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Keeping It Together, Alone

I'm hiding right now.

I'm in my bedroom, with my laptop propped on a pillow, trying to work. I spent the last half hour in my home office, only to be interrupted with endless requests for play dates (from my 7-year-old), repeated inquiries as to the whereabouts of blue princess shoes (from my 3-year-old), and whimpering cries for attention (mostly from my dog, but occasionally from my 11-year-old). So I retreated here in hopes of creating a few minutes of quiet.

The busier my life, the more I crave space. Not just physical space where I can be alone for a while, but mental space where I can form complete thoughts, create new dreams, contemplate broad ideas. Yet any extra room in my head seems filled with mental Post-it notes about dental appointments and phone calls I have to make, lists of items I need from Target, and the vague feeling I missed someone's birthday.

Of all the various kinds of busyness, this overflowing brain busyness is the hardest for me to handle. It makes me feel overwhelmed, even when nothing overwhelming is going on. I can be washing dishes or driving my car or trying to find my glasses and feel totally stressed out because my brain is running at 800 miles per hour. And if some poor soul chooses that particular moment to ask me a question, he gets a response that's not only snappish, but probably sarcastic and completely unhelpful.

I've tried making actual paper lists. I've delegated and planned and organized and updated and synched my day planners and calendars. But my little brain still feels jammed with too much information. (Remembered Blondie lyrics from the early '80s are surely taking up valuable real estate in there.)

The only way to manage my endless mental traffic has been to force myself into "brownout" mode. Like cities that switch to low voltage power for a few hours in order to prevent a blackout, I've started making time for "low voltage" thinking so I don't come undone. Sometimes my brownouts involve spending half an hour on my front porch with a magazine. Sometimes they mean taking the long route to buy me more time between the noise of home and the noise of work. And sometimes they include occupying the kids with paint and paper for a few minutes so I can hide in my room and think of as little as possible. Whatever the situation, I'm alone, just me and my brain, taking some time out.

Jesus often pulled away from crowds to gather his thoughts and calm his spirit. He'd get up early and pray alone (Mark 1:35). He'd escape from the demanding hoards by heading to the mountains (John 6:15) or withdrawing to lonely places (Luke 5:16). While Jesus cherished his relationships with friends, he also knew when he needed to be alone to recover from the endless demands on his time and energy.

Even though none of us faces the pressure of performing miracles, we all juggle the demands of being women who want to give and love and serve and succeed and enjoy the blessings in our lives. If that juggling act means taking a few minutes to hide from our blessings, that's OK. And now that my hiding spot is no longer a secret to a little girl in blue princess shoes, it's time for me to wish you a happy hiding spot of your own.

How do you create mental space for yourself and still the noise of life's demands?

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

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