Settling Into Self

“During Sabbath, we can listen with openness and curiosity…Here, voices can speak to us, voices we can only hear in the quiet. Only at rest can we hear what we have not heard before, and be led to what is most deeply beautiful, necessary, and true.” – Wayne Muller

In the early afternoon of April 1, I sink into the well-worn leather couch in my living room with a cup of coffee in my hands. I look out the window at the budding dogwood trees and listen to a chorus of songbirds chirping. White clouds drift lazily across the blue sky. I let out a deep sigh, “I’ve made it.”

For months I’ve been approaching April with a heart of anticipation, for I’ve set it apart as a time of rest after a very busy season. Now, as I relax into my seat and sip on my coffee, I’m surprised to find that I’m not alone in the room. It is actually crowded.

Self-doubt sits across from me, leaning forward in her seat. With a quizzical look, she asks, “Are you sure there is not something you should be doing?”

Self-righteous, standing in the doorway, crosses her arms defiantly and demands, “Leave her alone. She’s done enough lately. She’s earned a good rest!”

“Maybe,” Self-image responds, “but maybe it’s a good time for her to capitalize on the work of this season. After all, people seem to be responding to her…”

I sit quietly, observing the back-and-forth banter, and feel anxiety rise in my chest. Self-pity, who is curled up beside me, senses my growing stress. She places her arm around me protectively and reminds everyone that I was injured just three days ago when a seventh-grade boy collided with me in the hallway. “She simply can’t do anything right now,” she states. “She truly doesn’t have the strength.”

Her words rouse Self-contempt, who has been surprisingly quiet this entire time. She can’t remain silent any longer. “Of course, she doesn’t have the strength! She’s lucky she made it through March without collapsing. We all know that she doesn’t have the energy to go at that pace! Her body just…”

Self-reliance suddenly interrupts, “Now, wait a minute. She can, and she has! Give her some credit for all her hard work and success this year.” Self-righteous offers a word of enthusiastic agreement.

Silence settles over the room for a moment, and everybody seems to tune their ears to the birdsong that continues outside. While they’re distracted, I feel a nudge. Self-worth has joined me on the sofa, and she’s encouraging me to address the others.

“I’m surprised to see all of you today, but I guess I shouldn’t be,” I begin.

“It makes sense that settling into a month of rest would prove most unsettling.”

Everyone chuckles, even Self-contempt.

“I want to say that I hear you…each of you…and I want to thank you for trying to care for me in your own unique ways.”

They nod in agreement.

“However, I have something I need to say to each of you,” I continue.

They seem surprised.

I look across the room at Self-doubt and begin to speak, “You asked if I’m sure about my choice to rest. Yes, I am. I need you to know that I have a wise and discerning spirit, and you can trust me.” She leans back in the chair and disappears into the soft cushions.

A laugh issues from Self-righteous, still presiding over the room from the doorway. I turn toward her and say, “I don’t need you to defend me; I need you to join me in humility…do you think you can do that?” She moves to the only empty chair and sits down.

Self-image and Self-pity both seem surprised that Self-righteous has settled down, and they look at me expectantly. I lean in and softly ask, “Would you two let me enter this season of rest with presence, patience, goodness, and compassion?” I see tears welling in their eyes, and I smile at their affection for me.

Self-contempt becomes uncomfortable with this tender exchange, and she begins to speak. I stop her. “I’m going to need you to be quiet. In fact, I will not listen to you unless you can speak truth to me in love. Can you do that?” Self-contempt looks at me one last time, and then she leaves the room. The entire room breathes a deep sigh of relief.

Self-reliance chimes, “Well done!” I turn to her and say, “Stop. I need to say something to you too.” She looks surprised. “I have to practice surrender this month—surrendering obligation, duty, busyness, and performance. I know this scares you, but I also know that you are tired. Will you trust me? Will you rest with me?” Self-reliance holds her breath for a moment, and then she deeply exhales.

Finally, I turn toward Self-worth and say, “Thank you for reminding me that I have a voice.” She embraces me.

The song of a wren, busy building a nest on the front porch, draws my attention to the window. When I return my gaze to the room, I discover that I am alone with myself. I have tended to all the young parts of me that have played a role helping me manage, tolerate, safeguard, and survive. With a grateful heart, I’ve invited these young parts to join me as we wholly engage in this time of rest, and they’ve acquiesced. I sigh as I settle into the soft leather, settle into the stillness, settle into a new season, and, most significantly, settle into myself.

Weekly Editor

A lover of story, Susan Tucker has always been captivated by beautiful writing. She is drawn to themes of tension, joy/grief, hope/loss, freedom/shame, which she explores in her own writing. Susan spends her days teaching middle school English, mothering her two teenage sons, and loving her husband of 25 years. She cherishes her first cup of coffee each morning, moments of quiet and solitude, restorative yoga, worship music, and faithful friends.nbsp