I didn’t want to get out.
But Daddy swung the car door open.
My parents had just divorced and Daddy took me and little sister to the toy store one Saturday morning.
He wanted to buy us something to “Remember Daddy loves you,” as he placed the plastic bag in my hand at checkout. But, all I could think about was Momma. What she told me that morning. That I better not take anything from him.
I didn’t know it at the time, but that visit was going to be the last time I ever saw him again. I was a little girl, seven years tall.
Daddy kept telling me, “It’s okay. It’s okay.” But I didn’t want to walk up to the porch. My legs drilled down into the ground like roots to a thicket of thorns at the bottom of concrete steps.
My Daddy put one hand on my back, pressing me forward, as he grabbed my little sister’s hand in the other. He rapped on the screen door while I blinked and sucked my breath in.
As I held myself there for a million years, the door flew open.
There she stood. Over me.
Even behind the screen, I could see Momma clearly. Her ragged jawline, her teeth clenched and face flushed. Her chest heaving. She took one look at me, at the plastic bag I was holding. I could see it in her eyes.
And I broke apart in a thousand pieces right then and there. I knew I shouldn’t do what I did next, because it would make everything worse. But, I couldn’t help it.
I started shaking. Tears began to erupt and my mouth pulled down into a trembling sob. I couldn’t swallow them down. So I began to cry.
Things didn’t go well for me that day, as I stood there at the screen door out on the porch.
There was no space for me.
I was split between who to please and what to do.
I could not find rest.
Even though I’m all grown up now — mom to two adorable boys, married to a loving husband — deep inside, I’m still that little girl looking for rest.
Longing for space to breathe.
To feed my soul.
To feel and dream dreams.
To just be me.
I need rest.
But, stress seems to always be one step ahead of me.
I’ve wondered if I could ever really stop.
Then, God allowed my life to come to a big stop.
A Beautiful Discovery
Two years ago, at the cusp of a childhood dream coming true – writing my first book – I was launched into a debilitating season of panic attacks, insomnia and anxiety.
Writing triggered memories to come alive. I began reliving them.
I’ve done much harder things in my life, free of panic attacks. I grew up as the oldest child in a single parent family, put myself through college, and launched first-to-market technologies in the high-tech world. I’ve even traveled halfway around the world as an overseas missionary.
But, now overwhelmed by anxiety and stress, I was no longer able to cope the way I always have:
by problem solving,
taking care of others,
planning and doing.
God was allowing my exhausted, weary self to surface, so that I could go on a new beautiful discovery: the journey of rest.
A New Journey
When we come into contact with stress, our natural response is to push through.
We don’t want to be in need or fail to meet others’ expectations, especially our own. We beat ourselves up for not trusting God.
But, God offers us a different response.
Rest. Kindness. Comfort.
Instead of being harder on us, Jesus whispers –
“Come to me, all those who are weary and heavy-laden
and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
When Jesus was surrounded by pressing needs, Scripture tell us —
“Jesus would often slip away
to the wilderness for prayer.” Luke 5:16
Jesus took time to rest because nurturing his soul with his Father was more important than what He could do.
Putting our hearts first—letting Jesus love us—is a new journey of resting with Him.
As people of faith, our response to stress is not to avoid it.
What we need is rest.
What we need is spiritual whitespace.
Whitespace. It’s the space left on a page left unmarked.
Whitespace is not blank. It breathes beauty.
Just as beautiful art needs whitespace, our souls need spiritual whitespace. We need rest.
We are not project plans for God. We are not God’s stock investments, where our value rises and falls with performance.
God after all is an artist. And we are His works of art.
“For we are God’s poeima (the Greek word for workmanship, from which we derive the word “poem”)…
which God prepared beforehand…”
I ended writing a different book than I started. I wrote a memoir-driven guide about my search to find rest and the answers as I found them.
To find the things I somehow lost along the way —
Intimacy with God.
Rest is a journey we don’t have to take alone. We need each other.
Let’s live a better story. Move beyond surviving.
Take the journey to rest. Find your spiritual whitespace.
Listen to Jesus’ gentle whispers —
How is God taking you on a journey to rest?
