Love In A Big World: Rest

March 27th, 2017

Did you know the average adult spends 10+ hours on screen per day? And the average kid spends 7+ hours consuming entertainment media? Being constantly bombarded with news, information, opinions and entertainment causes many of us to feel overwhelmed. Our society in general tends to want to keep us busy ... too busy to interact ... too busy to talk to get to know one another ... too, too busy. What I’ve been wondering about this week is what we need to do to stop the noise.

Part of doing the work of social and emotional learning is taking the time to attend to the needs of the heart. It means making space for conversation and reflection. To accomplish this we must slow down and give ourselves and our children permission to rest. It is perfectly acceptable — no, absolutely essential — to stop the busyness. This is not about doing, it is about being: being with God, being with ourselves and being with each other. A regular question to ask in order to raise awareness of the heart is, “How is your heart today?” and accepting the fact that some days we are doing well and other days we are not. It is OK to not be OK. Jesus accepts us in our mess. We are people in process. Being authentic and sharing this process with our children is a gift. This is not about rules; this is about relationship.

I have discovered that contemplative prayer is part of my resting.

I have been a Christian my whole life. My parents and grandparents are believers. I made my first decision to follow Jesus when I was five years old while watching a Christian show on television. Growing up in the church, I heard a lot of people pray. I began having my own conversations with God when I was eight or nine. But in my twenties, I began to look more carefully at what I believed and why I believed what I believed. It was a deconstruction process, triggered by traumatic life events as well as my natural development as a young adult.

During this time, I came face to face with the reality that I was a sinner in need of a Savior, and I again decided to follow Jesus. However, I was dissatisfied with my prayer life. It seemed as though I was either coming to God with my wish list or up in arms. Like a child anticipating Santa’s visit, I thought that if I was good enough — if I had enough faith, if I prayed hard enough, if I prayed long enough, if I prayed loud enough, if I said the names of God enough — then Jesus would answer my prayers just the way I prayed them. Or I was like a soldier battling the devil with Scripture, raising my voice in authority over the evil one. In both instances I was really was praying out of fear; either fear that Father God would not provide for me, my loved ones and our needs or fear that the devil was going to get us. I knew that something had to change.

I started investigating contemplative prayer. I had heard the term before, but it was mysterious to me. What is it? How do I do it? Does it work? I began reading authors like Henri Nouwen, Mother Teresa, St. Teresa of Lisieux, C.S. Lewis, Macrina Wiederkehr. I realized that what I long suspected was true: there are no easy answers or quick fixes even for believers. Jesus is not a band-aid; He is my Savior. And I need a Savior.

As a result of the changes in my thinking about who I am and who God is, my prayer life began to change. I don’t remember how it happened, but it did. Instead of trying to get what I wanted from God, I began to be still in His presence. I started listening more. The practice of Lectio Divina*, Scripture-based meditative prayer, helped immensely with this change.

I continued to mention my needs as well as the needs of my family and friends, but I didn’t feel like I had to twist God’s arm in order to get Him to act. The burden was not on me to make something happen. I was simply bringing people to Jesus through prayer like the father brought his son to Jesus. It is up to Jesus to heal, deliver, and save. My job is to bring people to Him. I think this is when I began to accept that God is God and I am not.

Although I have practiced this type of prayer in one way or another for many years, I have not been as devoted to it as I was in the past. Recently, I’ve felt drawn back. Deep is calling to deep.

If I don’t have time to be still and know that He is God, I start to feel like I’m spinning out of control. I become a whirlwind of thoughts and emotions, reacting to my circumstances rather than thinking through my words and actions. When I am centered, however, I am able to face the crazy busyness of life. I am not a lost ship on a stormy sea; I am anchored.

In our fast-paced world, I believe it is imperative that we teach our kids to put away the screens and spend quiet time resting in God’s presence. Some things about life and faith are better caught than taught. What are our kids learning from our example?

*To explore more about Lectio Divina or Divine Reading with children, check out This practice is part of each lesson.

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