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See Yourself As God Sees You

I want you to learn to look at yourself — and others — through the lens of My unfailing Love. As you persevere in this you will gradually find it easier to love yourself and others.

Jesus speaking in “Jesus Always: Embracing Joy in His Presence” by Sarah Young

Meditating on your true identity is a beneficial Christian mindfulness exercise. In Jesus Always, Sarah Young tells us that Jesus says: “You are troubled by fear of failure, but My Love for you will never fail. Let Me describe what I see as I gaze at you, beloved. You look regal, for I have crowned you in My righteousness and crowned you with glory and honor. You are radiant, especially when you are looking at Me. You are beautiful as you reflect My Glory back to Me.”

Seeing ourselves as God sees us brings peace. It also opens up a wave of compassion for others.

“A Guide to Practicing the God’s Presence” by Kenneth Boa and Jenny Abel recommends this exercise. It also provides a long list of identity scriptures for meditation. You can download the 211-page book for free here.

To do the Christian mindfulness exercise:

Choose one or two of the Scriptures below (or in any list of identity Bible verses). Pick one that you truly believe reflects how God sees you.

Write down the Scripture and place it on your bedside. Before you go to sleep, read the Scripture and meditate on it.

Some appropriate Scriptures include:

“But as many received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12)

“I am the vine; you are the branches. He who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

“I call you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father, I have made known to you.” (John 15:15b)

“Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.” (Romans 15:7)

“Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16)

“But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him.” (1 Corinthians 6:17)

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature. The old things have passed away. Behold, new things have come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

“There is neither Jew nor Greek. There is neither slave nor free man. There is neither male nor female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)

Laughter and Mindfulness

Laughter is one of the best ways to feel mindful. It has so many benefits that the Mayo Clinic has a whole article on them, found here. The most surprising benefits are the positive impacts on your body!

My general rule is: If you haven’t laughed hard by 8 p.m., watch or read something funny. Deliberately try to laugh.

After you laugh, bring awareness to the way your body .. your chest especially … feels. Do you feel less stress? How about your mood? Did laughter lighten it?

Bring the Lord into your laughter with a prayer of gratitude.

If you would like more, laughing meditation is actually a thing. Here’s a video showing you how:

Let me know if you try this. And how it works for you!

Bringing God to the Table

The practice of mindful eating as a Christian gives us the opportunity to experience the presence of God in the present moment two or three times a day. A beautiful essay about the spiritual aspects of mindful eating came from Thich Nhat Hahn, a Buddhist monk and mindfulness teacher, “Mindfulness Survival Kit.”

I am adapting his thoughts to include the presence of God at the meal.

When we eat a meal, we should be mindful of our Lord present with us at the table, the food and the people with us. We can contemplate five things:

  1. The food is a gift from God, the Earth, the sky and much hard work.
  2. May we eat in mindfulness and with gratitude so as to be worthy to receive it.
  3. We ask God to give us the grace to overcome our sins and weaknesses, especially greed, vanity and gluttony.
  4. May we keep our compassion alive by eating in such a way that we reduce the suffering of beings, preserve our planet and reverse the process of global warming.
  5. We accept this food in order to nourish our family, build our community and do God’s will.

Keeping these thoughts in mind is a useful way as we slowly eat and enjoy our meals. Other ideas about mindful Christian eating are here.

family having dinner and celebrating

Try Mindful Eating

This Christian mindfulness exercise helps us eat with mindfulness and gratitude. Practicing mindful eating is a big leap for me.

Growing up, I ate as quickly as possible at the dinner table so I could be excused. My parents were undergoing a tense period when I was young. And I didn’t want to be around the sarcasm and disagreements. My husband is still amazed at how fast I can scarf down a plate of food.

Christian mindfulness calls for us to appreciate our food as a gift from God and to enjoy every bite. This technique is also used in weight loss, for it allows us to understand when we have had enough food.

Here’s the exercise:

  • Begin each meal with a prayer of thanksgiving. Some ideas for prayer at the table are here.
  • Then put down your fork or spoon between each bite.
  • Concentrate on the taste.
  • Only pick up your fork again when you have finished eating the bite.
  • If you are eating something with your hands, put it down on the plate between bites.

A meal together is also a good time to talk about how you experience God in your day. Sharing the best things that happened to you that day also creates opportunities for deep conversation and understanding.

Other thoughts on mindful eating are here.

Make a Joy List

As we begin to peek outside our homes during this I-hope-this-is-the-end-of-the-pandemic period, let’s enjoy this Christian mindfulness exercise. We want to make a list of activities that bring us joy. Then we will place one of those activities into our schedules on a regular basis.

Time at home has given us an appreciation for those things we do there that bring peace . And an even greater appreciation — even, a longing — for the things we do outside the home that bring joy. Use what you’ve learned from the pandemic to build this list.

Take 10 minutes to make a list of what you love to do, people you love to see and places that bring you peace. Then get those activities into your own scheduling system. Make sure you are doing several of them a week.

We’ve all discovered that life can change at any minute. Keep joy in your life intentionally. It will give you more grace and strength to do good works.

man with online schedule filled with appointments

Time for Divine Appointments?

As we enter Holy Week, it’s a good time to ask: Can you fit God into your schedule? This Christian mindfulness practice asks for reflection on how much margin you are leaving in your to-do list. Is there enough space for God to schedule divine appointments for you?

Take a look at your calendar for the last month. I’m seeing more activity as spring arrives and people are vaccinated. Reflect on these questions:

  • Have you taken on too many appointments and projects?
  • Do you feel that you have no choice in the matter … that you are assigned too much or “volun-told” to do things too often?
  • Do you go directly from one task to the next without stopping?
  • Do you care more about your kids’ activities than they do?
  • Are you double-booked at times?
  • Do you say “yes” to activities that seem “high-profile” or flattering, but drain you?

