Roy Lessin reminds us: “Everyone is a seeker. We seek because there is something we need, something that is missing, something that tells us there must be more.”
We seek contentment, happiness, fulfillment, security, acceptance, hope, love, joy, peace, friendship, balance, and, often, to find meaning, as well as our place in this world.
For those who have been regularly following my blog posts, you’ll remember that a while back I read the book Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Rest by Bonnie Gray. Since then, I have shared many of my favorite quotes, and decided to take an active part in her 21 Days of Rest Blog Tour. Little did I know, at the time, what a commitment that would be. Of course, Bonnie did not ask me or her other followers to do this but I had discovered a lot of really good thoughts from her book that I wanted to share. However, I wasn’t always able to “keep up,” and I began to feel like I took on more than I should have.
Because of this, as well as several other poor choices, Lysa TerKeurst’s latest book, The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands, is now on my “to be read” list. Lysa points out that “there is a big difference between saying yes to everyone and saying yes to God.” Those of us who are people pleasers or stressed by an “overwhelmed schedule and underwhelmed soul” will likely get a great deal out of this book and the tools provided in it for better processing our thoughts and actions. If you haven’t heard of this book yet, click on the link above and read more about it.
In Finding Spiritual Whitespace, Bonnie shares that “The world calls us to hide our stressed-out selves. But Jesus calls us to a radical new rest. … Jesus invites us into a new relationship to set our hearts free. Jesus wants us to bring him what’s real and worrisome as well as what’s simple and beautiful.”
“Taking time for whitespace to rest, create, and play—
to laugh, enjoy friends, see new places,
and explore new adventures—
is heart-freeing faith.”
On Bonnie’s post for Day 20: Find Me in the Quiet Places: A Little Big Change, she shares some of the ways that she seeks rest from stress and/or the daily grind by choosing to meet Jesus in the quiet spaces. These moments don’t have to be long or regularly scheduled; the “moments will come, if you listen to your soul…”
As you come to a fork in the road in your day today and this week — between choosing the quiet or filling it up with doing, performing, pleasing, or disappearing — stop.
Choose what’s harder, but more soul-filling.
Choose to spend that time doing something no one would be able to point at it and say, “She is someone. She did something.”
And choose to be loved instead.
On Day 21, Bonnie posted Me & the Military: It Changed Me to share with her readers the results of her first multi-day Spiritual Whitespace Retreat, which she was invited to lead for the Wounded Transition Battalion headquartered in Fort Campbell, KY. (The retreat was held earlier in September in Nashville, TN.) While she originally intended to speak to soldiers, the focus changed and she ended up working with a group of officers and their wives. She asked herself: “What does a Chinese-American 5 foot woman born in San Francisco, Chinatown — who suffered PTSD for the past two years with broken memories, uncontrollable anxiety and insomnia — have to say to officers caring for injured soldiers, wounded from the battlefield?”
Leaders who have been in combat themselves are reliving [their experiences] through the soldiers they care for 24 hours-a-day, on-call 7 days a week. Phone calls wake them up at crazy hours during the night. By day, they look into eyes of soldiers who are confused, angry or depressed to guide them on the disorienting journey of healing and recovery. They are responsible for each soldier’s disorienting transition back to active duty, or for some with irreversible injuries, prepare them for the unexpected re-entrance into civilian life.
It’s soul-wearying work.
It’s a heavy burden to carry because it’s often the strong ones — the encouragers – the doers –
who carry the heaviest burdens,
and incur the greatest emotional and physical cost,
who find it hard to express want or need,
while finding it easier to just get things done,
even if they truly long to receive comfort,
yet can’t seem to give themselves permission to rest.
Like many of us who doubt ourselves, Bonnie’s biggest fear was whether she was good enough, qualified enough, to lead this group on a soul journey toward discovery and rest. Then it struck her: The weekend was about experiencing Spiritual Whitespace, not teaching it. The event included storytelling, journaling, connecting to God through silence and solitude on a solo nature walk or through prayer and meditation, even painting. It was about facing fears and becoming real in community. And it was successful!
We all have stories…
On the outside, we might look different. But, inside, we’re all on the same journey.
We’re all on the same mission.
To be loved.
To be known.
To be close to God.
To each other.
We all long for rest…
We can all live lives that include rest and refreshment by taking the time to develop an intimacy, a deep relationship, with Jesus. He knows what moves us and encourages us; he knows what spiritual whitespace looks like for each of us. And once we discover the ways our own needs for renewal can be met—through nature, music, God’s Word, song lyrics, art (our own creativity or that of others), etc.—we can reach out and help others discover the beauty, the transformational nature, the freeing power, of walking in faith with Jesus in the quiet of our hearts.