“Put down your cell phone. It’s dinnertime,” my wife said as I peeked at emails popping up on my iPhone between bites of chicken and mashed potatoes. “The office can wait.”
“I’m overwhelmed.” I shook my head and sighed as I put my phone back into my pocket. “Between work, the kids, house chores, volunteering, and everything else on my plate, I feel like I’m in a tsunami, barely keeping my head above the waves of responsibilities. I’m drowning.”
“Why don’t you take a God-date?” my wife suggested. “Put an appointment on your calendar for you and God to hang out. Go for a long run, a walk, take a hike. Create some space in your calendar for something that’s life-giving. When you come back, you’ll be refreshed, able to love me, the kids, and your work with a renewed spirit.”
My spiritual mentor had suggested the same that week. “Can you give yourself permission each month to take a day or half day to hang out with God?” she asked. “Clear your calendar. Don’t let anything get in the way.”
Julia Cameron, in her book The Artist’s Way, writes that taking time at least once a month to do whatever is fun and life-giving reconnects our souls with Divine flow. She calls it an Artist’s Date and suggests we do it weekly.
For some reason—perhaps our need to feel productive or please others—the last person we put on our to-do lists is ourselves. We resist taking time to be alone and play like we did as children.
Christ’s law of love says love God, love others, and love ourselves. We often get the loving God and others right, but the daily tugs at our time zap any room for ourselves. We get the short end of our to-do list. A growing sense of resentment towards everyone and everything that’s in our lives then churns inside us like angry surging waves until a full-blown tsunami erupts and we come out sideways—and blow-up at loved ones.
To be whole, we need time to fill our tanks—time for solitude so we can love ourselves well. There’s an inner freedom we rediscover in taking alone time. As we regain that childlike spirit, we fall in love with ourselves again.
I took my wife’s advice. I put a monthly appointment on my calendar for my God-date. I told my office and family not to schedule anything during that time. I listed it as an appointment with J.C. Thomas so I don’t have to explain it to anyone else. That sacred monthly time has become a priority.
When my God-date gets closer, I ask the Creator and myself a simple question, “What do you want to do buddy? What would be life-giving?” Then I go with my gut and do what’s fun and adventurous, something that feels like play.
My law firm partners wonder if I’m having an affair. Maybe I am—a love affair with God and myself. And my inner tsunami has quieted.
—brian j plachta
FYI—this reflection is one of ten practices that will appear in my upcoming book:
Ten Practices to Overcome Fear and Self-Doubt
and Reclaim Inner Peace and Wholeness
Thanks for all your support and encouragement as I write this book. Look for it in 2020.
God bless, brian