Learning the unforced rhythms of grace


Work it out


You know that restless feeling? The one where you make a decision, follow through . . . and then feel lousy the next day?

I recently left my job at Urban Sanctuary as a spiritual director. I have loved my time there and hope to possibly stay involved a little. But I feel the time is right to focus on writing as I have a book coming out in the next few months and a third one in the spring (which I'm pretty excited about).

I’m glad about the decision to leave my work. It feels right. But, the restless feeling in my gut after my last day didn’t feel so good. I wandered around the house a little, had difficulty getting engaged in any particular task, felt kind of needy and emotional and restless. As I sat with the Lord and journaled out my thoughts, I sensed His patient delight in me. He didn’t seem to be in a rush to set out the next day’s agenda clearly for me. He listened and was near, but not rescuing me out of my restlessness.

(One of my friends calls this feeling a “swirly”. It is an obsessive, brain spin that doesn’t go anywhere productive and eventually makes us feel exhausted trying to figure things out. It usually stops spinning when we take action.)

So, I decided to trust God with my mind by working out my restlessness this week by simply, working. I cleaned the house, baked and organized cupboards and just when I began to wonder if I should be doing something more important, I just cleaned something else. It may sound strange, but it worked!

It allowed me to physically work off the restlessness. I decided to not make any decisions on anything else regarding what comes next in my life. I just kept cleaning. It was a focused, determined, physical activity kind of week that allowed my brain to shift its attention onto something else and settle down, catch up and transition into this new phase of life. There wasn’t anything to figure out or understand. It was just a restlessness that needed time to settle down.

It reminded me of a boiling soup. You can't force the flavors to appear once the ingredients have been brought to a rolling boil. It must simmer, cool down a little, and use time to bring out the flavor. There is no other way. 

If I am to love God with my heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:29-31)  then I must accept at times that each of those parts of me must be surrendered to God for his purification process. I can’t possibly understand or know what is best for myself. God knows.

As I trusted the restlessness of my mind to God this week, and engaged in a physical activity, it seemed to allow God to speak gently throughout my week, tending to those restless places in my mind and soul. I didn’t figure things out; God spoke words of affirmation and comfort. I didn’t seek to understand; God brought clarity and stillness to my cloudy thinking. God did it – while I scrubbed floors.

“Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.” (Romans 8:26-28) THE MESSAGE

This whole chapter in Romans 8 is amazing. Enjoy God's provision for you today!