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What A Former Satanist Taught Me About Faith

What A Former Satanist Taught Me About Faith

  It’s Halloween this week, my favorite holiday of the year, and I thought I would get into the spooky ooky spirit over here on my blog. I’ve never been one for full-on scary movies, books, and tv shows, and you will usually find me […]

When Your Faith Needs A Tune-Up

When Your Faith Needs A Tune-Up

  Ok, I’ve been trying to write a post on taking a Sabbath for the past few weeks. Every time I sit down to write, I’m in the weeds with my message and what I hope to get across. I’m unmotivated and it’s probably a […]

Having Faith in the Enneagram

Having Faith in the Enneagram

 

 

Way back in February, I wrote a post called, “Who Are You? 10 Ways of Knowing Yourself.” In it, I featured all kinds of fun tests, questionnaires, and activities to get to know yourself a little better. One of the things I mentioned there was a test and personality typing system called the Enneagram. Since then, I have to admit, I’ve been a little bit preoccupied with typing myself, reading about my type, and learning every last thing I can about the Enneagram.

 

At the beginning, it was just a fun way of knowing myself, like the famous Myers-Briggs questionnaire. As I delved deeper through books and podcasts, I saw that it was a much more dynamic schema to help me understand myself, my relationships with others, and how I change while under stress or at my healthiest. I found so much depth and complexity in the Enneagram, and so far it has been such an impactful tool on my spiritual journey.

 

The two best resources I’ve found for Enneagram beginners are the book “The Sacred Enneagram” by Chris Heuertz and the Liturgists Podcast episode on the Enneagram (Episode 37). I’ve also really enjoyed exploring the Enneagram Institute’s website, the Enneagram Spiritual Formation Plan from Saturate the World, and the staggeringly honest and touching songs for each Enneagram type by Ryan O’Neal who records under the name Sleeping At Last. He has a podcast episode dedicated to each of the enneagram types (he’s up to seven now and continues to record and release pieces as they are finished).

 

First, a little history… many claim that the Enneagram is an ancient tool transmitted through oral teachings to a select group of acolytes that has been passed down generation by generation. There are claims that it has origins in Ancient Persia, the Greeks, the Romans, or any of the noted civilizations of the past. I’m of the mind that this is all a bit apocryphal and because it wasn’t written down until the 1950s and 60s, it’s more likely to have a modern origin than one swirling in the mysterious past. That is not to say that there is no basis for those claims, just that this historian likes to trust written records before apocrypha.

 

That being said, as we get into the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, so many faiths started to bend and change with the rapidly changing times. In my own faith, the Second Vatican Council sought to modernize the Church while reintroducing more ancient forms of worship and teachings. In this modern Great Awakening, believers of all faiths began to examine their place in the faith of their parents and hoped to integrate their individual identities with a collective belief. I think this is one reason the Enneagram started to become more formalized and a bit more popular in spiritual circles. “Who am I?” and “Who am I in my faith?” were important questions in a time of great social change.

 

For many years, the Enneagram was under the purview of faith-based retreat leaders and leadership in some religious orders. Then in the last five or ten years, the Enneagram has really exploded in popularity. Some have said that as we are in another time of social change and upheaval. It makes sense, then, that we would like to get to know ourselves, to find some certainty or truth within, so we can position ourselves properly in a life of uncertainty. I also think that Millennials are known for being identity-driven and look for meaning and spirituality apart from established tradition. So many Millennials are in the phase of their lives as young adults where they look at their character and personhood and try to find their way in the world. I think that’s the biggest reason why the Enneagram is so current and relevant to our generation today.

 

That brings us up to the present. If you just sort of glossed over the history, glad you’re back! Now that I feel I’ve done a least a little justice to the Enneagram teachers before me and gave a bit of an overview, I’d like to say a little something about how it intersects with my own spirituality and how I’ve found God in the process. I’d like to start with typing first…

 

If you’re interested in typing yourself, there are many online tests, but I’ve found just reading through the descriptions on the Enneagram Institute and in the Sacred Enneagram book and finding one of the nine types that really resonates with you has had a lot more impact for me. The tests I think simplify the process too much and skip that rich exploration of identification that you get from the more labor-intensive process.