Pull up a chair. Click to comment. Let’s share.
Written by Bonnie Gray, the Faith Barista serving up shots of faith for everyday life.
For more inspiration to find rest, join Bonnie in her special June Book Launch Series on FaithBarista.com — 21 Days of Rest: Finding Spiritual Whitespace.
Thank you. I too could never make both parents happy and was stressed, worn out and numbed through trying. I carried this into all my relationships. Then, after 40 years the Lord broke in. I couldn’t speak or move for 15 months. He restored my soul as I rested by His still water.
Physically I’m healed, but I am still in recovery. That white space is not an empty margin, you are so right, it gives perspective to the picture. I wonder if its what the Celtic Christians referred to as a “thin place,” a place where Heaven touches earth.
Bless you for writing this. It made me stop once again! xx
Bonnie Gray says
Such a soul-awakening, beautiful story, Ruth. May you continue to feel God near and His presence new in your journey today.
Bonnie, I am exhausted. The last two years of my life have had too many jolts to my always-anxious emotions. With my father’s passing in January, and the continuing responsibilities of taking care of my mom, added to all the other stuff, I just can’t take it. So, here I am at 3:30 in the morning, unable to rest.
I am praying that the Lord will strengthen me. I need HIS rest so much.
Thank you for always writing something that touches my soul. Your *whitespace* offers me a place of peace.
I read your comment and felt my heart reaching out to yours. I’m Sharon too, and I’m also exhausted. Your comment could have been my own, with different circumstances inserted. We’re going to be okay. I wish we could just sit on the front porch together with some sweet tea and let it all out. Prayers and love to you.
Bonnie Gray says
that sounds so restful, Sharon. room for one more? 🙂
I’m on my way over!!
Bonnie Gray says
soul rest is soul beautiful. thanks for sharing, Sharon. God never intended for us to carry it all. give yourself permission to rest. As is. you are worth it. you are loved.
Bev Duncan @ Walking Well With God says
I have always lived and dealt with an anxiety disorder. When I was younger, it was undiagnosed, and so I learned to cope by organizing, distracting, keeping ultra busy and pressing on. Rest was a foreign concept to me. If I rested, I had to be alone with my anxious feelings. This coping mechanism worked okay until my first child was born and my anxiety blossomed into full fledged OCD. God, in His wisdom, removed all my coping crutches from me and all that was left was God and me. He had to strip me of everything so that I could find my rest, my whitespace in Him. For the first time in my life, I understood what it was like to be loved, cherished, valued, not for what I did, but for just being God’s precious daughter. There have been other seasons of brokenness since then, when God had to call me to be still and rest in Him. Through every broken season, God has been faithful to His promises to not leave me in the valley, but to bring me through to the fertile and lush pasture. Thank you for sharing from the heart…it brings hope to the soul!
Bonnie Gray says
thnx for sharing your heart & your story, Bev. your words and haert here with us.
Melanie @ Carmel Moments says
Beautiful! I love white space. I often hear God calling me in mid-day as I’m rushing around in my little house. As I’m folding wash and baking bread and blogging. I just here him saying, “Come”.
One simple word. And with that calling, I have to decide if I’m going to stop what I’m doing to simply go and be with him.
That’s all he wants. Time to sit, to reflect, to share and to breathe.
Unfortunately, I haven’t always gone when he’s called. I’ll never know what I missed out on. Sadness creeps in.
But I don’t dwell on the past. I look toward the future. When he calls, I listen. And time with Him is never wasted.
Praise God for His mercies which are new each day!
Bonnie Gray says
Melanie, I love your blog name “Carmel moments”… sounds like spiritualwhitespace… i can hear a kindred on this journey of rest. beautiful soul prints you’ve written here to share with us.
Melanie Vanlaningham says
“Come to me all who are weary….” I wrote this passage in my journal yesterday because weariness feels like my middle name and rest eludes me. I know where I find my rest – in God alone- yet it’s still a struggle. I am DESPERATE for this kind of rest right now so could use some extra prayers. Tears come easily, I’m not the person I want to be, yet I know God is still at work in my mess….tho He wants so much more for me. Thank you for your words this morning.
