My wife and I are trying something new: sitting still in a moment. It might not sound innovative or exciting, but it is against the grain of what society today does.
We’ve made a habit out of our busyness, so much so that it affects the culture of our mind. In moments when we choose to take it all in, we can’t. Instead, we think about what we can do next.
I’ve personally experienced this last week. I was on vacation in the Outer Banks—a time to sit still and soak up the moment. But instead, my mind was stuck on my busyness—how I could hit the ground running when I got back home.
This habit of thinking about what’s next also affects our daily activities. When we go places and sit with people, we can think of what we have to do next instead of connecting with the people we’re with.
By choosing to dwell on what’s next, we deprive ourselves of what’s now.
And that’s the biggest consequence of thinking ahead. Wrapped up in the present moment are tiny opportunities to grow ourselves and benefit the people around us. Yet too often, we exchange the satisfaction of stillness for the anxiety of busyness. We’re too used to moving that we end up not helping others and ourselves like we’re called to do.
The classic example of this in the Bible is with Jesus, Mary, and Martha (Luke 10). Mary chooses to sit still and enjoy Jesus. Martha chooses to worry about what’s next. Our culture would applaud Martha for thinking ahead and keeping busy, but Jesus endorses the actions of Mary. It is Mary who benefits others and herself.
We have the chance to be like Mary. But first, I believe it requires that we consider more consequences to the rushed and anxious lifestyle of the busy. Consider these few implications to thinking about what’s next:
1. When you think about what’s next, life becomes transactional.
While on vacation, my family and I went to a breakfast place one morning. The pancakes were so amazing, I asked our waitress to send the manager over so I could shake his hand. When he came over, I asked him, “Is it typical for people to discourage you because they come in and want breakfast only?”
He told me that it does get discouraging on Saturdays sometimes—when people come in and only want their breakfast and coffee.
This is what our consumerist, busy culture has done to us. It has made us people who pass through moments in a transactional matter—where we expect people to give us what we want and no more so we could go on to the next thing.
Here’s the problem with this though: we could walk away with so much more from the moment. And my interaction with the manager proves this. If I hadn’t sat still in the moment, I would’ve not realized the opportunity to gain encouragement from the manager. I would’ve just been focused on getting my pancakes and leaving.
There’s always more to a moment than we first realize.
The more we focus on what’s next, the more we only treat moments as a transactional experience—where we get what we come for. But what would it look like if we left with much more than we come for? It only happens when we sit still and dive deeper in a moment.
2. When you think about what’s next, you refuse to be grateful.
Do you ever notice people who choose to complain even in the midst of a great moment? They’re not even substantial complaints either. For instance, you could go to a restaurant and have the best service either, but you can complain about the forks or the crispness of your food.
I find that this happens more when we’re focused on what’s next. Simply put:
When we look to the next moment, we enjoy the current moment less.
This means we can find more reasons to be ungrateful.
But instead of doing this, let’s work to compliment rather than complain. Complimenting conveys our gratefulness. Complimenting shows we enjoy the moment. Compliment seeks to build people up rather than tear them down.
Complimenting is how we advance kindness and the common good around us. Complaining doesn’t.
3. When you think about what’s next, you become quick to anger and slow to peace.
Focusing on what’s next can make us angry. After all, it’s easier to snap at people and not see their point of view when you have somewhere to be.
But being still is the way of peace—the way that promotes good around us.
If you find yourself getting mad at others often, ask yourself: are you too focused on the next moment? Are you rushing yourself or being rushed? If so, slow yourself down. Be still, take a breath, and find the peace present in the moment. Moving will make us inattentive to the peace that could be had in a moment, but being still will help us notice it and use to our advantage.
So how does one be still? There are too many ways for me to discuss here, but the number one way I suggest to people is to value having a quiet time in the morning. Before you get going, set aside a time in the morning where you read your Bible instead of look at your phone. Looking at your phone will only grow your anxiety. Reading your Bible however will ensure you that God is in control. That reassurance will allow you to be still in the toughest, most hectic times.
Be still and know that He is God. In the busiest times, you are taken care of. There’s no need to worry about what’s next.