“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” – Blaise Pascal
I don’t know when it happened, but it happened:
At some point this nagging, bitchy mini-dictator moved into my head and would NOT stop talking.
“You could have said that better, Stacey.”
“You could have done that better, Stacey.”
“You could have handled that
This was the song in my life.
Well, of course it was — because when you think you’re not enough, everything could have been “Better, Stacey.”
But here’s the thing: I didn’t know that the “not enough” belief lived inside of me.
I just thought I was a perfectionist who wanted to do things really well.
I thought I was diligent because I cared a lot.
I thought I mulled things over in my head a million times because I was conscientious.
I had NO idea that I was being tormented by a low-level thought about myself and that it was stealing my peace.
You see, I had a lot of crazy things happen when I was a kid — between dealing with a crazy home life that left me feeling insecure and over-responsible, as well as the secret abuses that happened outside of my home — and then, added to the punishing religious belief I found myself drawn toward…
All of those things ended up cementing deep in the recesses of my being:
You’re not enough.
When that thought is the foundation of your life, you’re not going to know who you are.
Your life becomes one big drive-by.
You race here.
You race there.
You eat when you’re sad
You clean when you’re mad
You jump on the phone for social media
Or a conversation with a friend when lonely
You turn on The Really Ridiculous Housewives of New Jersey or pick a fight with your spouse when you’re out-of-sorts
It’s one big game of distraction. All the time.
You just have to keep running. Really fast and really hard.
You know, like you’re being chased by a bear.
Because if you sit still
In a quiet room,
You will start to hear all the noise in your head.
That’s what happened to me.
I was running the water in our home in Upstate New York. We had just moved in and a neighbor came by warning me of the turbid water.
“Sometimes it’s so bad, we have to boil it and skim it. And don’t put your pretty blonde hair in it either — it’ll turn green.”
I rolled my eyes on the inside.
Seriously? We were living in a small village, yes, but not a third world country. Surely he was mistaken.
I went to make spaghetti for the fam and put the big pot under the running water. It looked fine. My neighbor was nuts. I filled the pot halfway and turned the water off so that I could fiddle with the old stove that took a little finessing in order to light.
When I went back to grab the pot and looked inside — it was all brown.
And I heard these words inside of me,
I look fine when I’m running.
But when I’m not…
I’m a mess.
I pulled a chair to the middle of the kitchen and sat down and started talking to God,
“How do I fix this? What do I do?
Is it more spiritual reading? More prayer? More forgiveness? More singing?”
(“Not enough” is always looking for ‘more.’)
And if you could hear the sound of God shaking his head, I heard it that night.
“No, Stacey. You just rest.”
So, I started sitting. Daily.
More like squirming really.
And complaining really.
As I took on a practice of resting and being still.
No books. No journals. No Bibles or Buddhas or Scriptures or anything.
In a room.
And that practice of stillness was like a big soup spoon in God’s hands.
Stirring the pot of what was living beneath the surface in me.
I saw how my arrogance was a cover-up for my insecurity.
How my judgment was a cover-up for my feeling out-of-control
How my pride was a cover-up for my fear.
And how my busy-ness and perfectionism were just a massive, freakin’ cover-up for feeling unworthy and not-enough.
I saw such horribly good things about me and I got freed to this place of peace inside of me.
Because I learned to accept me in new ways. I got to experience a fullness of love that I could never experience in my drive-by, being chased by a bear, kind of life.
I had to slow down for this one. And get still to see what was going on, and stay still longer in order to receive the love that was there for me all along.
That love gave me peace.
I knew how to be alone now, because I wasn’t afraid of me anymore.
But you know what? I got a bonus in the whole thing because peace has a best friend:
It’s called “Joy.”
One of the most beautiful pictures I have seen is in this quote by Frederick Brotherton Meyer
“Joy is peace dancing and peace is joy resting.”
When you have peace with yourself, you can have joy with yourself, too. You’re not living as serious as a heart-attack anymore. You can enjoy people around you and places you go.
Because when you’re not always running, you can be present to the present moment without feeling like a caged-animal anymore. You can just be there with your kids and your husband in new ways.
Why? Because you can be with yourself.
When you can do that, you will stop running. And you will also stop chasing after things that you think will bring you peace.
A spouse won’t bring you peace (trust me.)
A first child or another child won’t bring you peace.
Nor will the job or the money
Or the new car with leather seats
Or the concert tickets to Elton John
Or the house on the hill with a white picket fence.
None of those things will bring you peace because peace doesn’t live inside of them.
It lives inside of you.
And sometimes, you just need to be still enough to feel it.