These are the days of:
- streets lined with trees in bloom . . . and discovering where the cherry trees are in my new-since-last-spring neighborhood
- walking with Jesus toward the cross . . . and being so grateful he is no stranger to the weight of grief in the world around us
- savoring the fun of writing The Gifts of Anxiety course for you . . . and discovering that the email system that I use was switching servers last week so not everyone who signed up received all the emails.
- delighting in a preview copy of Emily P. Freeman’s new book, The Next Right Thing, and finding help in her accompanying Discern and Decide course. (This “these are the days of” exercise is something I learned in Emily’s book and course, and I’m enjoying it as a simple way to notice the realities of my life—a key step in living my own life rather than trying to live someone else's, and in any discernment process.)
These are also the days of realizing what my heart needs to know to turn fear of moving ahead into willingness, and even excitement. . . and of realizing that what my heart longs for has already been provided.
I entered this most spacious decade of my life (so far) straight out of the most hectic and crushing decade of my life: twenty-four and thirty-six hour shifts during five years of residency, then four years and many long lines of beautiful and needy patients in a little village tucked in the Afghan mountains. Learning and practicing medicine was an incredible honour. And the way I carried it crushed me. So it's not surprising that some part of me reacts to busier times with a fear that the spaciousness that these years of illness and healing have held will disappear.
I’m realizing this too: I don’t need to fear the spaciousness disappearing because:
- Spaciousness is part of who God is.
- God has given us choice.
- Spaciousness is more than external silence and solitude and stillness. It is an inner posture.
Spaciousness: part of who God is
God is eternal and infinite. He has all the time in the world, so he is never in a hurry. And, while he invites us to participate in his work in the world, he calls us to let that action flow out of a place of stillness and of making our home in his love.
“Be still and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
(Psalm 46:10, NIV)
“Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me."
(John 15: 4, The Message)
Choice-Makers: Part of who we are
God gives us real choice. He makes us stewards not just of our talents but of our lives and our selves. This has been a long, slow lesson for me. My default has been to feel like when I’m confronted with a need, I need to meet it. I’m learning that while there are times that need is mine to meet, there are many times that pressing through limitations to meet that need is more about pride, fear of what someone might think if I say no, or a desire to feel significant than it is about calling or love. To do the things that I know I’m called to, I have to have quiet space in God’s presence to listen. To steward this body entrusted to me, I have to listen to and honour its needs.
There are times God specifically nudges me to do or not do something. And there are many other times that guidance comes through paying attention to the practical realities of my life and using my God-given reason and desires, noticed and held open to God, to help me discern, as Emily would say, “my next right step in love.”
Spaciousness is as much an inner posture as an outer reality
Life has seasons, some busier and some more quiet. I am given the authority and responsibility to choose in ways that help me stay open to God, allowing for times of silence and solitude and intentional prayer. But I’m discovering this too: the crushing pressure that my soul and body so fear is at least as much about my tendency to carry responsibility too heavily and to grasp for control and fear what people might think of me as about the actual number of tasks on my do-list or hours worked. And as I linger with God and slowly, slowly learn to trust and release my desire for control and affirmation and security and change to God, I find myself little by little more able to live in the inner spaciousness that God offers, even in the busier times.
And so I return to the One who can do in me what I cannot do in myself and ask Him to draw me closer still, to help me learn who He really is, to give me the courage to choose, and in all this to settle me a little more deeply into His spacious, gracious love.
“We confess we live distracted lives, and our insides often shake with constant activity.
We have grown accustomed to ignoring our low-grade anxiety, thinking that it’s just a normal part of an active life.
This might be typical, and it might be common. But let it not be normal.
Instead of trying to figure out how to calm the chaos and hustle around us, we rejoice with confidence that we don’t have to figure our way back to the light and easy way of Jesus, because you have already made your way to us.
We have your Spirit living within us, which means there’s hope for us after all.
You invite us into each moment to simply do the next right thing in love.”
—Emily P. Freeman, The Next Right Thing.
What’s on your own “these are the days of” list?
What helps you savor the spaciousness that is part of who God is? Are there any choices you are aching to make to free you to live in this spaciousness?
PS re free courses:
Click here if you missed out on the first round of The Gifts of Anxiety and would like to sign up to get the five free lessons dropped straight into your inbox. And if you signed up and missed some or all of the emails, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know which ones didn’t arrive and I’ll get them to you right away. I don’t want a technical glitch to get in the way of you receiving this gift that I made for you! Thanks for your patience with this unanticipated bump along the way!
If you want more guided help settling a little deeper into Jesus’ love and into the life that you were made for, you might be interested in Emily’s book and course. Click here to watch the book trailer, and here to get the course and other bonuses free ($129 value) when you preorder the book by April 1.