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E and I made a goal at one point of turning off the screens each Wednesday night and doing a Bible/book study together. We started with Love & Respect by Emerson Eggerichs, but didn’t make it through as travel schedules, sleepless nights, and lack of ambition got in the way. We also found the book to be a little redundant toward the middle, so we lost interest. We decided, though, a few weeks back to revive this weekly ritual with a book I had gotten as part of an e-book package: A Simple Marriage. We haven’t gotten that far into it, but it’s been interesting so far.
One of the concepts discussed in the book is the idea of needing space, especially mental space. It does mention other kinds of spaces that couples need, but the one that has stuck with me the most the last few days is the idea of mental space. The basic premise is that you need mental space in order to really process anything, whether it’s a new book you’re reading, a conversation (or even really being able to pay attention to other people), or even just getting the tasks that you need to get done in order. This seemed kind of silly to me at first as I figured I’ve got plenty of mental space, but as I was laying in bed at 3 am the other night unable to sleep because my mind was racing (which is actually one of the examples he uses in the book), it hit me that perhaps I don’t have as much mental space as I thought.
I realized that I spend pretty much the entire day shoving things into my brain. Daily to-do lists (what’s for dinner? did I clean the bathrooms? make the bed? which chore should I start with today? should I take B to the park? to the library? why haven’t I made that applesauce yet?), making sure B doesn’t set himself on fire, reading to B, setting up activities for B, etc., and then when he’s sleeping, I’m usually in front of a screen of some kind taking more in. It wasn’t surprising to me that I didn’t have enough mental space.
So I’ve started small in terms of giving myself more space and instead of listening to a book on my Kindle while I nurse B to sleep, I just lay there and think. Sort of a mental upchuck of all the things that have been brewing in my head over the last so many hours. I guess, at its base level, it’s a scheduled zoning out. And while it can be boring at times, I think it’s good for me as it gives my brain a chance to sort of wind down and figure things out instead of trying to absorb even more. I know I’m at least sleeping better since I started doing this and that in and of itself makes it all worth it.
So give it a shot! Try turning off the screen or the music or the phone or whatever it is in your life that keeps shoving stuff into your brain and see what your mind is able to do with that free time.