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Stop Skimming Through Life

May 9, 2012

I sometimes feel as if I have been skipping along some superficial turf for the past several years.

The frenetic pace of my brain has been like a pinball machine rather than grounded, fertile well-plowed spiritual soil. That hamster wheel in my head is constantly churning, getting things checked off the never-ending to-do list with a growing resistance to stop all the doing and just be.

It’s like I’ve been a mile wide and an inch deep.

My prayers have been brief – check the box and move on. And reflective reading, well, it’s lost its status in the shuffle of other priorities. Stacks of journals and books pile up on my desk, only to get shelved or recycled after several weeks upon the realization that I am just never going to get to it.

Introspective, soul-wrenching journal writing has also sorely fallen by the wayside as I instead choose to blog, which is possibly the only outlet I have lately to process my life, spiritual or otherwise. And everyone knows that no one actually reads blogs, they skim. That’s how things are done in internet life. Surface skimming, snippets and bytes. I fear that skimming is bleeding over into the rest of my life.

This short attention span is not building me into the wise, grounded leader that I envision for myself. The constant mind-chatter depletes my ability to get and stay spiritually centered. It chips away at my spiritual core, my ability to be fully present.

If you are always skimming, never slowing down for solid periods of reflection, how will you ever listen to what your life is telling you?

How will you be able to notice the small, simple signs around you?

How will you be able to know what that ache in your back is saying?

How will you become aware of God’s gentle nudging telling you that He’s going to do something new with your life?

So, after attending the super-awesome recharging “Fully Present Leader Summit” last weekend at Princeton’s Theological Seminary with my friends from A New Equilibrium, I have decided to commit more time towards two things that will build more depth in my life: prayer, and reading.

I am reclaiming the reflective time, rediscovering the stillpoint of my life. I will carve out greater periods of stillness in prayer. To sit down more often for a slow read with a good book.

I may not show up so much online. But I’ll be showing up for myself, which will be far better for everyone.

Thanks to Nance Davis for the image.

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18 Comments leave one →
  1. May 9, 2012 5:53 am

    Wow… that is the culture that we are all living in; frenetic pace that creates a people with a very short attention span and not much depth. I’m coming into the deep places too. Makes me think of how the temperature in water changes when you swim into the deep places. A place of coolness away from the mob. Great post and certainly sounds like it was a great conference.

    • May 11, 2012 5:42 pm

      What a nice analogy, with the swimming in deep places. I know exactly what you mean. Except it not only gets cooler, but also less comfortable than the warmth of the more shallow parts. Could that be part of the analogy too? When you go deep, you may not be as comfy and warm as it is on the surface. Hmm.

  2. May 9, 2012 6:11 am

    I saw Bob this morning who said that he also had wonderful experience at the event. Sorry I missed it and thank you for sharing this post. We all could benefit from slowing down to focus on what is truly important.

  3. May 9, 2012 7:43 am

    A craving for stillness, for depth seems to be near-epidemic.

    Peace to you.

    • May 11, 2012 5:44 pm

      Peace be with you, too, Sheila. Rumor has it you’re in Hawaii right now — I have no doubt you are finding some peaceful quiet on the white sands, listening to the pounding surf. Dig you heels in deep!

  4. nancy permalink
    May 9, 2012 11:23 am

    Your blog is one i choose not to skim. I read it with careful thought, because of who you are and what you have to say. I don’t care how often you write and post. I just read it when you do. I consider you a friend. And you are one of a few people that blog that i feel that way about. You have a special way about you that endears you with people.

    I especially love the way that you express yourself with poetry.

    I know that we all crave depth in this life that can leave us feeling like we just touch the surface. But, God has a way of taking surface touching deeper than we may know.
    Though i do realize how some things in our life can lead away from others that we consider better to pursue.

    We are continually living, changing, and looking at choices. And yet, there is one constant that must remain. We must choose to remain in the Lord, as He is our guide in life; and we must choose Love for Him and for others.

    It is great that you plan to be taking time for stillness and time to reflect, reading, writing on paper, yes, time to just “be.”

    • May 11, 2012 5:45 pm

      Thanks, Nance, for such beautiful words of encouragement. Yes, this is a time of choice, change and looking for that still small voice of the Spirit for discernment and guidance.

  5. Tim Stewart permalink
    May 10, 2012 7:58 am

    I enjoyed the Summit as well. It is always good to be around other brothers and sisters who are earnestly attempting to live their lives in a godly manner. I’m convinced of the great need for those whose vocation is in upper management to understand and be intentional about being centered in their faith. When they do, they are able to lead others in a much more effective, and holistic way, in the workplace and beyond. That effort takes much more than skimming for sure!

    • May 11, 2012 5:46 pm

      Well said, Tim. So excited to see you visiting (and even COMMENTING!) on the blog! Hopefully will see as much of you here as I see you in Starbucks? 🙂

  6. May 10, 2012 3:55 pm

    Excellent post, Bradley, that describes all-too-familiar pitfalls. It calls to mind my favorite anecdote from Joseph Cardinal Bernardin’s great book The Gift of Peace. He was a successful churchman in his mid-40s when he confessed to some young priests that his hectic schedule never left room for prayer anymore. They challenged him to live up to his reputation as a holy man. He responded by carving out the first hour of the day for prayer for the rest of his life. Here’s hoping your new efforts are as enriching for you as they were for him.

    • May 11, 2012 5:48 pm

      Isn’t amazing that even those in ministry struggle with the same prioritization issues? I like this story, because it shows the degree of commitment and habit that must be formed in order to get what we need. I blew this off for too long, and I want it back. It’s my choice, and mine alone. Thanks for the encouragement, Stephen.

      PS – Just got your book in the mail yesterday. It’s one of the “deep reflective” readings I am going to dig into! I’m really looking forward to it.

  7. charitysingleton permalink
    May 10, 2012 6:51 pm

    What a breath of fresh air – I am feeling the need for this myself. I came home from work tonight really tired, mostly mentally, and yet I didn’t feel like I could take the time to spend reflecting, meditating or reading. Yet, I think that would have been best. We place a lot of the wrong expectations on ourselves, don’t we? I hope I can commit to these things with you. You’re right – it will be better for all of us when we slow down that way.

    • May 11, 2012 5:50 pm

      Charity, I believe there is something real and true about not feeling up to it at certain times, and that is part of knowing ourselves, the rhythm of the day, of our biology. For me, it MUST be in the morning, because I am very tired and iffy towards the end of the day. I simply am not in the mood, and I think that’s okay. But for me, the mornings are the time to commit.

  8. May 10, 2012 9:29 pm

    This sounds like wisdom: the slowing down, the reading, the praying.

  9. May 11, 2012 12:33 pm

    I’ve been going through a lot of the same lately. We’ve got to constantly juggle our priorities and go through a zero-based budgeting session for our time. Sometimes things that used to have value just don’t anymore.

  10. May 19, 2012 7:40 pm

    So good! And your consequences were not ones I thought of. I need this reminder right now, just for the mind racing. I need to sit outside with a book.

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