Last week I wrote about what I learned during Lent. And today I wanted to share about something else that I learned during those weeks. Towards the beginning of Lent I was feeling restless. Antsy might be a good way to put it. Sitting still was hard. And all of the normal activities that I enjoy couldn’t hold my attention.
Why am I so restless? I wondered. It wasn’t a pleasant feeling. So I was determined to get to the bottom of it.
Here are some thoughts on why we might have a restless spirit:
Perhaps God wants to tell us something. A couple of years ago I heard a sermon by Dr. Charles Stanley on the radio in which he talked about restlessness. He pointed out a story in the book of Esther. “That night the king had trouble sleeping, so he ordered an attendant to bring the book of the history of his reign so it could be read to him.” (Esther 6:1) Could it be that this sleepless night was divine intervention? When the king read the book, he discovered that a man named Mordecai had exposed a plot to kill the king. Mordecai’s good deed went unnoticed at the time. But now that the king was aware, he planned to reward him. (There is a lot more to the story than that. If you never read the book of Esther, it is a quick read and intriguing as well. You can find it here.) But this story points out that sometimes in our restlessness, God is trying to get our attention.
Maybe we are too distracted. In the Martha and Mary story found in Luke 10, Martha was distracted in preparing dinner. She wanted to make a good impression for Jesus, who was a guest at their house that day. But her distraction caused restlessness, and she missed out on quality time with the Messiah. While this particular scene was a temporary distraction, in our current culture we live in a state of constant distraction. Something is always dinging or pinging on our phones. We cannot remove ourselves from being accessible. I think the constant chaos definitely plays a role on our frayed nerves. Learning to lay down distractions, one by one, can help free us from the agitations we feel.
Sometimes the answer is obvious. It could be that we are worried about something. Often when we have a big issue we are facing, it is hard to think about anything else. We cannot reel our minds in, because we are too busy concocting a variety of “what ifs.” In such cases, the best thing to do is pray. 1 Peter 5:7 tells us to “Cast all your anxiety on [God] because He cares for you.” What a comfort it is to know that we can hand our troubles over to the Lord, because He cares about us and He cares about everything we are going through.
There might be other reasons why we are feeling restless. And it might take some time in prayer to figure it out. I had to pray about my situation and God gave me the answer pretty quickly. He told me that I needed quiet time in my day. When I say “quiet time,” I actually mean it two ways.
One way refers to literal sound. I am an introvert and an HSP. In case you are not familiar, an HSP stands for highly sensitive person. An HSP is easily overwhelmed by a lot of sensory overload. It’s not just noise. It’s all the senses. For example, certain strong smells might give me a headache. Check out this website if you want to see if you might fall into this category.
So this means that usually a person like me thrives on peace and quiet. I realize that some people actually like a lot of noise, those who need to have the TV or radio on all the time.
However, when I say quiet time, I am also referring to time with God. My Bible reading time had been rushed, due to various circumstances. And I wasn’t taking the time to relax in the Lord’s presence. Even when I was exercising, I was multitasking by reading my emails and such while I moved my feet. All of this was causing extra jitters. I learned that in order to find peace, I had to intentionally seek peace. I had to be deliberate about carving quiet time into my day. My solution was to get up earlier in the day, so that I had time before the rest of my household got up. This space in my day and time with God was comforting and helped me to start my day in a better frame of mind.
I have learned that what we feed ourselves first thing in the morning can dramatically change our day. If we reach for social media or email first thing, then our day might feel scattered. But if we reach for things that refresh us, this will help us to face the day with peace and productivity.
Quiet time, especially quiet time with the Lord, can help shape our days and bring peace into our hearts. He fills us like no other. All the other things that we reach for will only give us temporary satisfaction. It’s like eating a piece of candy. It might taste good in the moment, but it will soon leave our stomachs growling for more. But when we reach for Jesus, the bread of life, we will find true satisfaction and fulfillment.
For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. ~ Psalm 62:1 ESV
You move us to delight in praising You, because You have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless until they can find peace in You. ~ St. Augustine
© 2022 Bridget A. Thomas