It took five miles for me to relax. Not five minutes but five miles. It had been preceded by several days of pesky issues, as well as some fun. I needed some detox. So, I walked my trail. I was five miles in when I heard myself sigh and felt my shoulders loosen. I settled in.
Relaxing isn’t always the goal, but when we carry what we shouldn’t carry, we need to listen to the warnings of tension, anxiety, and preoccupation. We need to stop spinning.
I think that’s one thing I like about walking. It is impossible to spin and walk at the same time. I would spin off the path or get sick. Instead, I look forward. I move forward. I get somewhere.
Maybe walking isn’t your thing, but find something (healthy) to focus on and stop the spinning.
How you finish matters.
Perhaps even more than what and how you start.
Better is the end of a thing than its beginning, and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. (Ecclesiastes 7:8)
It doesn’t change the need for safety and health, for boundaries and guidelines, but it loosens the binding on my heart. It gives me freedom and peace. The ability to not return to a situation of hurt but to move forward into healing. A vulnerability not to the person who betrayed and belittled me but to God who will prune me, mold me, comfort me, and challenge me.
Marriage begins by imagining what you want life to look like together. Then it becomes real, and you leave the fantasy behind. It’s hard sometimes, but you choose to say I do again and again and again. It’s messy sometimes. But choosing I do when it’s hard and messy is one of the things that makes it deeply relevant. Saying I do makes the sacrifices worthwhile, because we commit to togetherness. We commit to teamwork.
Until someone says I don’t.
Anybody can say I don’t at any time, even when you least expect it, even when you’ve been intentionally saying I do. It takes two I do‘s to get married, and only one I don’t to end the marriage. And those two words have ripple effects across many lives, whether it’s I do or I don’t.
What ripple effects are you creating in the lives of the family, friends, and community in which you’ve been building a life? The do or the don’t?
I know so many people who want to numb the pain in one way or another, but pain is an important indicator. If we constantly numb it, we ignore the warnings and reality check of what is going on in our lives and what we need to deal with. We lose precious time in honing healthy coping strategies. Avoidance may provide short-term relief, but it is not a long-term solution.
What pain do you need to face today?
Be honest about it, and respond.
Being still isn’t complacency. We can approach stillness in a couple ways:
Sleep or Steep
We can choose to disengage and passively expect God to do it all – to give us strength, direction, comfort, provision. And of course, he is abundantly giving. He wants us to rest in his presence but not sleep through it. When we are awake, he wants us to be attentive to him.
Instead of sleep, we can steep.
We can soak in his presence. When we focus on what he can do for us, our expectations can get in the way of our relationship with God. Like our earthly relationships, when we focus more on what the other person should/hasn’t/won’t do, our expectations will rarely be met, and the relationship will always suffer because it won’t feel like enough.
The same happens with our relationship with God. We get complacent in our engagement yet demanding in our expectations. And our relationship with God suffers.
But when we steep in his presence, we deepen our relationship.
We know God better and trust him more. Of course, it’s a process with rise and fall, but steeping helps us take on the character of God. It settles into our souls and changes us. It enriches and satisfies us.
Being still is more of a soul posture than a physical experience. No matter where you are or what you’re doing today, “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)
I’ve written about the art of kintsugi before; it’s the practice of repairing broken pottery with gold (or other precious metals). Instead of tossing aside something that is broken, kintsugi approaches the brokenness and the process of repair as a part of the history of the object, something that makes it more beautiful and more valuable.
When one of my friends recently sent me a text to remind me of the strength and beauty of kintsugi, it was perfect timing. When I have seen these pieces in museums and stores, I have stood and stared for several minutes. The beauty and uniqueness mesmerizes me.
We are all broken, fractured into pieces. We all end up with different pieces and shapes and lines of gold, but those lines of gold are God’s grace. His precious gift strengthens and beautifies what some would say is too broken. And I am thankful.