Quieting My Soul

I ran into a friend at a coffee shop this week.  I hadn't seen him in a while because he has spent the past 6 months supporting his wife who is bedridden with back pain.  At the same time, his dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

I felt like saying, "This is too much!"

I feel like saying that a lot these days.  Not just in light of my health crisis, but because friends all around me are suffering.Friends with returned cancer.Friends with failing marriages.

A friend who is a victim of domestic abuse.I think I can handle all of that, on some level.  I can pray for them.  Love on them.  Support them.  I can do that.

But there's this new thing I'm noticing that's a bit harder for me to process.  Some of my friends are dealing with HARD at the same time as experiencing JOY.  And I feel the need for space to breathe and process that.

One of my closest friends is marrying off two of her children and burying her father-in-law.... all this summer.One friend finally got a dream job.  But it comes with a steep learning curve.  And she has small kids.  The dream job is causing new stress.  But it's also an answer to prayer.  We celebrate it.  And then we wonder, how is it all going to work?

That friend from the coffee shop?  He's got a sick wife, a sick dad and at the same time, he's packing up his oldest son to head to a really great college this fall.  An amazing opportunity that is pure joy and excitement.  How do you find time to grieve and celebrate in the same season?

This juxtaposition of suffering and joy is too much for me.  God, are you serious?

Do I cry with my friends?  Do I celebrate with them?  Do we put one out of mind while we focus on the other?I think we do all of the above.  But for me, that's more than I can handle.  I'm too weak.  Too limited.  It's coming at me too fast.I read a book once entitled, "When You Feel Too Much."  What a great title!  Yes, sometimes, I feel too much.  But I'd rather feel, and be overwhelmed, than be numb and watch my friends process their lives from a distance.So, I go to the fountain to be refreshed.  Like Psalm 131:2 says,

I have calmed and quieted my soul,like a weaned child with its mother;like a weaned child is my soul within me.

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The only way for me to do that is to spend time with Jesus.  Read his love letter to me.  Cling to him like a toddler clinging to his father's legs.  That is where I find peace and strength.  I "check in" with Jesus like my kids used to "check in" with me at a park... they would swing by to hug me, reassured that I was still there and still protecting them, before running off to tackle their world again.

Eugene Peterson in his book, The Jesus Way, wrote,

“We stop, whether by choice or through circumstance, so that we can be alert and attentive and receptive to what God is doing in and for us, in and for others, on the way. We wait for our souls to catch up with our bodies.”

I love that phrase, "We wait for our souls to catch up with our bodies."  Isn't that a picture.  We do that, don't we?  We run through life, and suffering friends pass by in our peripheral view.  We hear their pain and feel something but we can't stop long enough to process that.  We need space. We need to stop because our souls don't run at the same speed as our bodies.

I've being listening to a new podcast called, The Next Right Thing by Emily P. Freeman.  It's all about finding space.    A few weeks ago, she was talking about Finding Space and quoted a teacher who told her to stop in her Hurry.  Slow down and, "learn what it looks like to love and be loved by God... for the next 10 minutes."

I can do 10 minutes.  I think you can too.  Sometimes, the question isn't, "Do I need space?"   The question is, "How do I find space?"  Well, can you find 10 minutes?  Maybe it's in the car on the way to pick up kids.  You don't have to turn on the radio.  You could use that time to find 10 minutes of space.  To stop and let your soul catch up with your body.

I have a friend, Debbie, who would find space by going into her bedroom closet and shutting the door.  It usually took her kids about 10 minutes to find her.  That's all she needed.It's all any of us needs.  10 minutes, to quiet our sounds.  To learn what it looks like to be loved by God... and how to love others in their struggle.10 minutes.