 

If you are stuck between two types, the Enneagram Institute has a lot to say about type misidentifications. If you feel like you have a major type and minor type or one that feels likely but not 100% you, that might be what Enneagram teachers call a “wing.” Once you’ve started to get a better idea of your type and maybe your wing type, you may begin to relate a little more to the things I’ve been feeling and reflecting on since I started down this path myself.

 

For me, I’m a Type 1 with a Type 2 wing. Type 1’s main description name is “The Reformer” or “The Perfectionist.” I think the names can be a little bit of a distraction and not terribly accurate. As a perfectionist, though, I’d like to rename my type “The Refiner.” I feel like I’m always crafting and cultivating and refining things in my world, so that sounds about right. Type 2 is “The Helper” and it’s a good way to frame my “do-gooder” nature and how I find so much purpose in right action and helping others (whether for good or ill!).

 

There’s this idea that the description of Type 1 is the way I deal with and understand the world. Nature or nurture, it’s how I’m wired. I believe in truth and justice, constantly refine and correct myself, hold society and others to the highest standards, and believe that by being “good” I can avoid or at least manage my interactions with uncertainty in the world.

 

My type is also a mask I put on toward the world to protect the very fragile inner self that I don’t necessarily value or want others to see. As a believer, I only really allow God to see that true inner self. As I strip away the mask in front of Him and let Him rewrite my identity a little, I’m able to understand myself more, pivot from a place of strength and certainty, and see clearly and with wisdom the world as God sees it. That is to say, with eyes of love instead of judgement.

 

When I first typed myself, I wasn’t very clear on the spiritual dimension. I knew it was a well-practiced tool for those on a spiritual journey, but I guess I just didn’t get it. How could this nine type system have anything to say about my relationship with God? Isn’t that a little limiting? Is this whole Enneagram thing just superstition and kind of reductionist?

 

I will say that over the years, I’ve struggled with a few lies in my heart about my identity and my value to God. We all have our lies and the things that speak to our hearts when we aren’t certain of the great love God has for us. I was at a retreat a few years back when the speaker asked us to think for a minute about the lies that repeat in our hearts. Then we were asked to share those falsehoods with the retreatants nearby. The two women near me shared their lies of belonging and worth. That their true worth may have been based on their outward appearance or that they weren’t valued enough by others to ever truly belong. What wicked lies! It broke my heart to hear these from people I care about deeply. I know these lies limited the love they gave themselves and maybe limited the love they could give for others.

 

The greatest lie for myself was, “You can never do enough.” That resonated with me but I wasn’t sure how it was a lie and how it was creating a block in my relationship with God and others. Of course I could never do enough! Of course my value was dependent on what I did and what I produced and who I helped in the world. I mean, that’s a never-ending task for us all.

 

It didn’t occur to me that others didn’t necessarily have this driving refrain in their hearts to always do more, be better, reach higher, and produce excellence at every opportunity. Call it my “Inner Tiger Mom,” but it had been serving me well. I was able to accomplish many things in my life and was driven to succeed in whichever field I called home. Doesn’t God want me to do good in the world? Doesn’t He want me to pursue excellent and perfection? Didn’t Jesus tell me in Matthew 5:48:

 

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

 

I read that scripture verse as a call for me to be better, do more, attempt to achieve perfection even while failing at it. I guess I just saw it as a noble thing, a helpful thing, a way to purge any lasting sin or weakness from my heart. A way to be righteous and worthy. Worthy of love and worthy of grace. Worthy to call myself a child of God.

