Rythm vs Rut

Over the past few weeks there have been a number of PAUSE and think moments that have challenged me about the way in which my life is lived. I have had to realign goals around health and fitness, I have had to think about what I believe about rest and relaxation, I have had to think about identity vs activity and the theme through all of this in many ways has been about letting go.

My first pause moment really came during a session with my fitness trainer who has had to talk my anxiety down regarding NOT being able to reach the goals that I wanted to before the end of August (I wanted to be running & cycling regularly again and 2 months ago was categorically told that I am not allowed to run. I am allowed MILD to moderate exercise 3 or 4 times a week but more MILD than moderate was the emphasis).

Lana reminded me, again, of controllable vs uncontrollable variables. That I didn’t choose to be in a place where this was the outcome BUT I can choose how I recover from it: I have no control over the fact that this HAS already happened, but I can choose the recovery plan – and the longer and harder I fight that, mentally or emotionally or physically, the longer the recovery plan will be. Controllable variables have meant relooking at goals. Controllable variables have meant redefining what health and fitness is going to look at end of August. Controllable variables mean that there is a little bit of flexibility needing to develop in this life story.

Ironically the exercises the doctor has encouraged are all about flexibility: Yoga, Pilates, stretching and walking! Lana has built the stretching into our training sessions and I have gone looking for appropriate yoga classes/ spaces.

On Saturday I wandered up a piece of the mountain (read steep uphill) with Kate, 2 yoga mats and the intention to stretch and relax outside in the winter sun. During this time, Kate who has been doing this a lot longer than my 2 weeks – reminded me whilst in warrior pose (those of you who know me well will appreciate the irony that follows):

The weird thing is that as you relax into this pose, the stronger you get and as you get stronger, the easier it is to relax.

AHEM! I had just been thinking about ISAIAH 30:15 which reads as follows:

In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it. This piece of scripture goes on to talk about the plans made by people rather than turning to God’s grace and compassion – and a blessing on those who wait for him.

I was in what felt like rhythm of busyness, of activity but actually as I reflect back now: It was a rut of activity where I kept going because I didn’t know how to stop: whether because I didn’t choose to, or didn’t feel like I could, or because of underlying anxiety, it doesn’t matter. It was not a rhythm – it was a rut. Rhythm has energy in it – A rut is about repetitive action. Rhythm has beats and steps which can change – A rut is set and can’t.

So, as this new season and decade begins, it’s time to find the new rhythm, to seek the new beat and to work out what needs to be activity out of a space of identity rather than out of habit and activity; to work out where the flexibility needs to be so that the strength and rest for this next season can develop. It’s about allowing rest and recovery to be significant too.

(Actually I am pretty excited about the possiblities of all this now 🙂 )

Leaning in, Breathing out

Leaning into recovery from burnout so that I can breathe out more – this sounds so poetic and positive and yet some days it’s hard. 

It’s hard when I am determined not to let this dictate my days – and yet my energy goes from feeling fine to needing to collapse into a deep sleep in the space of 3 hours.  Seriously! That is hard to feel grateful for a process in the moment.

It’s hard when despite not wanting to let this dictate my days and decisions I know practically it has to influence some real decisions like how much I work, the timing of planned babies and other such things.

It’s hard when I am used to being able to plan, control and determine what next-  and actually have a plan B (yes, my world is that managed -not sure whether to insert a smiley face or a blushing face here!) for the most part. 

SO leaning in means that I have to lean back and say, it’s okay to breathe out.

Leaning in means I learn to value the breathing out – in the midst of the tears or gratitude or grateful but frustrated tears.

Leaning in means as a friend graciously reminded me again: That this is a season for you to relish being, just being.

Leaning in gives permission to breathe out – leaning in gives permission to say actually I would love to but I can’t

Leaning in gives permission to say thank you I appreciate that without feeling guilt at what I am unable to give back.

Leaning in is the healing and refining process that is deepening in my life.

Leaning in has allowed tangible, concrete and real identification of things that weren’t resolved and breathing out and letting go of the things that I no longer can resolve on my own:  Some days I am tempted to breathe them back in but then the ache in my gut which starts when I do, reminds me to breathe them out.

