When that happens, I know it’s time for me to sit up and listen. It’s usually the Lord speaking.
This week I’ve had synchronicity around the idea of growing so close to the Lord that I can reflect His love to others. As Mother Teresa always said, we start with the people in front of us. Yes, pray for others. But also become aware that God may ask you to be the answer to their prayers.
A devotional I got from Renovare by Jonathan R. Bailey said it best:
Spiritual formation begins and ends with love. … The way of Christ is not about earning righteousness or self-development. It’s the total transformation of the human personality into the likeness of Jesus Christ: body, mind, heart and soul.
When the Spirit awakens us with his love, we come to see ourselves utterly known and loved by God. There’s nothing we can do to make him love us more, and there’s nothing we can do to make him love us less.Jonathan R. Bailey, “The Eternal Journey”
The best way to start your day is to practice the presence of Jesus as you wake up in bed. Here are five quick ways to bring Christian mindfulness to the first minutes of your morning.
- Choose a gentle alarm clock. For decades, I woke up to the sound of ocean waves in a sunrise simulation alarm clock similar to this one.
- Once your eyes are open, say: “This is the day the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.”
- Breathe deeply: In to the count of three. Hold for the count of four. Exhale for the count of five. Do this as needed until you feel centered, thanking God for the gift of breath.
- If you are sleeping beside a spouse, a child or even a pet, pray a prayer of gratitude for them.
- Listen to the sounds of the house and the world outside. Again thank God for the new day.
Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.Vaclav Havel
God is sovereign, even if we don’t understand what He is doing and fear the results. For more thoughts on hope in a time of pandemic and protest, click here.
The pandemic has made us more mindful about our hands. We take much more care about what our fingers touch. And we wash our hands more thoroughly and more often. This heightened awareness can be coupled with the following Christian mindfulness exercise.
Put something on your dominant hand, like a Band-Aid, a different ring or a mark with a pen. This will help you notice your hands more frequently during this exercise.
Then, when you touch something or someone, do it with intentional kindness. Be gentle and aware. Feel grateful for the things you touch. Feel love for the people you are touching.
Think of the kind touch of Jesus. He reached out to the leper. He created furniture and bowls from wood. He did it all with love. With His grace, we can bring more love to our daily round.
Another Christian mindfulness practice involving touch during the pandemic is here.
Social distancing can result in upsetting conversations over Zoom and via social media. This is particularly true when we reach out to others who are upset, one way or the other, over systemic racism and/or the pandemic and/or everything.
Working with the Holy Spirit, our Comforter, we can detox from these conversations to return to deep inner peace. It involves, first, identifying how we are feeling. Angry? Disgusted? Sad?
Rather than running away or ignoring the feeling, accept it. Lift it up to the Holy Spirit in prayer. Gently listen to your own thoughts in Christian mindfulness, returning to deep breathing and the Jesus prayer when needed.
Next, calm your feelings. Ask Jesus to be with you as you take care of yourself like you would take care of an upset child. Be fully mindful of your own state. Remember: God is here. God is now. He is with you in your pain and sorrow.
As you calm down, release the emotion to God. As you release, listen. Do you hear a message about something you should do or not do? Did this upset come from a sin area or a false way that you see yourself or the world?
Just keep calming and releasing the problem to God, being willing to do His will. If you are listening in humility, God will be there in a transformational way.
Walking in Christian mindfulness through ongoing pandemic and racial injustice requires faith that abiding in Jesus will bring us peace. In reading Thich Nhat Hanh’s “Peace Is Every Step,” I found that Buddhists believe achieving inner peace is necessary to achieving a peaceful world.
In the introduction, the Dalai Lama writes: “Although attempting to bring about world peace through internal transformation of individuals is difficult, it is the only way. Wherever I go, I express this, and I am encouraged that people from many different walks of life receive it well. Peace must first be developed within an individual. And I believe that love, compassion and altruism are the fundamental basis for peace.”
As a Christian, I think we achieve true inner peace by abiding in Jesus. For me, His graces are necessary to overcoming my anxious nature. All the Christian mindfulness exercises I do … and the Buddhist exercises that I adapt … are ways to practice opening the door to God.
An explanation of the differences between Buddhist mindfulness and Christian mindfulness is here.
Jesus says the kingdom of heaven is within us. I do agree that prayer, study and Christian mindfulness practices help us all to walk left-foot, right-foot with God in love, compassion and altruism.
To expect that we cannot achieve peace until everyone is on that path is sad. But I do agree with the Buddhists that inner transformation makes outer peace easier. To be like Jesus … willing to meet people where they are in love … is the path forward.
Living in a fallen world has been especially tough this year. Anger, fear, anxiety … it’s all fallout from a time of protest and pandemic. Brokenness is all around us as well as within us.
I was feeling worried and weary recently. Then Jesus reminded me of a great truth: He wants me to be at peace and without fear. The only way I can do that in a fallen world is to keep my focus on Him.
Focusing on the presence of Jesus gives us strength to do what we need to do. Jesus wants us to live without fear, and He gives us the ability to do that. But we have to focus on Him.
That doesn’t mean that we ignore the pandemic or the issues that are causing the protests. We seek Jesus first, and He gives us all the strength, courage and wisdom we need to do what is right. And he gives us joy and peace as we abide in Him.
“The Lord your God is with you. He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you. He will quiet you with His love. He will rejoice over you with singing.” — Zephaniah 3:17
Today is National Get Outdoors Day for 2020. It’s a good time to think back: Do you remember the endless summers of your childhood? I loved mine.
Is there something from those days that you can bring back into your routine? Swimming pools? Old movies on hot afternoons? Reading in a homemade tent in the back yard? Making real lemonade?
The summer ahead is going to be a little odd. Our neighborhood swimming pool is closed, and many of the regular adventures are curtailed. But we can buy a blow-up pool for the back porch to cool our feet in!
We can also take devotionals and prayer books to the woods or to a metro garden to spend time worshipping God within His creation.
Make a plan to do something outdoors to bring back those wonderful summers. After all, we don’t know how many summers we each have left.