 

Then came my long and twisting Enneagram journey that brought me to the Sleeping at Last podcast and song about Enneagram 1. When I heard the lyrics, I honestly just burst into tears! Most particularly these few verses:

 

But the list goes on forever, of all the ways I could be better, in my mind. As if I could earn God’s favor given time, or at least “congratulations…” I’ve spent my whole life searching desperately to find out that grace requires nothing. Grace requires nothing of me. 

 

Because I do have that drive and determination, I had forgotten the whole story of salvation! It’s so obvious in Scripture that Grace requires nothing from me. No act. No success. No accomplishment. Romans 5:8 sums that part up perfectly:

 

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

 

Whether you identify with the concept of sin or not, we all feel our weaknesses, our faults and failings. And yet… and yet God loves us. God gives us grace and reconciliation to His heart based on nothing but our position in His kingdom as His sons and daughters. We don’t have any way to “earn” this love and grace. It’s a gift from the very heart of Love itself. And the grace He gifts? It has so little to do with our efforts and righteousness and has everything to do with His generosity and love.

 

I could rest assured in this passage from 1 John 3:20

 

For whenever our hearts condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and He knows everything.

 

He sees me and knows me. He knows my coming and my going. And yet He freely gives grace to all the parts I consider imperfect and unworthy, weak and faulty, the things that I was working so hard to perfect and transcend. Not only that, but there isn’t a single thing I could do to be more loved or more treasured. Just that fact that I’m His is enough. That’s it. That’s all I need to be. His.

 

And that’s what broke me so thoroughly in those song lyrics. The truth that I can’t refine myself so much that I can redeem myself. That I can rest knowing I have a truth, an identity, and a place in the world that God crafted for me, specifically me, and nothing will change or shake that. I can rest, assured, and confident. I can let go of these burdens and responsibility to make the world “good,” to hold the world to its best, to inspire and uplift and craft and perfect the things around me. I can let go of this enormous weight I carry and the immense guilt I feel when things in the universe are less than fair and equitable and loving and kind and good.

 

I guess this is a lesson that I will continue to learn over and over and it’s a lesson I don’t know that I would have seen so clearly and swiftly were it not for my little exodus into the world of the Enneagram. Were it not for this spiritual journey that took me to a place of reflection and contemplation.

 

I guess that’s why I find it so enlightening and important. I have such a strong conviction that we are each individually crafted by God with hearts and minds and souls that see and experience the world in different ways. I feel that all those around me and those I meet are created with every detail and every hope and every heartbeat of grace that I am. We are all asked, I think, to move beyond our masks and the scaffolds we craft around ourselves. We are tasked with revealing ourselves fully to God and to the world. And we are encouraged to respond to the revelations of others with compassion and grace. To fully know and be known in the world. To love and be loved in return.

 

There is this passage at the end of the Gospel of John that has always struck me to the core. It’s right before Jesus begins his journey to His suffering and death. He takes some time to pray for His disciples, to teach them, to reassure them. He also prays for us, for those believers to come in the future. Jesus is so specific about this and makes His final teachings heard throughout time. The whole prayer and teaching is in John 14, but the parts that I think speak to me most clearly are in verses 1-3 and 27:

 

Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also… Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. 

 

“Let not your hearts be troubled.” “Let not your hearts be troubled.” Why does He repeat this so emphatically? It’s His hope for us and call to us to trust in Him. Though each of us has a room crafted in God’s heart, uniquely and personally, we can be assured that He is there, waiting with love and grace to see us fully, know us truthfully, and embrace each one of us for who we are, not who we pretend to be.

 

And if I believe as I claim to, that we can see the love of God in the love of those around us, I also believe that when we reveal ourselves without artifice or mask and our neighbors choose to love us, we are in the company of true friends. By surrounding ourselves with loving, uplifting, encouraging, challenging, and truly accepting friends, we can experience the love of God in our daily lives. As often as we continually put ourselves in the presence of those who know us.

