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Pause: Making Space for Your Soul in a Jam-Packed Day

Do you feel like you’re busy ALL the time? Our days are often filled to the brim with activity. Work. Chores. Kids. Sports. Volunteering. Friends. Exercise. The list goes on. The demands on our time can seem never-ending. We go from this thing to the next thing to the next thing, ad nauseam. Get a few hours of sleep and repeat. It’s exhausting!

And when we do find a break in our day, we often fill it with any of the things clamoring for our attention. Social media. News. E-mail. Texts. Phone calls. TV. Games. Articles. This is a long list too.

The demands on your time and attention wither the soul. Your soul was never intended to take on all the tragic news in the world, which is now at our fingertips in a heartbeat. Or to know everything that’s going on with all your friends via social media. Or to take in all the hate, vitriol and division that litters your screens. Never in the history of mankind has so much been demanded from us. Your soul needs room to breathe, to expand, to be anchored. How can we possibly do that in this noisy, ever-connected, attention-seeking, go-go-go world?

A simple but profound step is to pause. Just for one minute. Multiple times a day. It’s easiest in the transition after you’ve just finished something. Pause for a minute. Then go to the next thing. And in those sixty seconds, take a deep breath or two. Express gratitude for what you just finished. Then turn your heart to God as you go into the next thing.

For the most part, everyone can spare just one minute several times a day. Can you? 

  • When you pull into the garage from the grocery store, can you pause for a minute? Breathe. Maybe be thankful for the means to have bought those groceries. 
  • As you finish up a Zoom meeting, can you take sixty seconds? Take a deep breath; be grateful for the people on the call and for the technology to connect from a distance. 
  • After you come out of a difficult conversation, can you tap the brakes before moving on? Inhale. Exhale. Thank God that He was with you, and maybe ask Him what He wants you to take from that unpleasant interaction. 
  • Once you’ve finished folding the laundry, can you interrupt yourself? Appreciate a job well done; tell God you love Him; let Him love on you; thank Him for the clothes.

You get the idea. This is an easy way to apply Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God.” Just take an extended moment to stop, breathe and turn your attention to the One who sustains you and thank Him. Why?

  • Intentionally stopping begins to break the hold that busy-ness has on us. We pause to give our souls a much-needed break from life’s demands.
  • Breathing deeply helps relieve some stress and has a positive effect on the brain, the heart, digestion and the immune system.
  • Turning our hearts to God reorients us and often brings perspective to the day’s events.
  • Expressing gratitude has numerous benefits–physically, emotionally and relationally. Grateful people tend to be happier people.

Wouldn’t it feel great to be free from the “tyranny of the urgent” (as Charles Hummel describes it)? Pausing is a small step in that direction and virtually anyone can do it. Try it several times a day for a week and see what happens. Your soul will thank you.

As a matter of fact, why not pause right now before moving to your next thing? That’s what I’m going to do.

For more ideas on creating space for your soul, read John Eldredge’s Get Your Life Back: Everyday Practices for a World Gone Mad.

James Gray is a Licensed Professional Counselor who has worked in various settings providing a high level of care with individuals dealing with a wide variety of issues—major depression, severe anxiety, PTSD, psychosis, panic attacks, anger, burnout, suicidality, low self-worth, shame, grief, and boundary issues. He earned his Master of Arts in Professional Counseling from Amberton University in 2013.