Answering “yes” to these questions mean that you need to work on adding margin to your life and perhaps learning the skill of saying “no” to requests, even when they are framed as orders. (When I got overwhelmed with work, I used to bring my boss a list of my deliverables and ask her to prioritize them. The boss who was TERRIBLE at prioritization responded, “I want you to do them all.” Looking closely at her work style … working 7 to 9, being triple-booked and forgetting to put in time to drive to meetings … caused me to look for a new job.)

After analyzing this, ask God to help you develop a criteria for accepting new requests or invitations. Then run every request through the criteria.

Everyone’s list will be different. But for ideas, here are some of the statements on my list:

  • Biblically sound and seems to be God’s will as far as prayer indicates.
  • Glorifies God.
  • Brings me closer to God.
  • Will be loving to my neighbor, advance the kingdom and/or be a force for good.
  • Is good for my family.
  • Fits with my life calling.
  • Can best be done by me. (Cannot be delegated.)
  • Should not be eliminated or delayed.

If the proposed activity will take big blocks of your time, consider going to your spouse for input.

Even if your schedule is relatively open, having this criteria is helpful. This idea is from “A Guide to Practicing God’s Presence” by Kenneth Boa and Jenny Abel. A free pdf of this book is available here.

Forgive the Obnoxious

This Christian mindfulness exercise at the end of the workweek to clear your head and your heart. Working, either in a paid or unpaid role, puts most of us on the front line for dealing with people. Unfortunately, we meet our fair share of people who are rude, hypercritical, negative or toxic in any of a dozen other ways. Sometimes, the drip, drip, drip of this kind of behavior can get to us.

This exercise gives us the opportunity to bring those emotions to the Lord and to forgive. Here’s how:

  1. Shut your office door or find another place where you can have privacy for 10 minutes or so.
  2. Take some deep breaths.
  3. Allow your feelings … anger, disgust, sadness … to come into focus. Go before the Lord with these feelings. God already knows how you feel. So bring them to Him.
  4. Ask God to help you to forgive all the actions that have upset you.
  5. Quietly see the faces of each person who has troubled you this week. Ask God to help you see each one as wounded. Think about how their behavior has to do with their own issues, rather than with you.
  6. Ask God to show you how you may be helping that person to heal. Or just pray for their healing.
  7. Ponder whether you contributed to any of these problems. Do you need to apologize to someone? Do you need to change the way you relate to someone?
  8. Thank God for the opportunity to do your work. Ask Him to be with you for the rest of the day.

And Justice for All

The first days of spring allow us to look back at “a long, cold, lonely winter,” as George Harrison wrote. Those days were the worst of the pandemic for me. They also showed cracks and weaknesses in the United States that I never suspected.

Even at its worst, the pandemic year has offered us opportunities. We’ve had a chance to clearly see systemic issues in our system of justice and in our American hearts.

As children, we turned to face the flag each school day to pledge allegiance to a nation that offered liberty and justice for all. We were taught that this meant standing up for our rights and the rights of others. Even during Jim Crow days, this is what we were taught.

One of the greatest opportunities coming out of the pandemic is to address systemic issues. It’s horrifying that people are attacking elderly Asian-Americans in the streets. It’s clear that African-Americans do not always have the same encounters with the police that whites do.

As we seek ways to improve our promise of justice, we start with ourselves. Let’s take time to meditate on our own actions. Do we treat every person as a unique individual, or do we put them in categories in our minds?

Practicing justice means real freedom of thought. It is as Merriam Webster’s dictionary says, “the quality of being just, impartial and fair.” It’s not about everyone being the same. It’s about access, rights and opportunity. It’s about freedom from being abused because someone who doesn’t know you doesn’t like your looks.

Today as we meet others, let’s listen to our inner voices. Are we detecting any snap judgments based on categories? We can’t change our patterns unless we know they are there.

See the Space

This Christian mindfulness exercise helps you to see the space around you. Not just the furniture, the trees, the clutter … but the space surrounding those things.

Empty space is most of the actual space in the room you are in right now. Perhaps taking time to notice that will help you have the ability to sense the stillness in your inner space, as well as the presence of Lord within and without. Here’s the exercise:

  1. Begin by closing your eyes for a few minutes.
  2. Pray that you can begin to sense the presence of God in your environment.
  3. Open your eyes and look at an object in front of you.
  4. Notice the space around that object and focus on it.
  5. Shift to other objects and do the same thing, looking at the empty space in front of, behind, on top of and at the bottom of the object.
  6. Take a look at a full room or an outdoor space. Shift from observing the objects there to observing the space.
  7. Quiet your heart. Ask again for an infilling of God’s presence around you.
  8. Listen to your thoughts and look for the spaces between them.

What You Are Doing Right

Today’s Christian mindfulness practice is about taking a deep look at what we are doing right. We all know we are not doing alone. God’s grace and presence accompanies us as we do our work.

Notice the good you are doing. What roles are you playing in creating a force for good? Raising children? Being a loving partner? Serving a good cause and/or a good church? Bringing a godly perspective to a business? Think about all the places where you contribute.

Be mindful about how those roles unfold today. Stay in the present moment and notice the things you do that support these goals. Look for the good.

Praise God for his grace and support. Each time you find yourself doing a good work, no matter how small, praise God for his presence in that act.

This Christian mindfulness practice can build optimism and awareness of God’s work in your life. He is good, and you are doing good with Him. Celebrate that today.