Today started really no different than most days. I had my coffee with Jesus, meditating on some scripture from Matthew. It was sweet. It was peaceful. Calm. Then I heard little feet in the hallway above my head so I knew that the day was officially beginning. Chaos.
I had a to-do list going in my mind- I needed to take my son to preschool, I needed to meet with a friend, I needed to homeschool my girls, I needed to go to the store, I needed to answer a list of emails that I had been putting off for days, I needed to sit with my son during speech therapy, I needed to make dinner for a friend and my family, I need to fold the laundry that had been sitting there for a week and I needed to write this blog post. Busy, yes, but pretty normal for us. For some reason though, as the morning got rolling, questions and chatter coming at me full force from the people I love most, I found myself taking a lot of deep breaths and reaching for my chest, trying to calm myself down.
Phillip had just left when I looked at the time and realized that I had 10 minutes to get ready and get out the door. I started to race around yelling at everyone to hurry up. Of course, that was the exact moment that my 2.5 year old spilled a full cup of water (thankfully) all over the floor, the dog was barking at the door, my son was running around, crying because he couldn’t find his something special enough for his special day at school and my girls were asking what their school assignment was for the day. Chaos.
I ran upstairs and started to straighten my hair, while trying to kindly and patiently ask my boys to let me get ready alone. All the things that I had to do were swirling in my mind when all of the sudden, “POW!” The straightener flashed bright in my hand, shooting sparks at my head. I threw it on the counter while pushing my son out of the room and quickly unplugging it. He screamed because I screamed and pushed him. Chaos.
What do you do when chaos is not only happening around you but also happening in your mind? How do you get back to a place of calm without throwing in the towel and walking out the door?
While today’s circumstances were unique for today, this wasn’t an abnormal occurrence for us and I’m sure it’s not an abnormality for you either, unless you live in Pleasantville and never have anything happen to you! It’s life. The good, the messy, the beautiful, the ugly. It is life. Kind of reminds me of what I wrote about last week – Life Happening.
While I know that we all would love to be able to predict life, we can’t so what do we do when you are telling yourself to take deep breaths and your hand instinctively goes to your chest?
This is not a perfect list, but as I thought about what I do to restore calm to my mind, I recognized a few things that I do every single time and I thought I would share them with you.
1. Pray. I know this sounds so simple and almost silly but I have noticed a marked difference when I immediately pray and when I don’t. If you want to restore calm to your mind, your top priority should be prayer. It doesn’t have to be a perfect prayer with all the Christian-ese. Often, the more simple a prayer is, the more it reveals your heart. “Help me, Lord” is a prayer that I have uttered countless times. He always does. The circumstance doesn’t change in that moment, but I have an army of angels that have encamped around me and I have connected myself to the one who is Peace.
2. Make a list. I am a major list maker. I get it from my momma! When I got back from dropping my son off at preschool, I immediately sat down to make a list. When I make a list, I make it specific. For example, I don’t write “Email” on the list, I write, “Email John back.” It is specific and attainable. Not only am I specific about what I need to do, but if I have already done it, I still write it on the list! I want something to mark off immediately! If I already have something marked off from the get-go, I am more likely to do the next thing on the list. I also write ridiculously easy things to do on the list for the same reason. If I feel like I am achieving something, then I am more likely to keep going!
For some, tackling the hardest things first is the most beneficial, for me, it’s the opposite. Unless there is a looming deadline, then I check the easiest things off my list first. For example, I called to schedule a vet appointment for our dog before I emailed our pastor back about future scheduling dates. Yes, the email to my pastor was more important but the vet call was easier so that got crossed off first.
Again, this may sound so simplistic that it’s silly, but making a list is a way to get the swirling thoughts into one place. It’s a way to prioritize your day. It’s a way to feel like you are working towards a goal and accomplishing something. It’s a way to bring calm to the chaos.
3. Call someone. If motherhood has taught me anything, it’s that a call or a text to my husband or a friend is sometimes the only lifeline that gets me through the day. We weren’t meant to do life alone, we were made for relationship.
Just yesterday I got a text from a friend asking for prayer over the chaos she was dealing with at the moment. She didn’t need to give details, she just needed a buoy to cling to until she could get to a sense of calm again. And she needed someone to intercede for her.
I needed that today when I called my husband. He was pretty distraught when I said “flames were flying at my hair!” In reality, there weren’t flames, it was just sparks but I needed him to cling to, to intercede for me until I could regain composure enough to face the chaos and do something about it.
4. Dance. Yep, dance. Turn on your jam and dance your heart out. Something about an upbeat song and your body moving will motivate you to face the chaos differently. It motivates you to face it with energy, with gusto and with pep. If it’s a worship song that causes you to not just dance, but praise dance, then it’s a double whammy to the chaos.
Straight honesty here, my day continued to be chaotic. But it shifted. The chaos didn’t threaten to overtake me anymore. The chaos remained but the calm was in my mind because I had prayed, I had called my person, I had made a list and I had danced.
Next time when you are feeling chaotic, I hope you try these things and see if they help bring calm to your mind.
“The LORD himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.” Exodus 14:14
God, thank you that in the chaos, you are there.