Bonnie Gray says
melanie, you’re worth it. you’re cherished. give yourself permission to unravel with God. He’s strong enough to hold you and take care of you. thnk you for sharing your journey with us.
Prayers have gone up for you this morning, dear sister. You are Father God’s precious one.
Beth WIlliams says
Prayers Melanie! May God grant you the whitespace you need to rest and relax.
Please grant Melanie the rest she desperately needs! Shower her with your peace & contentment. Call to her and help her to sit and rest in your presence!
“Jesus took time to rest because nurturing his soul with his Father was more important than what He could do.” Such an amazing Truth. I always think I have to do more and be more. Always stressing myself out to please and do for others instead of myself. Always feeling “not enough.” I started reading your book, and there is so much in it that I have to take it slowly so I can process everything. This idea of just leaning into Jesus with all my vulnerable self. And just trust Him with all my brokenness. I always think I have a lack of faith, but I shouldn’t even be dwelling on that. Just rest in Him. Thank you, Bonnie, for helping me deal with all this. I’m learning He wants us to come broken, just as we are. He loves us just as we are, His cherished, priceless works of art. I thank God for giving you courage to follow your heart and share these things with us.
Bonnie Gray says
wonderful to hear how God is speaking to you and touching your heart, Trudy.
Like many, I feel I have many responsibilities at the moment. I run my business, I work on our non-profit that works in Africa, I want to keep my blog up and running, I have editing jobs lined up on my computer, we facilitate our church’ marriage small group, I want to tend to friends and of recent, I co-lead a community group here at (in)courage. It is much and I am trying to rest in the midst of it. Today we were supposed to drive to Ohio for meetings… and yet, I am home in bed. I just need rest, be quiet and I need the ‘NOT DOING ANYTHING’. I think it’s all about what you write… I can probably do all the above, even in peace, as long as I find my rest in Him.
Can I just say you are a very talented writer. You drew me right into your story!!
Bonnie Gray says
yes. doing nothing is not nothing. you’re caring for your soul. the deepest part of you where your heart is. and where everything flows. God wants us more than anything we can do for Him. I want to continue telling you my story, Hope — and we can meet between the pages of our stories… i think you’ll enjoy my book. 😉
I have followed your story these past couple of years with fascination, wonder and hope. Your story has encouraged honesty with myself about what is going on in my heart. For many years I have pushed on thinking that I would “get over” or grow out of the things I believed were missing in my personality and “be normal” and “together” like everyone else. I pushed myself and prided myself on being a survivor. I accomplished a great deal of things- more than the “normal” person. But somehow, in my evaluation of myself, something was always lacking. My successes haven’t brought me the rest I was hoping to earn. There is always something else around the corner that needs to be accomplished.. to make me more normal…. or prove that I am okay. As I write the words I realize how ridiculous it is to live that way. This is not what a loving Father wants for me.. it is never what I would want for my own children.
As a child I was talented artistically but very shy and sensitive. I felt like I had to make up for those times that I was “too sensitive” by showing that I do have character and value. I was living on the outside so that I could earn the right to live on the inside… Problem is, nothing ever seems to be enough. I was living for my badge of honor and thus living too small. God made me to be myself, not match up to any ideal image and I was not doing that. In a way I was insulting God.. putting His plans for me on hold while I proved myself to…..who?
As long as I tried to “make myself”, I was not free. God wants me free. I became alarmed when I saw that my exhaustion and lack of freedom was spilling out of me onto my students. I was disproportionately frustrated with them when they did not listen or follow directions.
White space gave me time to listen to my heart and realize that my striving was not only hurting me, but it could negatively affect others. I need to stop to let my soul catch up with me. When I am still, I hear God whispering to just be the artist he made me to be – to have the courage to leave something that is objectively good- teaching – to be fully what He made me to be – an artist. I am just now taking the baby steps. I quit my demanding job and am going to get to work on my own art after all these years. I have been scared to do this and have been hiding behind the duties required of a teaching career. Please, Lord, help me to honor You by living free.
