On transitions and being still.
Lots of us go through these things – transitions. I’ve spent a whole life moving from place to place and loving it, well, mostly. The thing about transitions is that they wreak havoc on your everyday. Your rhythm gets thrown off, your relationships get stretched and curtailed and panicked, your life gets slowed and sped up at the same time in different ways. It’s a bit of a chaos that adds to what is already often a messy life.
In the middle of a quick transition for me this year (new job, change of country etc…) I broke my foot. If you think practically, it’s a heck of thing to have happen when you are trying to move. If you think prophetically (as though God might be saying/doing something) it’s a heck of a thing to have happen when you are trying to move. What this has done to my life is almost impossible to imagine if you know me at all – it’s stopped me. To avoid surgery, I’ve had to have my foot elevated as much as possible and it turns out that this is hard to do when you are in motion! But for the most part, pain and the thought of more pain has motivated me to listen to my doctor and keep still, with my foot up. (If you haven't read The Gift of Pain by Philip Yancey and Dr. Paul Brand they explain the powerful reality of pain as a gift from God.)
My mind isn’t so easily convinced so it races frantically through the list of things that need to get done around the house and at work and in my life for this move to happen well. My mind has always been harder to control than my body. So, I’ve been practicing the ‘be still’ instructions that have come not just from my doctor on earth but from my Father in heaven. He often gives these instructions to people who feel like they are drowning or have a battle to fight that is beyond their abilities or capacity. He says it to people who feel overwhelmed or anxious or defeated (please forgive the pun!). So, I’m listening to His instructions to allow space in my life for Him to fight for me. To ‘be still and know’ that He is God. To surrender to His Lordship and His control and His perfect timing and His capacity and His Peace. In the exact place where I should be running around like a chicken minus a head I’m resting, slowed and calm, my foot up and my faith in God.
It sounds super spiritual but on a day to day sense it’s crazy. And it’s not natural, certainly not for me. So, part desperation and other parts opportunity I’ve been practicing some ‘be still’ strategies to cope with my condition. I thought I’d share a few of them in case you or someone you love might also be struggling with a transition or a mind that can’t stay still.
1. Scripture and Coloring. I mocked this secretly when I heard about it. But a friend gave me a journal and challenged me to try it and it’s done wonders for slowing down my brain and allowing some space for reflection in my time in God’s word. I simply open up a passage of scripture and read it through a few times. I think about what has spoken to me – what’s been meaningful or fresh and then I start drawing a symbol of that. If it’s peace I might draw a dove (or something resembling a dove because I’m not much of an artist). Then I color it in (I use pencil crayons and have a ‘journal type’ Bible). While I’m coloring I reflect and pray and thank God for the revelation.
2. Calm App. I use this App to learn and practice the art of meditation. This is getting my mind free from clutter. When I get there I often use a mental picture of Jesus to focus on or ask Jesus to speak to me as I try to practice ‘perfect peace’ as ‘my mind is stayed on Him’. It’s been a great tool with ten minute guided practices to get you started. I’ve also tried the first ten free sessions on Headspace (great for beginners).
3. Lectio Divina – there are some guided sessions on itunes (search for Christian Relaxation & Meditation on Scripture) that use scriptural truths set to music that have been so useful at night, when I travel or these days when I’ve got some time with my foot up. It really helps me direct my thoughts heavenward.
4. Journaling. So many friends have told me that journaling is an essential practice for self-reflection but it’s one of those things I struggle to ‘find the time’ to do. These days it’s easier. Although I still struggle with the concept I find if I just begin to do it instead of thinking about it the action of journaling helps still and clear my mind.
5. Prayer. I’ve been telling people about my daily ‘posture prayer’ from infinitumlife.com and its powerful effect on my thoughts and actions and I’ve been telling the truth. I try to do this every day – the prayer with actions. Somehow, using my body in prayer has helped to capture my mind in prayer. If you study the Hebrew ways of prayer you’ll find that movement was essential. Postures (kneeling, walking, hands up, eating, speaking, rocking, etc…) were used to engage the mind in prayer. Helpful hints for those of us with busy minds.
So, besides Netflix, conversations with friends and making to-do lists that I know I can never get done right now, these are the practices I’ve been using to keep my mind connected to my body - to be still and know that He is God.