As the calendar turned from June to July, I realized with something of a start that we’re already half way through 2022. Some of us are also at the start of the summer season when perhaps we’ll have a bit more space to slow and linger, to feel sand between bare toes and the juice of watermelon dripping down our forearms.
As we begin this second half of the year, I’m pausing to ask myself a few questions, seeking to listen honestly to what is going on in me, and to ask God to reveal again his heartbeat for me. Whether you’re just starting summer, midway through the season with school starting up again in a month, or right in the middle of winter (I see you, Kiwi friends!), these questions might be worth asking. Join me?
Four Questions. . .
What are you celebrating? Where have you seen God’s goodness to you in the first half of this year? Where have you noticed even tiny signs of growth in yourself? Where have you noticed God at work in the world around you?
How are you, really? How are you physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually? Where do you notice weariness or numbness, or a disconnect with yourself or God or others?
What do you need? What do you notice yourself longing for? What do you long to let go of for a season? (It’s okay, you can dare to ask that question and listen to your longings. We have a God who created us as limited beings and wove rest into the world’s cycles of day and night, weekdays and sabbath, summer and winter. We’re meant to need to let go and rest daily, weekly, and yearly.) Where do you feel resentment sneaking in, bringing it’s not-so-subtle message that perhaps there’s something you’re needing that you’re not getting?
What might God be inviting you into during these next weeks and months? (While not the last word, our needs and longings can often be a first clue to this.) If you sensed an invitation at the start of the year, this might be a good time to revisit that. Does it still fit, or is there a new invitation for this new season?
. . . And a Few of My Answers:
Like many of us, I suspect, I notice I’m weary. I find myself grateful for a season with a little more space to breathe, and wanting to be intentional about doing the things that feel life-giving. For me, some of those are:
Savoring green, whether biking on the tree-lined Greenway, walking through woods, or sitting and looking out at the rich greens of my balcony garden.
Bare feet. There’s something about feeling the textures of sand or grass or even cool floorboards beneath my feet that helps me get out of my head and enjoy the goodness of being embodied, a beloved creature of a gracious Creator.
More spacious time in silence to journal and connect more deeply with the One who loves me and wants to set me free.
Scents. These days it’s running my fingers over the rosemary or mint or basil in my little herb garden just to be awakened to a moment’s delight of the rising scent.
Unplugging. I’m not a big social media fan at the best of times, but I’m drawn to check email too many times a day. Though I find it hard to step away, I know that I relax and rest better when I limit this, so I’m trying to be really intentional about times of stepping away from my laptop and phone.
Scripture. For years I regularly memorized passages of Scripture. In the past decade, I’ve done less of that. But lately I’m aware of a longing for some new verses in my head, ready to pray while I’m biking or washing dishes or any time I need to turn my thoughts from my worries and weariness to the God who is both far greater than all that and loves me in it. I’m starting with Psalm 57, and loving living in the images there, as well as the ways David moves so freely back and forth from raw honesty about his fears and struggles to resettling his mind on the God on whom he chooses to stake his hope in the midst of it all.
An Ongoing Invitation:
At the start of 2022, I sensed God’s invitation to focus on his unending invitation, “Abide in Me.” Or, as Eugene Peterson paraphrases it, “Make your home in me . . . . Make yourselves at home in my love” (John 15:4,9 The Message).
For this year, I sensed three particular ways God was inviting me to practice abiding. “Know Me, Enjoy Me, and Trust Me.”
The invitation still fits, as do all three components. Memorizing and praying Scripture is part of leaning into the invitation to know God more deeply. Bare feet in cool grass or warm sand is part of enjoying God and his goodness, as is savoring the richness of scents in his world and being intentional about slowing down and enjoying being with him. And trusting him? Slowing and savoring and choosing to let David’s words help shift my thoughts toward trust and worship are all parts of leaning into trust.
What about you? Where do you notice needs, longings, or an invitation for this next month or two?
May we each be given daily grace to notice God’s gifts and lean into his invitations in this season.