Active Rest, Walking out the “Stuck”

I’m really good at giving advice. And I’m pretty good at taking it from others. I start to struggle a bit when I know that I need to take my own advice. More accurately, when I need to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit as He tells me something I don’t want to hear.

There are a lot of things going on in my life that I don’t have much control over. Yet, I’m wearing myself out, tangling myself up in my mind trying to get a grip on them, force the proper outcome, demand the delayed response, see the future. But I’m hearing God say “rest”.

How does one rest? What does one do in the meantime? I mean, the world keeps spinning, expectations keep mounting, time marches on and: I still don’t have an answer God! I don’t know what to do about this circumstance, that situation or another relationship.

The One Word God gave me as a lens through which to view this year is walk. I sat with my Bible on my lap, staring out the window at a gloomy, spring morning and waited, as best I could, for God to give me something more. I didn’t know how to get up, or what to do next if He didn’t answer me. Finally, He spoke:

Abby, I want you to see the correlation between walking and rest. Do not charge ahead as if you’re in some race toward a marked finish line. There are no lanes, no finish lines, just a person-goal, Myself.

When I was deeply entrenched in my eating disorder, compulsive exercise was one of my greatest challenges and resting was very hard for me. In “workout vernacular” there’s a term active rest. It is those seconds between sets or days between workouts that capitalize on all your hard work. During those rest periods, the muscles and tissues grow and rebuild. Without them, the body’s ability to perform diminishes.

When those rest periods are used wisely, the body is able to lift more, run farther and perform more efficiently over time. In those periods, it is beneficial to drink water, consume nutrients, stretch—and walk. Stagnant rest is detrimental to muscles, but slow, constructive, mindful movement accelerates healing and increases longevity.

Walk, Abby. This is how you wait. One foot in front of the other; the next right thing.

The exercise analogy can be related to the importance of rest in my daily life and walk with God. So often throughout Scripture, God calls us to wait on Him. Usually, I spin my wheels in those spaces, wondering when He is going to act, or maybe I can just step in and do whatever it is for Him. But God calls me to wait, tells me to rest for my own good.

He knows that when I slow my movement, consume the nourishment of His word and walk mindfully through each day I’ll eventually come upon His answer. And after those seasons of slow movement, rest and recovery, I will be able to serve Him longer, in more difficult circumstances and with a stronger faith.

This was first published at http://www.FINDINGbalance.com

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Sacred Sustenance

Ah, I need more time to talk to you! I’ve tuned my ears on this journey of walking and hearing voices  such that I’m finding so many things to share with you. And the truth is, I’m gleaning so much wisdom from the sages I’ve chosen to “walk” with that there’s scarce enough time to fit a word in edgewise. So then, without further ado, listen to C.S. Lewis’ words:

By the bye, what are your views, now, on the question of sacraments? To me that is the most puzzling side of the whole thing. I need hardly say I feel none of the materialistic difficulties: but I feel strongly just the opposite ones—i.e., I see (or think I see) so well a sense in which all wine is the blood of God—or all matter, even, the body of God, that I stumble at the apparently special sense in which this is claimed for the Host when consecrated. George Macdonald observes that the good man should aim at reaching the state of mind in which all meals are sacraments. Now that is the sort of thing I can understand: but I find no connection between it and the explicit “sacrament” proprement dit [“properly so called”]. The Presbyterian method of sitting at tables munching actual slices of bread is clearly absurd under ordinary conditions: but one can conceive a state of society in which a real meal might be shared by a congregation in such a way as to be a sacrament without ceasing to be also their actual dinner for that day. Possibly this was so in the very early Church.
From The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume II
Compiled in Words to Live By

Maybe this doesn’t affect anyone as it does me. But as a former anorexic, the concept of all meals, taken in gratitude, being sacred arrests me. Food, that so-long-enemy, as a means to honor and embrace the Savior…

Walking, Hearing Voices

I’ve set my ONE WORD this year as: Walk, and we’ll talk about that much in the coming weeks. It might even be the seed of a new book germinating (very deeply and slowly) in my heart.

At the end of 2013, God brought several new voices into my life. I’d heard the echoes of two of them many times, but only began to recognize their wisdom recently. The other one I’m sharing with you today is a new friend, and in coming weeks you’ll get to “sit” down with Brenna Kate Simonds and get to know her personally.

But, these are the voices of a couple of people I plan to walk with this year.

C.S. Lewis: “You do not have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.”

Rick Warren: “For change to happen in any area of your life, whether it’s financial, vocational, educational, mental, or relational, you have to begin with the physical.

Why? Because your body affects your behavior. Your muscles affect your moods and your motivation. Your physiology can actually affect your psychology.”

Brenna Kate Simonds: Wherever you go, there you are.

Have you ever thought about what this really means? We get so focused on changing our external circumstances that we forget this simple truth: Most external issues flow out of internal issues. So no matter where you go or how much weight you lose, inside you are still you. If we don’t allow God to change the internal, changing the externals will not have the hoped-for result. We will experience the same trials, the same struggles, the same unhelpful thought patterns. We will do the same thing again and again and expect different results.

Obviously, these voices span the ages, but there is wisdom in each. Throughout this year, as you “walk” with me, I will introduce you to many other voices that will influence us to walk in the freedom that Christ purchased for us.

