I opened my laptop tonight to write about our generation’s struggle with peace and quiet amidst a barrage of distractions.
But before I could open WordPress, I logged into Facebook, maybe accidentally, and I found a few things to repost, read a blog link I found, looked at pictures, and then I realized…
I got distracted. I am the victim of the very thing I meant to talk about. I got distracted from talking about distraction.
It’s getting so bad lately. This compulsive instinct to connect with the digital universe. Everywhere. On my lunch break at work, any free moment I have between emails, phone calls, meetings and seeing patients. Even at stop lights. Yes, I get bored at stop lights. One minute is apparently too much for me.
It’s this overwhelming fear of boredom, I discovered. Lack of stimulation. I get anxious in those moments. Jittery. My hand reaches for the phone, for the iPad. For something to turn me back on.
It’s weird because I have a personal value for peace. I’ve gone on occasional silent retreats starting in high school, I regularly leave my radio off in the car, and I love to get away. Just me.
I’ve talked about it a few times, the process of losing myself to the noise and anger of competing with friends and total strangers…
If I had no one to compare myself with, would I feel like such a failure?
And then the trying to get myself back. I head to the quiet places, to waterside solace or a corner of a coffee shop, some place no one can find me.
I find quiet, the voice of God, the creative spirit. It all comes back.
But then there’s the seemingly impossible task of carrying the peace around with me. How to do that? How to visit peace and then take it home with you?
Peace isn’t a destination. It’s not like a restaurant, or a vacation getaway. It’s a state of mind. It’s a quiet confidence, a patience and humility that doesn’t get eroded or hurried by expectations or comparisons. It just does it’s own thing. At it’s own pace.
Jesus said he gives Peace unlike what the world offers. Our culture simply distracts me from my inadequacy with all the lights and flashing stuff, but then tricks me into feeling the guilt and the fear of inadequacy with all the people who are doing everything better than me out there.
Jesus doesn’t do that. He just gives himself.
He knows what our anxious hearts really want in all of the hustling: to finally rest.
We’re rushing around, not because we love the pace but because we hope, After all this is through, I will be able to rest. I will be able to come down. I will be found and people will like me and I will finally like myself. And I can stop trying so hard then. But until then, I have to work.
And the working, the noise, the frenzied pace and compulsive phone checking, let’s just admit it: it’s proof we’re still out here working for love. It’s proof we don’t believe we’ve earned the right to rest.
I don’t have all the answers for this. I just know I need more quiet. More evenings without computers, although I barely know how to do it.
More weeks off Facebook.
More nights alone with a book, one I hold in my hand, with real pages.
More meetings with friends in real time.
More time for God to whisper and the silence in which to hear it.