 

To be truly known and loved, I think, we have to know and love ourselves first. The Enneagram has been the most impactful way I have experienced that. I encourage you to start the journey yourself. It has been such a powerful way for me to unlock some of the things in my heart that have kept me from seeing, knowing, and loving authentically. If any of this resonates with you, leave a comment below! I’d love to hear how the Enneagram has impacted your life and your spiritual journey or if any other tools have helped guide you along your path.

 

 

 

The above image is my favorite house of learning in the heart of Philly, the Waldorf School of Philadelphia. I took this one morning while I was walking my son to class. Lots of spaces for rich contemplation. And mud pies.

 

 

If you want a few more great resources on the Enneagram from a Christian perspective, check out Relevant Magazine’s archive on the topic or articles here, here, and here. These articles do a bit more justice to some of the questions and concerns believers may have about this topic.

 

 

For more inspiration and a look into all the things I love, head over to my Pinterest board and my Instagram account! 

 

Modesty in the Era of #metoo

Modesty in the Era of #metoo

    “Your top is too low.” “Your skirt is too high.” “Your shirt is too tight.” “Your shorts are too short.” “Quit showing so much skin.” “Dress like a lady.”   If you’re a woman, you’ve probably heard these things more than a few […]

There Is No Domestic Heart

There Is No Domestic Heart

  My son lives in a world without shoes. Not out of poverty, which is staggeringly common elsewhere in the world. It’s out of my inability to tame this little guy. And I love it that way. He’s also never known a barber’s shears. We’re […]

Trusting God With Process

Trusting God With Process

 

Last week, Avril Lavigne released her first single in five years called “Head Above Water.” In her lyrics, she walks through the struggle she experienced during a protracted illness and feeling close to death in the process. She also writes about how she reached out to God at her lowest point and heard Him answer. This is her cry to heaven:

 

God, keep my head above water

Don’t let me drown, it gets harder

I’ll meet you there at the altar

As I fall down to my knees

 

Was this the same Avril who once bounced around on a skateboard telling boys they should get rid of all their “preppy clothes?” Was she now a worship artist?! Did her battle with Lyme disease give her a change of heart or is it all clever marketing because of the disappointing sales of her last album? Is this sincere or another evolution as an artist who can’t keep singing “Here’s to Never Growing Up” in her 30s?

 

As I’m thinking all these thoughts and dissecting this song (I’m a closet giant Avril Lavigne fan), I realized that I was questioning her motives and her progress in a faith that I sometimes think should go a certain way or look a certain way. I’ve had this lifelong faith journey and am a little skeptical about those who, seemingly overnight, make a change and have a drastic conversion. And yes, I’m a little suspicious when faith takes a turn for the famous.

 

When I first experienced a radical conversion in my teens, I was everything Evangelical America wanted me to be. I answered an “altar call” at a Billy Graham crusade and prayed the sinner’s prayer on the field at Cleveland Stadium in front of thousands of believers. I bought the right albums, books, and magazines. I went to the right concerts and saw the right speakers. I was on my soap box about chastity, modesty, conversion, and the Bible.

 

There was a lot of grace and beauty and sweetness about that season in my life. At the same time, there was a lot of agenda behind my friendships, my school projects, my relationships with family and my church. Every new friend was a chance to tell them the right Bible verses in the right order to “win them for Christ” and have them pray to be saved for all eternity. I was pretty sure I had things figured out.

 

When I work with teenagers now, I find that kind of evangelicalism about politics, veganism, social justice, or the culture wars pretty sweet and totally in line with developmental psychology. Young people are supposed to be all fired up as they are individuating from their family. It’s part of the plan so they can start to create their own identity and mature. It can also be a lot to deal with it.

 

I was absolutely a lot to deal with then! As I started maturing in my life and my faith, and heard God guiding me toward more complex areas of growth and being patient with me through all the twists and turns, I started to see how limiting my outlook was as a kid. God was infinitely patient with my process, but I was trying to speed along other people on the road to salvation.

 

Steffany Gretzinger of Bethel Music put it so well in her song “We Dance:”

 

And I’ve been told to pick up my sword and fight for love. Little did I know that Love had won for me. 

