The good girl speaks loudly today. She is a cloak of shame and a ball of fire and a pointy finger and an evil laugh. She is rude and polite and two-faced and genuine and knows just how to push my buttons. I kind of hate her. And also want to be her. I will never out run that book I wrote.

When you write a book about a good girl learning to let go of the try hard life, you’d better believe that yours are the hands with the whitest knuckles. This life is not stair-climbing, getting closer to the top with every glad step. It’s more like an onion, peeling back the layers of lies and regrets and misconceptions.

Last week, my husband and I stood by the sea, heads weary from the travel, hands open with time to spare, and we didn’t have much to say. It was lovely. Still, I felt pressure to make the most out of our time. Production followed me to the shore, tapping on my shoulder, waiting to be checked off my to-do list. It took a full day to shake him. And even then, it was a fight. I have a disease, I think to myself. I am addicted to producing things.

We are tethered to our own usefulness, big-headed with our own accomplishments, crushed by our shortcomings. We miss the soul breath. We miss the smallness, the doorway through which we must walk to find freedom from the ever moving treadmill of time. Even if we steal time from our productivity to find the sitter, pack the bags, pay the money, sit through the layovers and fly to the shore to relax, sometimes once we get there we forget how. And I realized as I tapped my foot on sand that I have shed my truest identity. Instead of being the beloved, I feel more like the doloved.

How do you calm a life of activity? How do you shake the guilt of rest? How do you smooth the frayed edges and loose ends that wave frantic in your face? To start? Don’t just look at that comfortable chair. Sit in it. Poke a hole in the bucket of time and let the minutes spill onto your lap. And as you do, consider this: you are loved. So be the loved. Fake it if you have to, the being. Because you are loved, so even when you fake it you’re not faking it because it’s true. Read page 44 slow. And then read it again, slower.

We know by heart, take out the trash, sort the laundry, submit the article, call the teacher. We may even know be kind, be patient, be loving. But what about the gift? Be loved. It doesn’t come natural or easy, but it does come. He did come. Take your time to consider God’s gracious love toward you. Let him show up refreshingly new. Item number 20 on the list today?

It just might change everything.