Bonnie Gray says
Donna — you’re a kindred on this journey of living the art of being His. I think you’ll find my book a compelling read in your journey to find rest and become the you God always intended for you to experience and live out. thnx for sharing your soul-awakening beautiful journey.
Diane Marra says
Yesterday was a turning point and end of one life and today I can say the beginning of another. Last night in my desperation, I questioned why am I even here? Thanks Bonnie for this post, it reminds me that perhaps the new phase of my life IS about rest- resting in HIM, not trying to make myself into someone for others, not working so hard to be someone “others will like”. I accepted my ministry about 10 years ago as a faithartist and have tried to squeeze it into my other life- the one that pays the bills and takes care of my family ( I am a single mom of 6 kids and 2 grandsons). I ordered your book, and am going to spend the rest of this year resting in HIM, exploring who I am in Him and connecting with others who are on the same journey. My everyday faithart journaling has led me to deeper truths about Him and I treasure that. Donna, you and I are on the same path, I will be praying for you also. would love to connect with you. I blog over at http://dianemarra.typepad.com/adore_him/ about my spiritual journey.
Jennifer Kostick says
Allowing ourselves to hear the whispers of Jesus is the key to freedom. Your story is beautiful because you’ve allowed God to work in your heart and then share the process with others. Blessing to you today, friend!
Bonnie Gray says
Jennifer! always nice to share a virtual mocha with you… a soul conversation! 🙂
Good morning Bonnie, as one of the members of your launch team, I am so grateful you are sharing your story with us. It is a powerful read and your words are being used to bring more healing to my life and to so many others. Bless you. Your courage to walk in obedience is so inspiring.
I’m going to call out the same quote that Trudy did: “Jesus took time to rest because nurturing his soul with his Father was more important than what He could do.” If rest was more important that anything HE could do, it’s certainly more important than anything I could do!
I grew up as a people-pleaser, too, and I’m still fighting it. I know I wouldn’t have made any progress at all if I didn’t have a new identity in Christ.
I ordered the book. Can’t wait to read. I have been surviving for a long time and I’m so worn out and literally get paralyzed with fear.
I have a dear friend who developed chronic fatigue syndrome as a result of chronic stress. Her life began falling apart, and the more time she spent in bed, the more time she was able to spend reading Scripture and seeking God. She has since recovered, and she says it was the most spiritually fruitful time of her life. Since then, the Lord has restored her health, her career, and her life calling.
I’m so grateful for her and for all of you who so bravely share where the Lord has taken you and how He continues to redeem what was lost.
We live in such a fast paced world, I often wonder how anyone can keep that pace while carrying unresolved issues inside. I know I found I could not and retired early exhausted from career stress and accumulated stress of raising a family and recovery as a child of an alcoholic family system. It took two years of rest for me to not feel the heavy exhaustion. I’ve told you my story. Today, I feel much stronger and have not had anxiety attacks for a long time. I’ve used what I’ve learned to help others suffering also by being compassionate and understanding, and being an oasis for them when the world just didn’t understand. That’s what your experiences do for a much wider audience. I am so thrilled to see someone address these issues. It raises the consciousness so we as a world family can grow to be more compassionate. Thank you! God bless!
Please pray for me as I am struggling with rest right now. My heart aches. As much as I long to come to God, hurtful circumstances have worn me out and I just feel tired. Tired of coming to Him and still feeling like life hurts even more in return. Trusting God has been extremely difficult for me lately. I believe in Him, but I am really struggling with Him.
YES!!!! i need this, THANK YOU Bonnie!! I am struggling with rest…My heart aches and as I continually try to bring it to God…I am just sooooo tired..which means I’m not giving enough up to God. I always think I am giving my love and trust to God…but i just dont think i am giving it all since i am still feeling hurt and struggling sooo much right now.