 

Christ was showing me daily and year by year that He was the one freeing and saving souls, not me. He was asking me to put away my sword and let Him shepherd the people in my life. His patience was teaching me patience. His trustworthiness was teaching me about trust.

 

Any time I question someone’s faith, whether it’s Avril or the person next to me in the pew or the grocery store, it reflects a false belief I sometimes have in God. When I let my guard down and allow these temptations to surface, I’m believing that He’s not paying attention. He’s not in it. He’s distracted. And I’m the one who has to answer the call. On reflection, this is pretty clearly a lie, but something I find very easy to believe.

 

Through all of this, God has been teaching me about process. About patience. About being more like Him. I’ve learned to be grateful for His patience in MY process. Because without His infinite patience on this journey, I would surely be lost.

 

I’m often reminded of Paul writing in Romans 7:18-19:

 

For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing.

 

I have all these beautiful, wonderful, joyful, loving things I would like to do and be. Yet I so often end up tempted to rush others ahead, to rush my own journey, to put myself on the throne, to stop trusting and believing in God. I sometimes find myself full of bad habits, sinful behaviors, nastiness, unkindness, and a lack of love. I want so desperately to do good, but like Paul, I’m over and over again left at the place where only God can pick up the pieces and continually put me back together.

 

Each time I’m put back together, God is showing me His patience with my process and how process is part of His crafting of humankind. We’re not supposed to be perfect or flawless or all figured out. He is.

 

In each iteration of myself along this journey, I’m going from “glory to glory” and being made over in the image and likeness of my Father in heaven. I’m moving closer to love, patience, goodness, and mercy as I walk through the process of my salvation.

 

Over the years, I’ve realized that I’m a good writer. A good writer who has moments of greatness sometimes. But I’m not the author of anyone else’s story, and I don’t think I’d be very good at writing it. There’s only one Author of creation.

 

I believe we’re all in a great love story with God: it could be a childhood love, or unrequited, or full of passion, or steady and sure, or unaware until the last moment, or full of jealousy and turmoil, or full of triumphs and heartbreaks. He’s crafting each of our stories in His own time and with His unending creativity. Who am I to question His creativity?

 

Jesus tells us how that love works in His parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) . So many of us  know this story so well but do you know what prodigal actually means? It means being extravagant to the point of wastefulness. Reckless. Lavish. Imprudent. Excessive. Foolish. Another word is simply “lost.” The word itself doesn’t fit our image of a returning, repentant son. The title of the parable has more to do with the faults and failings of the son than his returning.

 

We focus all our attention on the returning and the welcome home for good reason. It shows us the kind love of our Father. It shows us a father who is patient and recklessly loving in his forgiveness. Who restores an inheritance while his son is still “a long way off.” I think we all love that part of the story!

 

What often gets buried in the message is the great love of the father who let his son go. Let his son waste and squander and live irresponsibly almost to the point of starvation. You see, it takes just as much love for our Father to let us go as it does to welcome us back. He trusts our process. He gives us freedom and patience. He knows we need to work through some things before we can head home.

 

He teaches us about His endless creativity in our stories and how each is crafted uniquely for us.

 

God so often calls me to pay attention to that in others. He asks me to trust Him with people’s hearts regardless of the outcome. He asks me, very gently, to step off the throne and join my brothers and sisters. To stay rightly humble. Not false humility, but a humility born of fellowship in struggle and process. And to let Him tell the unique, creative story He writes for each of us in our own time.

 

In John 8:3-11, John tells of Jesus asking religious and community leaders to examine their judgment of a woman living in adultery:

 

The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in an act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?”… But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. He straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her…” At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. ‘Go now and leave your life of sin.”

 

The Pharisees and community leaders were guilty in the eyes of God, but judgment wasn’t their chief failing. This story is about more than judgment. It’s about trust. They didn’t trust God with the woman’s process. They believed that they had to throw stones because they needed to correct her story and write it in their own image. They didn’t see God’s infinite creativity working through her life. Jesus shows such great mercy and frees the woman to leave her old life and begin anew. He also gives the leaders the opportunity to rewrite the narrative they had trusted as well. To see how things could be different now that the Messiah had come.

