When Quiet Is the Last Thing I Should Be

A few Fridays ago the prompt for the weekly link-up was quiet. I did write something on it, but it wasn’t my first draft. What ended up on the blog were not the thoughts I had initially when I pondered the prompt a bit.

My first ideas did not seem right at that time, but they have spooked around in my head for a while now and I feel like I have to share them, too. So here are some unscripted thoughts about me no longer wanting to be quiet.

I am a quiet person and very often that’s okay.

But lately I’ve been thinking that sometimes it’s maybe the last thing I should be.

With all the stress and busyness of life going on at the moment I find myself really out of touch with the news.
I scroll down newsfeeds and take in the headlines, but I can’t talk in depth about what’s really going on. There’s thousands upon thousands of refugees coming into the country each month, and I am just overwhelmed with everything that could or should be done.

I want to educate myself and break out of the quietness, but I am often too busy (and sometimes also lazy) to really do it.

With all the hills and valleys I’ve journeyed through in the last year my faith has changed quite a bit. It has grown and the process is not done yet.
I often find myself alone and unable to connect with what I used to call church culture. I don’t want to be awkward and weird, but I also can’t pretend to belong somewhere where I don’t feel right.

This is a challenge when you’re a worship leader and often have no idea what you’re supposed to do up on that stage.
I want to evolve and grow my roots deeper into God, but I am often too afraid to share this with the people I’m supposed to lead.


With all the growing up I’ve had to do in the last two years I often reached my limits. I just couldn’t go on anymore and had to learn that I need help. People who were allowed to see my messy apartment and to hear my confused thoughts. Places where I was allowed to just be and not accomplish anything. Friends who helped me to process out loud and discover a rhythm, rest and beauty again.
I want to grow in community and friendship, but I am often too ashamed to open up and let people in.

The world is not changed by people keeping quiet.

Things in our lives, in our world, in our churches won’t take a turn for the better if we don’t muster up the courage to share our struggles and doubts. Places can’t even begin to change if we don’t shed light on what went wrong in the first place. Hearts can’t be transformed if we don’t fight for new life and intimacy with all the hope and strength that’s left in us.

Here’s to change.
Here’s to speaking up and sharing myself.

[#write31days] Day 17 “Work First, Rest Later”

Welcome to Day 17 of #write31days! 
For more information check out the series’ page

On Thursday we talked about a lie that often keeps us from setting healthy boundaries. Today, we’ll look at another popular example.

Lie #2: Work First, Rest Later”
I am writing this post on a Saturday, weekend. A full week of work is behind me, and as I look at my apartment, there’s even more waiting for me. It seems like a battle is going on in my mind:
“Come on, it’s the weekend. Rest a bit.” – “But look at all the work, when else do I have time to do housework, clean, stow things away?”
“There’s always time for this, but this time is not now. Now you’ll relax and do something fun, then you can always work later on.” – No, let me first file these papers and do a bit of cleaning, then I can sit down.”
This happens several days per week, so this post is definitely for me. 🙂

I don’t advocate a “do nothing” attitude here. There is a time when you need to pull through and work; leaving things unfinished isn’t a good virtue either. Nevertheless, the “work first, rest later” argument is dangerous. Why? Because work never ends. There’s always more. Something small, something urgent. It never ends.
Why are we so inclined to use the THEN, LATER lie so often?

photo-1415370303892-4bfee9411b52Rest is for lazy people
This used to be a saying older people would tell younger ones when they struggled at work or wanted to give in. People who had grown up after the war had to rebuild their homes they could then relax in. As long as they were able and fit they would work, work, work. At a factory Monday to Friday, in their gardens or at their house during the weekend. Rest was something they didn’t really know, and maybe weren’t even allowed to long for. 
In Southern Germany where I live, especially, rest seems to carry a negative connotation.
Rest is for quitters. For people who can’t go til the end. For lazy ones who can’t persevere. For weak ones who don’t have what it takes.
This attitude is somehow instilled in us Germans, without any formal or conscious teaching. Social conventions are embedded deeply in our genes and lifestyles. And somehow this old saying and attitude has taken over the lives of managers, office workers, business people. Yes, even ‘ordinary’ people like you and me.
Rest is for the weak and the lazy. And we don’t want to be called that, right? So we better work, work, work. 

Interestingly, if you ask older people for advice what they would do differently in their lives, they say, “Don’t take work so seriously. Take a break and truly rest once in a while.” Our world is really upside down…

17bI can’t enjoy rest when work is still ahead of me

I always admire people who seem to have a special gift: they can turn their backs on work and simply look the other way. As if they were blind and work did not exist. Then they sit down and relax.
I am not one of these people.
I come home, and not matter how determined I am to sit down and rest – I just can’t. I see files to be stowed away, the dirty floor to be cleaned, laundry to be folded, emails to be written, calls to make.
There’s just so much more work ahead of me! As long as my to do list is full I can’t sit back and relax. My mind would not be able to shut down because all my thoughts would revolve around the things I still have to do. I would not be able to stop planning, thinking, and worrying.
The false conclusion I often draw from this, however, is to finish all my work first before I give myself some rest.
This doesn’t happen often because, as I said, when does work ever end?
If we don’t practice shutting off our minds and hearts once in a while we’ll never find true rest.

