In 2003, our family went on a trip to Italy. I had just finished my first year of working full time at a campus ministry and led a mission trip until two days (TWO DAYS!) before the family vacation (FAMILY VACATION!). As you can imagine, I was emotionally and mentally exhausted. There were a lot of factors that led to the bad spot my heart was in, including a boy. (But trust me, that part of the story is dumb and not worth your time.)
We were in Florence, at a hotel nestled in a vineyard. Our view overlooked the city. It was June - the only thing on television that I could understand was Wimbledon. So even though I'm not the world's most avid tennis fan, I was glad to have a way to zone out.
I was tired. Really tired.
I wasn't very nice to my family. It seems to be my way, unfortunately. When I need time alone and I don't get it, I ink.
(Remember that scene from Finding Nemo? When they scare the little octopus dude and he inks everywhere?)
Yeah, I emotionally ink. But not when I'm scared, more often it happens when I'm tired and need alone time or need a break. Everything that comes out of my mouth is black ink. And it stains.
Then there is a clean up that is more painful than the mess ever was.
I stood outside of our room at the hotel and listened to a Shane and Shane album over and over again. In the pitch-black dark of night, I watched this foreign city and just tried to rest my mind and my heart. It had been too long since I did that. Thus, the inking.
Maybe it is embarrassing that seven years later, I'm still having this conversation with myself. The same one that my mind massaged around for hours that night in Florence. Why is it that the people we love the most are the ones we end up hurting? Or, if you want to get technical, why do I ink on them? Why do I wait so long to rest that I end up exploding with anger or hurt or frustration?
I don't choose quiet enough. I don't choose to be still enough. When I push myself so far that I get to the breaking point, when quiet and rest and lack of noise are a MUST, it seems those are the things out of my grasp. And I ink.
I hope it doesn't take me another seven years to get a hold of this. I'm trying to fit quiet into my every day. My family and friends deserve to be as ink-free as possible and that is under my control. I can choose to be still.
"In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength..." - Isaiah 30:15
Can you relate? Have you ever needed a break so much that you ended up breaking on everyone else? Start small - take five minutes today and sit quietly. Or just turn the radio off in the car. Read one verse or pray one prayer. Just slow down. And rest.
And in time, you won't even have to ink about it.
(I love a good play on words. :) )
Annie Downs is a freelance writer in Nashville, Tennessee. She hopes to keep her ink to herself today. Read more at http://annieblogs.com/.
© 2010 by Annie Downs. All rights reserved.