Joy in the Stillness

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Be still, and know that I am God. — Psalm 46:10 (NIV)

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a high-energy, ambitious person. When I was a little girl, my idea of a great time was to start with an idea, create something with my hands, and follow it through to the end. I made lemonade stands in my driveway and elaborate Barbie mansions out of my mom’s old perfume boxes. I put on plays with my cousins (complete with refreshments and playbills). I was full speed ahead all the time, working and worrying, trying, creating, and adventuring.

It’s no wonder my grandmother used to tell me, “Emily, just be still!” (referring to Psalm 46:10—and also literally telling me to slow down, probably for fear that I’d knock something over). Her real message didn’t sink in until I was much older.

As an adult, I’ve learned I have a tendency to make myself busy, run on adrenaline, and miss the in-between moments of quiet. And I’m not alone.

As a society, we’ve lost the ability to be still in our minds.

We live in a world of more, faster, and extra, so we feel like we need to respond more, faster, and extra. We find every reason in the world to fill our hands and minds with more stuff, with no breaks from distraction. We even take our phones to bed with us.

As a small business owner, I get it. I built my business from the ground-up, working my Corporate America job by day and nurturing my fledging design business deep into the night until, three years later, I could say goodbye to Corporate America. And I do love my work. I love creating tools that help women manage their lives, to find ways to make margin in their days so they can enjoy the good stuff of life. Ironically, for years I’ve struggled to find ways to make the good stuff of my life a priority and let the extra commitments happen as they may, rather than the other way around.

But I had to learn the hard way that even I have a max capacity.

Shortly after the most transformational day of my life — the day I became a mama — I found myself pacing around my house, cradling my crying newborn in one arm and taking client calls with the other. My steps were heavy after another sleepless night, but my heart was heavier — because I wanted to do it all. Surely I could have a made-from-scratch dinner on the table at six while running my company and rocking my baby at the same time — and do it ALL with perfectly curled hair and six-inch heels.

I mean, everyone else was doing it… right?

But that day, I said no more. I tearfully spilled my heart to a friend and decided enough was enough — and

I committed to holding myself to a standard of grace, not perfection.

And something amazing started to happen: I began to give myself permission to give in to the mess. To a Type-A perfectionist, this is nothing short of miraculous.

When life became overwhelming, I threw my hands in the air (literally, at times) and let the good stuff win. When work and motherhood became too much, I took time off or put the laptop away so I could stomp in mud puddles outside with my children. When laundry mounted and housework screamed my name, I left the madness behind and went to the park for a picnic instead.

I began to learn that in those messy moments I felt like my realest self. I wasn’t hustling to make something happen. Instead I was I was making margin in my day, just being still and drinking in the moments. I was choosing the good life. And when I gave perfection a rest and gave myself permission to just be still, my mess got a lot more manageable.

Our kitchen counters may not be spotless, but the drips of ice cream came from an impromptu late-night sundae party, so I’ll happily wipe them up.

My shirt may be wrinkled when I walk into the preschool classroom, but that’s because we had a tickle fight on the couch before we left.

We may not have been on a fancy date in three years, but we’ve enjoyed many a good cappuccino on the front porch with the baby monitor in hand.

I’m not good at baking beautifully decorated cookies for a birthday party, but I’m really good at thinking them up and ordering them from people who are (and that’s a talent in and of itself, right?).

We might be scrambling to get out the door every morning because of three little bodies to dress and feed, but on some days we worried we’d never have even one little one, so I’ll savor the scramble.

Life may be messy, but the mess is worth it.

I still fight against my fast-paced, overachieving nature every single day. I fight the urge to take on anything and everything. But then I remember that perfection is overrated, because God loves me where I am and exactly who I am in this moment. And He’s put joy in the mess, the circus, and the seventh load of laundry if you allow yourself to be still enough to see it. Identify those areas of your life that are overflowing, and do something about them. Unsubscribe. Uncommit. Slow down.

Be still.

We have a gift right now, in this moment. It’s an opportunity to welcome God’s grace and free ourselves from the traps of self-labeled inadequacies. Now is your chance to tell yourself the truth:

You are measuring up. You are doing a good job. You, just as you are, are enough. Enough for yourself. Enough for God. And enough for the ones you love.

As my grandmother would say, be still, sweet girl. Be still and listen. Let God’s truth resonate in your life just as it is.  Not one day when your house is clean. Not one day when all the laundry is put away. Not when the time is right. But right now. God’s grace is all around you, highlighting the little joys and tiny blessings we may not always recognize. He wants to show them to you; all you need to do is be still.

Original writing for Devotionals Daily by Emily Ley, Grace Not Perfection.

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Your Turn

Today, let’s take notice of God’s grace in our lives. Let’s recognize that He’s been so good to us as we slow down and enjoy all the beauty He’s created for us. Come join the conversation on our blog. We want to hear from you about the spiritual practice of being still! ~ Devotionals Daily

Emily Ley

Emily Ley is Founder and Creative Director of Emily Ley Paper & Gifts. She is also the creator of the bestselling Simplified Planner—a daily agenda for what matters most. Raised in Pensacola, Florida (home of the most beautiful beaches you ever did see), Emily graduated from the University of West Florida with degrees in English, creative writing, and public administration and then went on to become the executive director of the city ballet. From there, she worked in nonprofit management and public relations before launching her brand in 2008. Following the success found at its online home, EmilyLey.com, the Emily Ley brand quickly grew to be carried in over 500 retail outlets across the United States and around the world. Emily has been recognized with numerous awards, including Best New Product—Desktop (for the 2015 Simplified Planner®) at the National Stationery Show as well as Top 10 Designers to Watch in 2015 by Stationery Trends Magazine. Now as a businesswoman, wife, and mama to three, Emily enjoys Friday pizza parties on the living room floor, strong cappuccinos with her college-crush-turned-husband, and making memories to savor for a lifetime with her twins and preschooler.

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