17dToo exhausted to rest
For a while we might be able to keep going, and rest ahead of us motivates us and pushes us forward.
But only for a while.
If we keep going and going, if we don’t stop working and thinking and worrying –  we won’t find rest in the end.
We’ll run out of energy and joy and love, we’ll burn out of passion and fire for what we do, and we will be too exhausted for rest.
We won’t know anymore what it means to rest, to refresh our soul with living water, to refill our mind with life-giving thoughts, to recharge our bodies with  supernatural strength.
Let’s not push til the very end, until we break down. Let’s have breaks in between, like a well in the desert, like a gas station in the middle of nowhere. Times and places that will help us recharge and refocus for the next step ahead.

Do you rest even though there’s still so much work to be done? What keeps you from letting work be for a while and rest for a bit? 

[#write31days] Day 15 “There’s No One Else”

Welcome to Day 15 of #write31days! 
For more information check out the series’ page

It’s the middle of the month and you might say: “Okay, I’ve heard a lot about boundary problems, I know why they are so important. I get it. But why is it still so hard to set boundaries?”
Good question. So let’s have a look at some of the lies in our heads that keep us from setting good boundaries.

Lie #1: There’s No One Else
I like to observe people, especially when they’re in bigger groups. Without even being aware of it, we all fall into specific roles. There are special groups dynamics and scenarios that seem to happen again and again.

Good work ethic and honesty is good. Being there for friends when they’re lonely is good. But there is a point of too much. There’s a point when we fall into the “no one else” trap.

17aThe overly responsible
Imagine a pile of work waiting to be completed and taken away. Maybe even some uncomfortable task. We all stare at each other, hoping someone will break before us and do the job already. We see others walking away pretending not to care (or maybe not pretending at all) and find ourselves left with this pile of work in front of us.
What do we do?
If you’re the overly responsible you will be the one staying late and doing the job. You feel like you can’t let your boss down and somehow the work needs to be done. No one wants to come back on Monday and see that pile of work waiting. And since all the others went home already, you’re the lucky one. It will be just this one time…maybe you’ve said this a lot of times already.

You don’t even have to leave your own house to find these dynamics. Who is the one cleaning the kitchen at night while the others watch TV? Who picks up the vacumer on Saturday because the apartment looks just too messy? Everyone in the family wants to have clean rooms, washed clothes, or food on the table, but not every one really feels responsible for it.
And so you work, and work, and don’t stop because someone has to do it.

We often associate this position with mothers, and mostly it’s true. But it can also relate to everyone else, we take patterns we learn at home with us. Patterns and roles we take on at work, with friends, with ourselves. 

17cAnd don’t we all have these experiences with friends or family members? “We need to hang out, I haven’t seen you in ages.”
“I need to talk to you because I can’t talk to anyone else.”
“If you don’t hang out with me I am all by myself and feel lonely.”
I can’t deny that I love good conversations, heart-to-heart with friends. I like to be there for friends and catch up after a while. And yes, it does sometimes feel good to be the go-to person for someone. The talk-to person, the good confidante.
But this can easily become a burden when you allow someone to completely rely on you. Instead of taking responsibility for themselves, your friends (or family members) let you carry them.
So you carry and you struggle with someone else’s problems because they have no one else. Apparently. Our extreme responsibility will tie us to others instead of teaching them to be responsible themselves.

The overly self-confident 
Sometimes it is also ourselves keeping us from setting boundaries. We can’t let go of something because we think we’re the only ones good at it.

“If I leave now everything will fall apart. All this hard work I did over the years will not continue because no one but me can really do the job.”

This might be true. We are all unique, we’ve all been given unique gifts and talents. We’re all called to serve God and others with them.

Some use their talents more, others less. Some seem to be allrounders and these people are great to have at work or at church. But it can also be really hard because talent can get into your head. “I’m good at something” can also lead to “I’m the best at something”. Once you start using the perfectionist measuring tape no one else can measure up. 
I have to admit that I’ve caught myself in these thoughts sometimes. Striving for excellence is a good virtue, judging others from your high horse of perfectionism is not. Not just because it’s not my position to judge, but because I lost sight of the origin. I don’t use my talent anymore to serve others, I draw attention, appreciation and maybe even self-worth from it. This won’t serve anyone but my ego. 
I can’t go on forever, there’s a time for everything. So when I leave someone else will take over. And yes, they will do it differently because they are different. Will they be better or worse than me? Not important, it will be different.

What is your attitude? Can you stop working even though there’s still a lot to do? Can you let go of something you’re really good at?