“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.” Eph. 5:8

Disciplined or Driven?

I’ve always been a black and white thinker. I remember my therapists saying, “You’ve got to chill out, let there be some gray areas!”

And I remember thinking that was compromising, only wimps compromise. Is that true?

I’m wondering what you do halfway?
And are there some things that deserve to be done halfway?
And is halfway related to balance?

Imagine the teeter-totter from your childhood. That hinged pyramid was situated exactly halfway between the ends of the beam where you balanced your butt. Ideally, two similarly sized individuals capitalize on that middle ground and lazily bound up and down. That’s a positive perspective on halfway.

But normally, when I hear halfway, I hear lazy, uncommitted, indecisive, watery, wimpy, undisciplined. Right or wrong, that’s my default interpretation.

So the concept of moderate exercise? It doesn’t exist for me, or didn’t until the uncompromising Jesus began to cultivate in me the mind of Christ.

The idea of a balanced budget? Not my cup of tea. Just ask my hubby. I’d rather watch the savings account bulge than enjoy the fruits of our labors.

Recently, the cogs in my brain have been on overdrive. I can literally feel my mind overheating. You see, I told you that I am writing a book. It’s a good idea, a God idea. I know that it is what He has been calling me to do for years and only now have I unearthed the courage to obey Him.

But here’s where the rubber meets the road.
Can I fully obey God and still fully rest in Him?
Can I be disciplined to sit down and write this book and still be able to set it aside and engage in relationships and enjoy all the other things God has put in my life and enabled me to do?

This is me naked.
This is me rambling slightly, trying to let you inside my head. It’s a little embarrassing that I can’t find the halfway point between doing something well and doing something obsessively; between doing something for God’s glory and feeling like I am responsible for God’s glory; the difference between writing a book because I have something to say and feeling like a failure if I don’t say it all today; the space between BIC (butt in chair) writing and waiting quietly while God puts the words in my heart – in His time. That’s the key: Obeying God, in His timing. 

I think, perhaps that’s why God is so insistent that we wait on Him. Jesus says in Matthew 11:28-30, that we are to come to Him and share His yoke, His burden. That implies that He does have good things for us to do. The problem is that I often bend down, shoulder the burden and then try to run off and plow the whole field on my own. “Look Jesus, see how strong I am?”

For you, naked truth now,
Do you struggle with commitment in anyway?
How about self-discipline?
How about resting?

Do you see a fine line? And if you can see it and if you can balance on it, will tell me how?

Stripped of Chaos

“The devil has made it his business to monopolize on three elements: noise, hurry, crowds…Satan is quite aware of the power of silence.” Jim Elliott

“We live, in fact, in a world starved for solitude, silence, and private.” C.S. Lewis

Have you ever said: “I was home alone all evening, on a Friday night. What a loser.”

Have you ever done: Flipped on the TV, the radio, a CD or all of them at once – just for “background noise?”

Have you ever thought: The more the merrier?

Have you ever found: Yourself in such a hurry that you don’t remember the last time you read a good book?

I venture to say that most of us have done all of the above at one time or another. There’s an odd dichotomy in our culture right now, an expressed longing for quiet, juxtaposed with fervent applause for the busiest, most productive among us. We see sentimental quotes everywhere, on bookmarks, refrigerators, office walls, that tell us to stop and smell the roses. Mattress commercials remind us that none among us get enough sleep. Doctors decry the effect of stress on our hearts.

Simultaneously, the first question we ask any bloke on the street is, “What do you do?” essentially, equating an individual’s value and their relationship to us primarily on their occupation.

And noise? Even sitting here, I can hear my husband’s television show from the other room. A few hours ago, as I made breakfast, I listened to a sermon on my iPhone. As soon as I headed upstairs to shower, I turned on the Christian radio in my bedroom. God-forbid I entertain silence for a moment!

Have you ever felt: Like God has deserted you? As if you’re all alone and your prayers are bouncing off the ceiling? Like you’re fighting a losing battle? What if you quit fighting? What if you stopped praying and listened? 

Exodus 14:13 “And Moses said unto the people, ‘Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever.'”

If God doesn’t build the house,
the builders only build shacks.
If God doesn’t guard the city,
the night watchman might as well nap.
It’s useless to rise early and go to bed late,
and work your worried fingers to the bone.
Don’t you know he enjoys
giving rest to those he loves? Psalm 127

One Word, 2013

My one word is a little scary. I have actually been contemplating it for days and kept trying to chose my own. They were expected words, typical New Year words and I wanted something different. I kept asking God. 
As I began my first blog post for the New Year (see yesterday) the word came to me. 
NAKED. I want to understand what it means to be so cleansed and forgiven by God that unlike Adam in the Garden of Eden, I can stand before Him naked and unashamed. 
I want to see the nakedness in front of me in the form of need or poverty. I want to see hurting people in nakedness and offer them the clothing of the comfort of Jesus Christ and His righteousness. 
I want to live in naked honesty before everyone, so that I never have to reap the consequences of even the tiniest white lie.
I want to reach out specifically to those girls who through the viciousness of an eating disorder have such a terrible body image that they despise the beautiful naked, perfect body God gave them.
So. Naked, is my word for 2013.

Read about the significance of One Word, and others’ One Words.