Two weeks ago on Sunday morning, I got up early, put the kettle on and went to the garage. A stack of cloth covered journals I’d harvested from an attic box were waiting for my attention. Stepping over box flaps layered in dusty strings of spider webs and insect remains stuck to duct tape, I felt giddy with expectancy about leafing through the pages from three decades of my life. What I found surprised me.
I remembered snapshots from the past accurately. And the essence of who I am hasn’t changed a bit.
Perhaps this isn’t surprising to you, especially if you’ve known me through those time periods. The surprising part is the perception I have of myself. It is often inaccurate. Cue my husband rolling his eyes, grinning while sarcastically chiding, “Duh, ya think?”
Of course H is a bit biased about my gifts. Can I be honest? Sometimes I discount the affirmation of those closest to me because I assume their opinions are slanted and thus not accurate. As if love is a window shade blocking broad perspective. Yet the very people who know my flaws, inconsistencies and weaknesses choose me anyway, the same way Jesus chooses relationship with us daily.
God is showing me, like a father waving his index finger, to stop and notice. You too?
His thoughts toward you and I are often voiced through the people who know us intimately and still choose to love us. Pay attention. Believe the life giving words spoken over you. And then write them down somewhere so you won’t forget them.
In her book, Finding Spiritual Whitespace, Bonnie Gray writes, “Spiritual rest is a journey of awakening our hearts to fully receive.”
This is why I choose Sabbath weekly and practice in community with nearly 300 people. Its why instead of tidying the living room or washing a sink full of Saturday night dishes, I sit on my porch reading personal history. I need to hear His thoughts toward me more than I need to accomplish.
Choosing whitespace to remember gives timely perspective. Perhaps he is nudging you too?
I’m nodding with the truth written throughout Bonnie’s story.
“Finding spiritual whitespace isn’t about carving out an hour of time to escape the things that stress us. It’s the opposite. It’s getting away from everything we do to distract ourselves from all the hidden places – in order to nurture our soul. It’s getting away from the lie that spiritual rest is something we have to work hard at in order to get closer to God.”
Last Sunday, after a walk on the beach, I sat on the couch next to my Aunt Paula flipping through yellowing pages of photographs covered in cellophane. Visiting from Oklahoma to attend my daughter’s high school graduation, the serendipity touched me.
We lived together when I was the age of my daughter. As a young, single, high school teacher, she agreed to take me in after I refused to continue living with my mother’s struggle with alcoholism.
Remembering the joy in our poverty, we laughed at the avocado green chair and goldenrod plaid couch covered in a crocheted afghan. Marveling over living in a one bedroom apartment, my sleeping on a small cot, and the prom dress she sewed for me from the kitchen table. Aware of the juxtaposition of abundance in the present, thankfulness blossomed on our faces.
As the child of an alcoholic, I identify with Bonnie’s book as she writes about the struggle to discover her authentic shelf. It is a haunting, redemptive account of an onslaught of PTSD during the process of writing her memoir. When the emergence of childhood memories shatters coping mechanisms, it leads to a path of healing and restoration. And just like Bonnie, the whitespace of rest is where I find my authentic voice and the courage to move beyond survival. I like what I see in myself when I the take time to stop and notice.
I’m giving away one copy of Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Rest to one lucky person who responds in the comments to one or both of the following questions from Chapter 3.
Do you find it hard or easy to receive? How is God taking you on a journey to rest and receive more deeply?
A winner will be selected on Monday of next week.