What Do You Need?
Do you need space to pause - space to pay attention? Sometimes I do.
Irritated and annoyed. That was me one day this spring. I do not remember all the details of the day except for the moment that it spilled into my awareness.
I expect I had been running errands that morning before I decided to pick up lunch from Chick-Fil-A. The drive-thru line is typically long, but I finally made it to the front of the right lane and made my order. The car in the left lane was marginally behind me. As I went to merge into the payment/pick up line the car to my left nudged past me. As he moved ahead, he saw my car and raised his hand to acknowledge my presence. Apologetic or indifferent I did not know, but the wave of anger that washed over me was immediate.
Even in the moment I was aware that my internal emotion far exceeded the "possible" offense. After all, perhaps it was not as clear as I thought that my car was the next to merge. It was an every day sort of obstacle, so why was I so triggered? My annoyance simmered as we crept forward in line.
The driver ahead of me paid the cashier and moved on to the pick up window. As I pulled up and held out my credit card the young woman informed me that my lunch had been paid for by the individual before me. And in a moment I shifted from annoyance to gratitude... and contrition.
I had judged so quickly. My own lack of reserve and self-focused heart had no room for patience and forbearance that day. But an act of kindness and awareness invited me to pause... and even receive. My perspective expanded in a heart beat. Immediately my heart was turned toward God and toward the other.
That day, and even now, I step back to observe and be curious. What caused my petulant and self centered perspective? What was needed?
I was humbled that day. An act of kindness and generosity even after an offense, real or perceived, has the capacity to build a bridge of connection. Can I remember that when I am the "grumpy" one. And can I offer kindness when I face another who is grumpy and judgy?
Some seasons of life are harder than others, fraught with stress and challenges, and some days are difficult. A moment like mine - when emotions spiked unexpectedly - can remind me to pause and pay attention. And then I can ask what is needed. Curt Thompson's well rehearsed quote from Anatomy of the Soul reminds us to "pay attention to what we are paying attention to."
When the "To Do" list is long and the season has been challenging sometimes we need to carve out space to tend to our soul. What does that look like for you? Sometimes perseverance is what is needed. But often... if we pause... we may find that our soul is longing for God. And longing for renewed hope. God invites us to soak in His love which is where hope is found.
A PAUSE can look different ways. Here are some ideas, perhaps one will catch your attention.
A personal retreat day - Schedule a half day, a full day, or even a few days to pull away from the normal demands of life. Give your attention to God and listen to whatever he may say to you.
Coffee with a soul friend - Schedule a few hours with a friend. Conversation, deep and playful, with a friend who has a heart for God may encourage both of you.
Solitude in creation - Some folks find a hike or time near water to be particularly nourishing to their soul and their relationship with God. Allow yourself to notice the character of God in his creation. Praise Him for His handiwork and offer your own heart to God in prayer.
Creativity - One of my favorite creative prayer times is to pray with collage. I get a stack of old magazines and enter into prayer time. I tear or cut out any images or words that draw my attention. You can include photos or anything else. Then I assemble what I have collected. Feel free to discard what is not needed or even write or doodle on your collage. You can work with a theme or just notice what is true of you. This prayer practice is simple and accessible.
Journaling - Take some time to sit and reflect on the state of your soul. What are you grateful for, what is hard, what hurts, and what do you hope for? Notice if other questions emerge. Turn your attention to God. God already sees you, but let yourself notice God seeing you.
Attend a guided retreat - Click the picture for registration for the summer retreat at Grace Bible Church in Souderton on August 20, 2022.
The summer retreat early registration deadline is August 6. You may choose your fee for early registration (Suggested fee $28). Final registration for retreat is $35 from August 7-13.
Click the above image to register. If you have any questions email me.
Gentle blessings to you this summer.