My doctor told me that I needed to look at stretching, pilates or yoga as a part of the recovery process.  All of these require breathing. 

The Bible speaks of the Spirit breathing life

I am excited most of the time at what is happening. 

It’s the breath of life that is reminding me, of who I am, not what I do. 

It’s the breath of life  that is calling out and redefining what it means to be a peacemaker, compassionate and determined. 

We are in Pentecost in the Christian Calendar.  A season which focuses on the pouring out of the Holy Spirit – what an amazing time to be reminded of the Spirit, Life and leaning in and breathing out.

being smacked in the face by leaves….

Image Some days it feels like there are too many things to do and words that need paper but not enough time to put them down.

Other days it simply means that the introvert part of the outrageous needs to hide.

I have been hiding and recovering from the shock of a sabbatical ending and a new season of work and life and faith starting… new work, deepening relationships, becoming a higher education educator, networking, networking, networking, a back which has forced a slow down period of rest and the reminder when I look outside that it is the season for the old things to be put aside so that new things can come in their stead.

So I am working on BEING STILL (an old but being learnt in a new way discipline) inwardly even when it feels that the wind is howling, being smacked in the face by leaves (is this a metaphor for some of life you may well ask?! Yes actually I can link this a little too well!) and a reminder that actually, I believe in one who calms the storms and goes ahead in the storm.

Be still a little….spring is coming.

Salvation, independence and a deep grief….

Isaiah 30:15 “Your salvation requires you to turn back to me and stop your silly efforts to save yourselves.  Your strength will come from settling down in complete dependence on me – the very thing that you have been unwilling to do” (The Message) 

In the past I have loved this verse – in other versions it speaks of in “repentance and rest is salvation, in quietness and trust is strength”.  I loved the fact that it spoke of strength and salvation and quietness and trust until suddenly this scripture, as phrased by Eugene Petersen took on a new meaning for me.  This morning I read a devotional by Rob Stegmann which spoke of the fact that God was grieved by man’s wickedness  and his heart was filled with pain (Genesis 6:6).  (Rob’s writing can be read here : http://robstegmann.wordpress.com/2013/04/29/broken-heart)

Then I reflected back to Isaiah 30:15 and had to (painfully) acknowledge that my hard fought for independence, the pride I had in having managed my life thus far was actually an idol.  It was a silly effort to save me.  It was something that bought God’s heart pain and my refusal to acknowledge that actually, this was and is something that I am struggling to relinquish and give over to him, deepens that pain.   Especially in a season where I am being asked to rest in God and trust a process – a process that is filled with risk and feels totally out of control.   Despite this being confirmed over and over and over again by different people in different parts of the country, of my world, who have no connection to each other – I kept saying yes, BUT… resting is one thing – but aren’t we called to active rest. Aren’t I supposed to be looking at options, you know actively committing our days to God and pressing into things while we wait for him to open or shut doors?  Things don’t just happen.  God honours our intentions and our actions not sitting around reading all day – and my rent doesn’t get paid by my perception of resting.   Yes, if I look at the motives and my heart intentions, I am challenged.

Actively resting in God means that when I want to say:

“Yes, but practically what does that look like?” the answer is:

  • Whose story is this?  Yours or MINE?
  • Are you on MY team or am I on yours as a resource?
  • You trust me with your soul and its eternal being – and yet you can’t trust me with the here and now detail?

You have forgotten I AM THE PRIZE – your “practical what does that look like” means to remember that you practically see ME.  Not the need, not the unknown. Me.  Your independence separates you from me.  You can’t hear a voice you are not willing to listen to.  Seek me with ALL your heart and then you will find me.   When you come looking for me, and want it more than anything else, I will make sure you won’t be disappointed (Jer 29:13 – The Message).

I have caused God deep pain.  Me.  Alexa.  The woman seeking to take on injustice and find ways of helping people see that they matter.  I have caused God pain.   Yet in the midst of this Isaiah (30:18) states:

“BUT God’s not finished.  He’s waiting around to be gracious to you.  He’s gathering strength to show mercy to you.  God takes the time to do everything right.  Those who wait around for him are the lucky ones”