inconvenience my life in a way that leaves zero room for anything else, chances are either the timing or the idea itself is off. This doesn’t mean that everything God gives you an idea for should be super easy, but it also shouldn’t be next to impossible to bring to fruition.
I know I went off on a little bit of a tangent, but my point is: don’t be afraid to set aside the way you think things should be going in order to hear and see if God has a different or better way for you to go about accomplishing things in your life. So again, if you’re anything like me and you feel you constantly have to be doing something, try stopping. You don’t have to dedicate an entire summer to it like I am. Try just a week, or even 3-4 days, and work your way up to more time. Because, here’s the beautiful thing about God: the more of your time and mind you surrender to Him, the more He’ll reveal His plans for your life to you, and things start to unfold naturally. You won’t have to force ideas and ways of getting things done to come about. If what you’re desiring to do falls in line with God’s will, the work will be much easier than it ever was before.
I hope what I’ve said here makes sense. If not, like I said in my last post, feel free to email me or leave me a comment. I wish you much peace for the rest of your week, and I pray that peace comes from doing absolutely nothing, well, nothing extra.