I’m always busy taking care of others (even outside of my five firms and husband) and making sure I’m doing things the right way for the right reasons and trying my best not to be classified as a people pleaser. Yet I go undone. Recently I’ve been down (more 2months)with back pain& sciatica., Found to be a herniated disc. I’ve been at rest physically but not mentally. But I’m making due and decided: okay God I’ll take the rest just give me piece in the midst of it all. I’ve had visitation with God. But my cluttered mind won’t let me hear Him clearly. Today is the first day (after surgery) I’ve had alone in this. No one else is around just be and God and I’m finding that rest and hearing him speak as I read your Words of encouragement. Rest. For me. Peace. In God. Hearing His voice only. Fulfillment.
Oh my friend, I hear your heart as always. I am in a place right now where finding rest seems to be impossible. I can’t wait to read your book, though it may have to wait a while because of funds, but I know that I will find places in there that I connect with. Thanks for sharing as always 🙂
Correction to my post…that’s five girls! Not firms.
Lynda-Sue Ledingham says
Glory to God! I am so very thankful to have been led to your book and website. It will be wonderful to read your book. Love & Prayers, Lynda-Sue
its cool that you kept writing when you were having your panic attacks. You sound like you have great support. I am a writer too – songs – http://www.awilshiremusic.com – i had a hard time a few years back – and after releasing my cd more recently – had some bumps in the road, energy and anxiety wise. I am sorting thru all of that now. Or making a comeback i guess. I feel peace when i read your words about rest. I am working on making my space (room) a place of rest for me and God. its hard to not beat yourself up with how much more you can do…God help! Take care Bonnie, keep writing – it is a blessing
Katie Reid says
Bonnie: I can feel the room to breathe- deep and slow- in this post. Thank you for bravely walking through your story, so that others can learn and be freed too.
Your words always speak deep to me, no matter what your stage of being. Today God is repeating I cannot fall back into coping as “I always have,” He has new things for me. This feels too big and scary, but He is with me. Thank you for the encouragement to find rest and see the whitespace as beauty, God’s art in and for me.
Thanking God, again, for you.
Beth Werner Lee says
Happy surprise today: I went to Amazon to make sure I had pre-ordered the book, and they were offering me the kindle match book for2.99, which I downloaded! I can start reading it today. Boy oh boy do I need it. I’ve been traipsing around England (only Oxford, London, and now lovely little Cambridge) with two professors, 16 college students, and one homesick 13 year old daughter (newly given iPad with her own email account) playing travel assistant and dorm mom. I need to fight the anxiety, and Finding Whitespace is God’s gift. Also evensong at St. John’s to which we are going now as a family. Praising and thanking God for you, Bonnie, I’m sending love from across the pond!
Dearest Bonnie, I just finished reading about the encounter with your dad and the toy store, then your mom. It just sounds so familiar to me but different since each of us has our own story. I just got back from an appointment with my counselor. It is hard. It is good. It is spiritual whitespace because it is letting the “real” me come out and have a voice.
Dear Bonnie, It took a full 30 minutes for me to read this wonderful heart wrenching post. Finally I was able to squelch the outpouring of sobs lodged in my throat & finish reading. You see I was 7 as well when I was led out onto my Uncles porch by two people the two I loved most in my life. I was the one to make their decision, my Mother asked the question “Do you want us to live with your Dad..” With my world spun, my chest heaved & with sobs, & through quivering lips I replied “Yes” because I loved them both, knowing I would relieve the nightmares again & again. The Alcohol & abuse came & at the age of 9 my Father was gone not to return until I was 35. I have now attained 62 yrs & there’s still a 7 year old with a history of pain. I’m crying again. Sorry! I don’t comment on blogs, nor do I tell this tale, but you have opened something I had buried away. So I’ve filled up this white space in your comments section. Maybe it’ll be a beginning to some healing…Honestly I’m scared to go there for very long… Thank you for sharing your story. I love reading your blog! I will try & seek healing & rest in my own whitespace.
Oh Del, I pray your sharing this. here. is the beginning of healing for you.
My story is different than yours, different than Bonnie’s… I have been on a long healing journey the past 6 months. I kept telling God, “No, I can not go there! That is too painful.” And yet, when I got to a point where I thought I might explode from the anxiety I was keeping inside, I finally reached out to a dear and trusted friend. I opened up and shared what I had buried years ago. I could no longer function like I had been.
