It just takes time [for the heart to heal].
A friend whispered this to me during my adoration hour and I let the phrase seep into me and guide my thoughts.
What does that mean, “it takes time”?
Usually, when I hear this phrase I think of time as abstract and passive. But this time I envisioned time as a tangible and active material object – like a salve I could apply to heal my internal wounds.
I pondered this a while and realized God has answered my prayers for healing by giving me time, loads of time. But I often squander it with chronic busyness to avoid the pain and make that time go by faster.
Yet, what I’ve discovered, as many others have, is you can’t rush the healing from grief or other life crises and you can pretend the pain away all you want but it only buries it deeper and deeper, making it harder to heal and causing it to fester.
I knew this intellectually but emotionally I felt lost, confused and didn’t really know what else to do but to “keep going” and “stay busy”.
Everyone complains about not having enough time to do what they really want or really need to do. But, in reality, we all have the same exact amount of time every day. It’s how much we try to pack into a single day that makes it feel longer or shorter.
This year, I decided I needed to listen to my friend’s advice and fully embrace the gift of time and rediscover joy and hope in the little grace-filled moments of everyday life.
I’ve lessened my personal and family commitments, said no more to extrafamilial activities and yes more to spending time just being with my family and friends.
One of the biggest changes I made was the decision to limit my time on Facebook and social media in general and, as you may have noticed, a break from writing and keeping up with the blog as much. (Though I’ve missed that!)
I’m thankful for the ability to stay connected with family and friends and do agree that social media has become an important communication tool. That said, I felt I had become so attached to all my social media connections that I’d find myself scrolling or “just checking” so many times throughout the day that I didn’t even know I was doing it anymore.
Like a cigarette, checking Facebook on my phone was my “go-to” when I felt stressed and overwhelmed with life or just didn’t feel like doing the dishes or dealing with yet another squabble or whiny complaint.
Instead of actively and personally engaging with friends and family, I felt more like a passive friend, peering into their lives through status updates and pictures they shared but not really taking the time to know how they are really doing.
I knew I needed to pray more but whenever I had a few moments of quiet time, instead of praying I’d get my phone out and “just check” and end up using all my rare moments to myself scanning through others’ lives instead of “checking in” with God and opening my heart to Him. I wasn’t sure how I would spend my time without Facebook, and that’s when I knew I needed to uninstall it. If I couldn’t remember or imagine what my life would be like without it, it was time to give it up.
I decided I wanted – needed – to remove this from my life, or at least greatly limit the time I spent using social media. I uninstalled Facebook from my phone, leaving the Messenger, Groups and Facebook page app so I could still stay connected with specific people and groups that use Facebook to plan get togethers. I didn’t give it up completely, I still check it on my computer every now and then and I usually get emails if someone tags me.
The morning after I uninstalled it I felt…free. Like a huge weight had been lifted and I was no longer chained, though I didn’t even realize I had been.
It was a little hard, and still is sometimes, feeling like I’m probably missing out on important information – or not so important. I also worry that people may get the wrong idea and think I just don’t care about them anymore or think I’m somehow “better than”.
I do care very much and most definitely do not think of myself as “better than” anyone. The problem is, as much as I love the ability to share glimpses of our lives with those we truly do care about, I still feel dissatisfied and empty after scrolling through my newsfeeds. It’s because I desire a deeper more personal connection than what social media can offer.
I want to know how my friends and family really are and listen openly to their thoughts with a personal conversation.
By limiting my commitments and spending less time hypnotized by a screen, it’s like my eyes are slowly reopening and seeing the tangible world around me again.
Shortly after my dad passed away, I shared with a friend that I didn’t know what else to do with my days except fill them with activity, “I mean, what am I gonna do, just sit and stare out the window all day?”
“Maybe.” She wisely responded.
Instead of rushing around from one activity to another, frantically working to meet deadline after deadline, I’ve turned the speed dial of my days wayyyy down.
And guess what? I feel like I have more time to do the things I need to do with more joy and more time to do things I like and which are good for my health with less guilt.
I’ve had more time to meet friends for coffee or playdates, call or write letters to friends I don’t get to see often. I’ve reworked my exercise goals to focus on rebuilding my “core” strength (in more than one sense of that word) instead of escaping my sorrow with only high-intensity workouts. I have more time to plan and prepare simple yet nutritious meals and #eatmoresalads. 😉
I try to take a short nap in the afternoons so I can devote my attention to the kids after school with more energy and I’ve started cooking as much ahead during the day so I’m available to help with homework without as many distractions.
I spend more time reading and creating on my own and with my family. I’ve been able to spend more focused time with my husband to talk with each other instead of rushing off to evening packed with activities or only sitting and staring at our phones or computers the whole evening.
Like I said before, at first I worried I might miss out by not checking in on Facebook throughout the day. Now, I see I was missing out on those raw yet profound moments of life that were starting to pass me by without my awareness.
And sometimes, I just sit and stare out the window and allow my mind to ponder, remember, and pray.
Yes, time heals.