 

Sometimes we’re the Pharisees and sometimes we’re the woman. I’d like to think that when Jesus was writing on the ground He was brainstorming and writing out His plan for the lives of the people in this scene. It took Him only a minute to sketch out His plan and set it into motion. He decided to rewrite the narrative of thousands of years and each of their lifetimes to be a story that shows the glory and mercy of the Father.

 

Again and again, God is patient with process. Again and again, God is guiding us, inviting us, freeing us, encouraging us toward the glorious story He wrote down in the Book of Life for each of us. He knows the ending and if we trust Him, our story, our life, is going to be something for the ages.

 

Steffany Gretzinger’s newest song “Sing My Way Back,” puts it in a poetic way that resonates with my heart:

 

A million miles, a hundred lifetimes, I’d never find another you. I found a diamond in the desert, another story wouldn’t do.

 

We are the diamonds in the desert. Only the Author of Life can craft us from the substance of the earth to something precious in His sight. When we trust God with the lives of the people around us, He reminds us that we can trust Him in our own process. He reminds us that He is good and trustworthy and knows exactly what He’s doing.

 

Who am I to write anyone else’s story while God is writing mine? Who am I to call out conversion and authenticity and timing and truth? Who am I to question Avril’s journey or the journey of anyone else?

 

As long as I’m living at the grace and mercy of my Father in heaven, Who is infinitely patient in my process, I can trust that He will write the best ending to all of the stories of each and every one of His children. As I practice patience and trust in their process, I can feel myself becoming more like Him every day. From glory to glory, I am finding my way back home. And no other story would do.

 

 

I took this photo in Central Park a few years ago. It’s neat all the things you can find when you’re looking for stones to throw.

 

 

For more inspiration and a look into all the things I love, head over to my Pinterest board and my Instagram account! 

 

Creating a Godly Home

Creating a Godly Home

    In my faith, there’s a lot of emphasis on this idea of the “domestic church.” It’s the idea that our families and homes are as integral a part of our faith as the community we experience on Sundays. Parents are called to cultivate […]

You Belong

You Belong

  When I moved from Colorado to Pennsylvania in 2012, I not only moved away from friends who became family, our first home, the best weather in the world, access to all the best National Parks… I moved away from my local church. This local […]

Making Time for Quiet

Making Time for Quiet

 

Even though I’m a stay at home parent who intentionally makes place in my life for quiet and peacefulness and I reject any attempts to be hurried along and packing my schedule, I still find it really hard to set aside time for God in the midst of it all. I have a busy, happy life, and I want to squeeze every last drop out of it. This mindset causes me to try to maximize my time and work endlessly on productivity: more ironing, more dishes, more play dates, more trips to the zoo, more date nights. Just, you know, more.

 

Without even realizing it, little by little, I find myself drifting further and further away from the Father and that true certainty in my heart. I wonder to myself why church doesn’t feel the way I want it to feel or why worship nights are leaving me flat. I wonder why I’m not hearing from God more. And it’s not a crisis of faith or anything deep like that. It’s just a constant feeling of being a little off.

 

When I was working actively in ministry through volunteering, retreats, and teaching in a religious school, I would give everything in my heart to the cause and then feel burnt out in my private prayer practice. Now that my job is different, I feel like I end up doing the same thing. Like my default is to minimize how important it is to step back and stand still. And then I’m surprised when I feel so off and distant from God.

 

Bill Johnson of Bethel Church often says, “Jesus is perfect theology.” Whenever I’m feeling like something is off, I try to go back to the Gospels and reflect on Jesus’ actions. His words bring life, but sometimes His actions are what provide the best example for me.