I have since realized there are many issues I need to deal with as a result of not feeling the difficult things in my life. It is an on going process, but I am so much better! My friend and I talk about every 10 days or so. I want to encourage you to find a trusted person to share your story with. Your healing process began today! I know it will be hard, but oh so worth it! Praying you continue to reach out and open up.
Your words remind me of lyrics to a favorite hymn–Jesus I am Resting, Resting. It has become somewhat of an anthem for me in the past few years. Just one of my favorite stanzas:
Jesus I am resting, resting
In the Joy of what Thou art;
I am finding out the greatness
Of Thy loving heart.
Thou hast bid me gaze upon Thee,
And Thy beauty fills my soul,
For by Thy transforming power
Thou hast made me whole.
Beth Warner Lee thank you for your post – just visited Amazon and now have a ‘Kindle for Android’ copy of Bonnie’s book on my phone.
Bless you Bonnie. It is amazing the grace that God so graciously pours out through you. I am so excited about tucking into your book – a banquet of blessing. Lots of love and best wishes, Wendy
Cat Evans says
Like an arrow to my weary heart
& soul this is what is yearning just
Below the surface of my life.
Ann Graham says
Quiet, stillness, beauty, intimacy with God – these are the things that resonate deeply with me, and I often find the hardest to embrace. Thank you for your words of encouragement Bonnie. I’ve just posted this week about sharing the journey (I’m on a slow recovery from burn-out) so your post is very timely.
I’ve also just bought your book, and am looking forward to journeying with you.
May you be blessed deeply as you continue to share your story.
Lynn Richards says
Wow. Such divine timing to read this article.
I am being emptied. Over and over and over and over. Stopped in my tracks physically and mentally, I cannot produce or create, figure out plan that works, or overcome.
So now I wait. I wait to be filled. By the God that I have loved for years and years. By the God I have served and somehow missed that He too, suffers with me when I have the rug pulled out from under me again and again.
Can’t wait to read the book.
Bonnie Jean says
I just finished reading your book all the way through and now I am going through it and journaling… your story and mine are very much alike… except the abuse and rejection continued through my mid-forties in bad destructive relationships until I was almost killed literally. I learned many lessons the hard way… but I sure can use spiritual whitespace to allow God to heal the little girl and the grown up one too. Thank you for writing your book.
Wow. I really needed that today. Anxiety has become an all too familiar weapon against Christians today. But just as in any war, you can’t build up your strength without rest! Thank you so much for sharing!
I love those “deep breath…release…ahhhhhhh!” moments. Thanks for one of those moments. 🙂
Wahoo Bonnie! I received your book yesterday by UPS!! I, too, beat myself up for not being perfect in trusting God. I am so thankful for what you said about that…Jesus wanting to give us rest.
Beth WIlliams says
If Jesus took the time to go away and rest then how much more important is it for us to do the same? God made us in His image and likeness. That means we need/yearn for rest and quiet.
The end of 2013 and this year have been “hard” for me. My aging father decided that he could no longer live alone. He has OCD, dementia and essential tremors-getting worse. We found an assisted living facility for him. In January they had an opening and he moved in. It was surreal in a way–I had hoped and prayed that he would die in his apartment. For about 2 months he seemed to like living there. Then something happened and he started behaving “differently”.
His doctor tried some different sleep medications that did not work. Then he ended up in hospital ER and was admitted for 4 days with 11 days of rehab. Finally back to assisted living facility. For much of that time I had family come and stay with me to assist me. Praise God for that.
He still had trouble accepting his “loss of control” over his life. His dementia seems to be getting a little worse and he has had other medical issues. He has finally come to accept the fact that he needs to be there and is somewhat content.
Throughout this ordeal I was not sleeping well and find myself in a job that has changed such I no longer like it & feel this is not the field I should have gone into. Both of these situations created a stressful environment for me. Tears have flowed like rivers and I have felt down and depressed much of this time. Just plain worn out.
Today (06/01/14) after another semi sleepless night my hubby and I decided to stay home from church. We have snuggled some and talked, but mostly I am using this day to get the spiritual whitespace I need. Just listening to Praise and Worship music and resting in God. It feels wonderful. I feel almost reborn and so much less frazzled.
