On the list of questions I don’t want to ask myself, this one ranks pretty high.
I admit I am not living the life I want. I wonder: Are you?
I have this vision of a slower life, a simple pace and a schedule that allows me to cook homemade dinners for my family, tend to a garden, pray, finish the books I’ve been reading all year, study my Bible more intently, read endlessly with my toddler (well, until her attention wanes), create art and laugh with my older children, go on long leisurely dates with my husband, write to my heart’s content and earn enough money in a job where I get to help other people that I have time for all of this.
This is fantasy, of course. But I think it would make God smile, because it’s my heart’s desire. I think He wants me to have it, too, but I am not sure how.
But here are the thoughts that immediately come to mind:
Live with less. That’s a possibility and a distinct reality I’ve lived. Using Financial Peace University, we changed our spending (and borrowing) habits before. There’s almost always something that can be cut from our budget. If only I can find the time to sit down and discover what that is! Since the teens are sucking the most out of our budget, it’s a great opportunity to sit down with them and teach them about money, too. Of course, I can’t help but think it’s time for my middle child to experience a mission trip where he can see up close and personal poverty that he could not even imagine. But that costs money.
Faith. A mission trip, while frugal-sounding, requires a lot of faith. I’ve been there before. Many times. And God has been faithful. So I don’t want to be so practical, so black-and-white, so rigid with rules that I miss the opportunity to be part of something God wants me to experience.
Relationship with Jesus. So often, I try to do all the heavy lifting in life. If only we had a bit more money almost certainly means I should work more. This is a mindset that I constantly struggle with. I am again feeling God calling me out into mission work — not just any mission work but the kind that involves serving those who cannot afford to pay for my help. That means finding supporters and sponsors, and it’s the least favorite part of this for me. The only way I can even manage this is to draw close to Christ, even as I resist. He has the answers, and I doubt it involves taking on a minimum wage job so I can offer trauma sensitive Holy Yoga to those survivors of trauma who want to reclaim their body and mind.
Where does this leave me?
Instead of being busy doing, it’s time to get busy being. I want my life to reflect my heart: slow, simple, caring, coaching, encouraging, leaving behind fingerprints of God’s work and the miracle that it’s done through His people with skeptical, busy, hurting hearts.
In one of my Holy Yoga classes last week, we meditated on this scripture:
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Psalm 139: 23
It has me really doing some down-on-my-knees work. Clearing space — if not in my schedule, in my mind and heart — to let God be God and do what I can’t do. In my anxiety, I don’t have all the answers. But knowing I’m not supposed to have all the answers can be quite freeing.
What if what I am searching for isn’t really about what’s “out there,” the external stuff, but what’s inside. How I seize every opportunity to be alive in all my emotions, to love bigger, to serve more, to empathize more deeply, to take every opportunity to live inside the moments I’m given — no matter what I’m doing in those moments. The good thing about God is that even in the seasons when I KNOW I’m not making the time for Him that I should, He isn’t the one who makes a fuss out of it. He’s always grateful for when and how I show up. The good news is that “praying without ceasing” and staying connected to the branch don’t come with a long set of rules. In fact, there are no rules at all. Just His love and grace, always present no matter what I’ve done or haven’t done.
Let me leave you with these words, written by Omid Safi, a columnist for the website publication, On Being. This was written three years ago and continues to circulate social media, so powerful the imagery.
“In many Muslim cultures, when you want to ask them how they’re doing, you ask: in Arabic, Kayf haal-ik? or, in Persian, Haal-e shomaa chetoreh? How is your haal?
“What is this haal that you inquire about? It is the transient state of one’s heart. In reality, we ask, ‘How is your heart doing at this very moment, at this breath?’ When I ask, ‘How are you?’ that is really what I want to know.
“I am not asking how many items are on your to-do list, nor asking how many items are in your inbox. I want to know how your heart is doing, at this very moment. Tell me. Tell me your heart is joyous, tell me your heart is aching, tell me your heart is sad, tell me your heart craves a human touch. Examine your own heart, explore your soul, and then tell me something about your heart and your soul.
“Tell me you remember you are still a human being, not just a human doing. Tell me you’re more than just a machine, checking off items from your to-do list. Have that conversation, that glance, that touch. Be a healing conversation, one filled with grace and presence.
“Put your hand on my arm, look me in the eye, and connect with me for one second. Tell me something about your heart, and awaken my heart. Help me remember that I too am a full and complete human being, a human being who also craves a human touch.”
To read the entirety of his column, click HERE.