 

In the Gospel of Mark, in the very first chapter, Jesus gets right to work curing the afflicted, casting out demons, and performing all kinds of miracles. Thirty verses in, He takes a moment to recharge. He doesn’t wait until Chapter 5 or 10 or certainly not 16 chapters to take a break. Right in that first chapter He steps away.

 

Mark puts it this way,

 

Mark 1:35

“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” 

 

The whole world needed His healing and His presence, but He showed us, in His perfect theology, to make time for solitude and quiet right in the middle of it.

 

In Matthew, He tells us to do the same:

 

Matthew 6:6

 

“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” 

 

It’s not enough to show us by example. Jesus follows it up by offering an incentive of blessing and reward. Of course it’s a Jesus-y, spiritual, heavenly reward that we have to wait until the end of our days for, right?

 

I don’t think so. I think Jesus gives us all kinds of practical advice in the here and now to keep us going and encourage us toward happiness and purpose. He wants us to enter into quiet to make this journey here worthwhile and rewarding. He desires us, every moment of every day, to connect with the Father because it gave Jesus energy and joy and hope and restoration. He offers that to us as well.

 

So if it’s so good for us, how do we fit a quiet practice into our daily lives? How do we make it a priority?

 

I think it’s by making it a priority! And fighting for that time. Our relationship with the Father is just like any other relationship. We have to take time out to remember the other person, spend time with them, invite them with us, make time in our schedules. I’m not saying it’s easy, and that we can just make a single decision that God time will be a priority and like magic it will be. I am saying that we need to work on it and try.

 

I believe God rewards our efforts in trying.

 

James has this to say about it:

 

James 1:12

 

“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” 

 

Our daily lives can be a bit of a trial. Our busyness and priorities and appointments and schedules can be trying and can wear away at the relationships in our lives. Once again, there’s a promise of a reward though. It’s a concrete thing. Take a step forward, keep going, and it will pay off. Jesus always overflows our life with blessing, and nothing He promises ever falls short. When He talks about this “crown of life” I think He’s talking about an abundant, rich, full life. He wants us to shine and live, really live, and truly inhabit our little place in the world.

 

With all these rewards, I think trying to make time for quiet can get kind of addictive. When I make a little step forward, like reading a Bible verse every morning, saying a prayer before I drift off to sleep, walking my dog and just breathing in the fresh air and quiet, Jesus follows up and offers me a little taste of heaven. That pushes me to try a little harder and be rewarded even more richly.

 

I’m not saying it’s easy to take time away or that it’s effortless to always be mindful of that need in my heart. Quite the opposite. It’s a fight every time I do it. But every time I think it becomes a little easier. Once those little moments away start to build up, it becomes a practice, then a habit, then a rhythm in my heart.

 

So right now, right this second, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and say, “I’m trying.” Vulnerability and trust is God’s favorite language I think. Just the admission that it’s hard and you’re trying is really freeing and opens your heart.

 

Whatever your faith practice, we all need a little quiet and rest. Meditation, repetitive prayer, going for a run without headphones, taking a little longer in the shower. I don’t find that taking a step back has to be particularly Christian or religious. That is just something that really resonates with my heart. But making time to hear yourself think is such an amazing way to get back to your heart, yourself, and your soul.

 

When we step into these solitary places, we remember who we are. We open our hearts to blessing and joy. And even just a little trying brings a great reward. So take that step away, go to the solitary place, and plug into the beat of your heart. God rewards even the smallest effort and is waiting there to meet us the minute we try.

 

 

Post Script: I took this picture in the Sacred Grove in Palmyra, New York a few years ago. It’s an amazing place historically, and a great place to take a step back from the world.

 

 

For more inspiration and a look into all the things I love, head over to my Pinterest board and my Instagram account! 

Exciting Changes Coming to microliving!

Exciting Changes Coming to microliving!

  Happy September 1! For me, that’s the official start of fall, even though according to the calendar I’m 22 days early. I’ve already started getting my fall decorations out and planning my fall wardrobe. And I’m feeling the back to school vibes just like […]