Prayers for everyone to receive the spiritual whitespace they need!
“When Jesus was surrounded by pressing needs, Scripture tell us –
“Jesus would often slip away
to the wilderness for prayer.” Luke 5:16”
Thank you for this reminder.
Thank you Bonnie, that was so inspiring, I’m tempted to lie next to my little toddler who’s taking a nap next to me. He certainly knows when to put it all down, since it’ll all still be here when he wakes up.
I want to be clear that I do not want to discount ANYBODY’s desire for the kind of rest that is being described here in the comments, the blog, and so forth. Please forgive me if I’m writing from ignorance (I haven’t read the _White Space_ book), but I did want to add this caution about what I think happens with me, with some of my other friends who have “all-or-nothing” personalities.
I want to add a comment here about how we might warp this concept of rest…and just to remind folks (as others have) that the resting that Jesus did was actually quite active and purposeful. I do think that the spirit of most of everyone’s comments points to a purposeful rest, a “being still,” a “waiting,” that takes spiritual discipline and desire for the Father. In this way, He truly increases and we decrease. Ann Voskamp’s book reminds us that it is the discipline of giving thanks that slows things down, and it actually takes a lot of work to do this.
But here’s my practical concern. Some of us–in our pursuit of rest and keeping away from busy-ness–can swing, like a pendulum, toward *unplugging* from meaningful, purposeful service to our Lord and to others.
My concern here is that I’ve been watching some friends talk about their need to “unplug,” what they might consider “rest,” and then they become turtles in their shells, becoming almost obsessed with the problems in their lives, unable to gain perspective because they have removed themselves from their usual circles of service and accountability. Instead of unplugging in order to be at rest in Jesus, in order to bring our troubles to Him, some of us might unplug in order to avoid the stress of problems. (And hence, I do not think that when we do this kind of disconnecting that we are actually “at rest.”)
If anyone has any ideas for managing that pendulum swinging to the point where folks “shut down” or become *disconnected* from other believers, from accountability, from service, etc., I’d love to hear them. Since I think that this kind of behavior occurs in the “all-or-nothing” personalities, I wonder the extent to which the time spent with the Lord can help mediate this extremism. (And, perhaps this concern is addressed in the book, and I should read it.)
I to need to stop and rest.
Thank you Bonnie for sharing your heart and wisdom. I hope to get and read your book. I, as each of us do, have my own issues and the need to be able to learn to rest. I have addictive personality problems that keep bringing me down. Anyhow, thank you for loving people.
Hi, just want you to know I just bought your book on my kindle and am very excited to read it after reading a sample. I have felt for awhile now that my life has just spiraled out of control leaving me feeling like I am in the centre spinning. I feel exhausted all the time. Have struggled with anxiousness and fears and have felt continuously stressed by any little thing that has come along. I have lost somewhere the peace of just being still in God’s presence and have felt grieved at the loss I have experienced in my spiritual life. I read a quote on pinterest the other day “I have felt like running away more times in my adult life than I ever did as a child” and I can so relate to it. I have just wanted to stop trying and walk away from everything just to find a quiet still life again. But I know that is not the answer at all. I am looking forward to taking the journey that you took by reading your book to hear from someone out there who has felt and has gone through similar crisis’s in their life. Thank you.
Bonnie Lester says
I do not know if your website takes submissions. If they do I would like to submit this to you. A moment of clarity:Day three of positive experiences:
A broken spirit is a really good thing!
Isaiah 61:10The Voice (VOICE)
10 I am filled with joy and my soul vibrates with exuberant hope,
because of the Eternal my God;
For He has dressed me with the garment of salvation,
wrapped me with the robe of righteousness.
It’s as though I’m dressed for my wedding day,[a]…
in the very best: a bridegroom’s garland and a bride’s jewels.
Wow, where do I start? This is another gorgeous day. Flowers in bloom, grass is so green, birds everywhere and when I was outside with my old irish setter I realized how nice it is to just slow down and appreciate my surroundings and the beauty of nature. I always was under the assumption that I had to get away from it all to relax and find beauty in such simple things…not so at all.
