Are you trying too hard to be at peace? Fighting hard to practice mindfulness?
I feel I am striving too hard to abide in Jesus. Instead of opening the door for Him to enter, I am pounding on the other side of the door … straining to keep pure thoughts and to practice my daily round of spiritual practices. That isn’t necessary, productive or even helpful.
God is already here. Yet I behave as if it all depends on me. Yes, I need to quiet down and let God be present. I am grasping for someone who is all around me, yet my grasp comes up empty. It is only when I relax and submit that I feel God doing the work to allow me to abide in Him.
Is it just me? When I mentioned this in a gathering of Christian friends, I got a lot of blank looks.
Yet, one Christian friend responded with a new phrase I love: Try softer.
That’s the title of a book by therapist Aundi Kolber. She believes we don’t have to white-knuckle our way to God or to life, in general. Her book is a corrective for overfunctioning (one of my greatest issues) and anxiety.
Perhaps I have reached the “let God and let God” phase of my spiritual development. Yet again.
I found some tips on the Woman of Noble Character website that can make this effort to stop the struggle more concrete.
It’s not what I need to stop doing as much as it’s what I need to let God do. Stop struggling to achieve grace and:
- Look for a show of God’s power.
- Accept God’s comfort.
- Let God work things out for the good of those who love Him, including me.
Yes, I need to practice my daily round of spiritual practices. But I need to move forward in a more gentle, open manner, trusting God to do his part. Without God, I can do nothing.
The first back-to-school pictures arrived in my texts today. Pumpkins and autumn foliage line the shelves of craft stores. The pandemic has taken a turn for the worse. At least I held onto my masks made with “fall leaves” fabric. So it’s a good time to create or update your rule of life.
Schedules change. Every year we discover new resources that help us to grow closer to God. So updating a rule of life is an annual practice for me.
For those of you who have not created one, it’s a schedule, more or less, of things you will do on a regular basis to practice the presence of God in the present moment. “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality” by Peter Scazzero contains a chapter on creating a rule. His categories are:
- Silence and Solitude
- Daily Office
- Play and Recreation
- Work and Activity
- Service and Mission
- Care for the Physical Body
- Emotional Health
Under this format, you go through each category to make rules about what you will and will not do.
Sample Rule of Life (It’s Mine)
My rule of life is more of a schedule. Each year, I do go through it to evaluate the helpfulness of each element and update the materials I am using. Here’s a peek:
- Early morning: 20-30 minutes of centering prayer, read through New Testament annually, read a chapter of the Old Testament in chronological order, pray over to-do list, journal
- 10 a.m.: Read one of Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling book series
- Noon: Work listening to Pray as You Go OR do Liturgy of the Hours Office of the Readings OR read morning prayer in “Give Us This Day” magazine
- 3 p.m.: Lectio 365 app
- 5:30 p.m.: Evening prayer in “Give Us This Day” magazine.
- Nighttime: Gratitude list, examen or night prayer in one of these apps: Pray as You Go, Lectio 365, Hallow, Pause or Abide.
Sabbath on Sunday: nature walk, spiritual reading
3rd Sunday: spend an hour reading a book about faith
Spiritual direction appointment (now is quarterly)
Celebrate the Christian calendar
Some feel my rule is excessive, but it has worked, even when I worked full-time. I describe it as handrails that keep me on the path. What would you like in your rule? Let me know.
You can listen to this episode on my podcast Mindful Christian Year by clicking here.