So I am thankful today that my life changed so drastically three years ago. I stopped working as a nurse in 2011. My husband Kenny said it was killing me and that not only could I physically not take the stress and strain but emotionally and spiritually it had simply worn me down. I’ve dealt with chronic pain for thirty years, that in itself is so wearing on your body and spirit, but also on my soul. I actually thought I was handling it very well. ..Just on the outside. I was really good at my job and I loved being an advocate for excellent patient care. I met so many strong patients going thru awful gut wrenching physical problems. I prided myself on the fact that they felt comfortable talking to me about not only their physical ailments, but family issues, and even financial issues. I felt that God had taught me at a very young age of 12 that I had a heart for caring for others. I lost my mother to a brain tumor at 15. My siblings were 12, 8, and 3. My father was overwhelmed by so much. I started caring for my mom at 12. During the course of this disease, I saw her go from being a vivacious woman with boundless energy, to losing her vision, much of her hearing, and so many other things. But the woman, was a force of nature. She didn’t complain and she was always joyful thru the worst of it. She loved my dad so much and her children were her life. But, there was more…her joy and strength came from The Lord. She would tell me at the tender formative tween and teen years of how Jesus was the great physician, our Father, our rock and strength. She even told me that God had plan the perfect husband for me even though I didn’t know who it was then…I met Kenny at 16, end of story. We fell deeply in love and got married two days after I graduated from Nursing school. We have been married 30 years, and going strong.
Moms favorite passage was In Isaiah40…we adopted this passage as our family verse:
28 Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. 29 He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. 30 Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. 31 But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:28-31 NLT).
I saw a lot of deterioration from a vibrant mom to a mom engrossed in Gods word. I remember that like yesterday with amazing clarity. She was a true witness to her Fathers grace and mercy…and peace! God carried me then just as she taught me he would. He ingrained in my mind and heart the peace that passes all understanding.
She also didn’t have time to feel sorry for herself…she had a new baby boy to raise. She called my brother her grace baby. She always loved her girls , but to say she was over the moon when she found out she was having a son would be an understatement. She was just crazy in love with her baby boy. She had an uneventful pregnancy, and truly enjoyed every moment of it. My brother was the worlds happiest baby. A true joy to all of us. I tried so hard to remember every little nuance of his childhood so that he would have memories of his mommy. Good memories.
God brought some wonderful friends and family into our lives to help me ,help my mom and dad. I treasure those people to this day.
I was a strong willed and independent gal who grew up too fast, but lived thru it by Gods grace.
He carried me then as he carries me now. I am so thankful (now) for all the speed bumps he put in my way to slow me down and give me joy to share with others. I fully admit, I lost that joy and peace for a very long time…thinking I could do it on my own. I’m so thankful for my husband who knew me so well, that he was not afraid to tell me how truly unhappy I had become. I could go on for days about just how truly perfect he was to be my partner in this crazy often tumultuous life that we have shared. We went thru joy, and sadness, good times and awful times. We went thru numerous health issues, two bankruptcies, loss of jobs and friends/family. We found the best church family ever and saw growth that would carry us even now. We were blessed beyond measure.
My sister tells me that she has seen me become a recluse but now reaching out to others to give not medical knowledge, but love and comfort. He has brought people into my life even now 35years after losing my mom, telling me of how they saw Gods love and joy in her. My prayer is that even now as my life is very simple as far as material things, that people will see that same joy, peace , and comfort from our loving Father thru my life too.
My husband, Kenny’s, favorite verse is Jeremiah 29:11…For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11 NLT)
Take God up on the offer to show you his plans for you. He truly does know our needs, our hurts, everything! I have found that a broken spirit is not a bad thing. Because only when we are broken, can we understand the depths of his love.
So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.
Stand firm against the Devil , and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are. In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation.
My purpose in writing is to encourage you and assure you that what you are experiencing is truly part of God’s grace for you. Stand firm in this grace. (1 Peter 5:6-7, 9-10, 12 NLT) See More