I know I promised I'd report after Easter so I'm carving out time to share a brief update about my first quarter spiritual sabbatical, including 40-plus days off social media, stretching into a longer spell...cuz God said so. It's been a moving time of rest, revelation, restoration, revival and preparation--punctuated by pain, wonder, and joy--even while it's also been a very busy time of spiritually intense client writing and personal study. As with everything I write, I hope sharing my experience will encourage you.
Those of you who have been following me for a while, know that God has been dealing with me about slowing down, stillness, listening, resting, and receiving. A few factors led me to finally bottom out--albeit gently--and to be more willing to comply with God's loving suggestion.
As I've said in the past, I find a restful posture isn't necessarily (or even usually) about lying around eating bon-bons or napping, though by all means, do some of that. I'm just not wired that way, like being productive, and I enjoy living life to the fullest. It's more a heart posture of Let go and Let God, going with the flow, attuned to the Spirit. It doesn't come naturally for some of us (God, help me), also partly conditioned by both the voluntary and involuntary busyness and noisiness that silences the gentle inner voice.
This first quarter, launched by a 21-day church-wide fast that introduced the rest theme more forcefully, has really helped me embrace this new paradigm.
During Lent, among other things described below, I fasted some more (not holy, just desperate) and also attended two prayer and meditation retreats focused on silent listening.
One of the gifts of these precious Lenten interludesis this song Slow Down by Chuck Girard (courtesy of https://sistercathycahill.com) a sweet throwback melody with beautiful lyrics that brings me to tears over and over. I knew my Father was speaking to me personally. I've actually incorporated this into my devotional time and any time I'm rushing along, Isabella style.
Those who value or long for a pause practice might also enjoy How to Listen to God a wonderful and enlightening meditative practice even the most resistant novice can employ and enjoy.
I believe revelation is a deeply personal thing, the result of hanging out with God and seeking Him earnestly, born of love, desperation, hope, wisdom, obedience, or otherwise. I have been highly motivated this quarter and it's been fruitful.
If you're wanting or needing revelation, talk to God about what that looks like for you. I find fasting and time set aside in the wee hours is most helpful. Paradoxically, listening in stillness amplifies God's voice--just like He says.
Some of what He reveals is for your eyes only. Some is meant to be shared, ergo this blog.
Part of the revelation I received during this time of reflection concerned some sin (defects, character defenses, flaws, issues, failings--pick one) I needed to see and to confess. I spent some time praying and meditating on Psalm 51 and felt tremendous healing. I am doing some Twelve Step work around a couple of issues that may require further action, but for the moment, the recognition and repentance has been liberating, which is God's intention: That we be free.
This is an ongoing practice, folks. Most of us, 24/7.
Restoration & Revival
I've needed some repair and restoration in the wake of a few challenging experiences these last three years (a significant number) that highlighted some patterns with which I needed to deal and heal. Here are some resources that have enlightened and nourished me:
I did a book study with a counselor friend on this helpful resource for people like me. While I don't identify 100% with the empath moniker, I share enough of the traits to benefit from this practical and insightful volume. Some Christians may be challenged by some of the content, but I invite you to "take what you like and discard the rest."
Recovering Identity after a Narcissistic Injury - Shaneen Megji. I'm enrolled in this 12-week small group course that has already been profoundly enlightening and healing.
Shaneen also has a website and YouTube channel with a wide assortment of insightful and practical videos. If you've been injured by a narcissist parent, partner, friend, or boss--and more often, all of the above--and the typically highly dysfunctional complicit systems in which they operate, I urge you to:
Forgive them completely. It may be necessary to go no contact in order to achieve this.
Pray for the perpetrators' healing and redemption, with or likely without reconciliation.
Take special care of yourself and surround yourself with loving, supportive people who cherish you.
Other excellent resources for narcissistic abuse or toxic relationship recovery include:
And take heart. If you've been in a narcissist's crosshairs, among other things, it often means you are a remarkable person with outstanding qualities the narc covets and wants to siphon. Sit with that reality while God nurses your wounds.
If you're the perp, take action or take cover. God is ready to forgive you if you humble yourself, which is no doubt a challenge as you may be constitutionally incapable of being honest with yourself. No matter what you've done and to whom, repent and be healed...or face God's wrath. Seriously.
On a very related note, those who identify as empaths may also benefit greatly from reading, "Common Characteristics of Prophets." The word "prophet" freaked me out, too, but St. Paul said it's the most desirable of spiritual gifts (see 1 Corinthians 14:1, 14:5) There are definitely some strong parallels between prophets and empaths. During these challenging global times, knowing and wisely using and guarding your gifting is critical, whatever it is, will be critical.
I also got some healing prayer from Ellel Ministries and Clearwater Healing House. I urge you to suspend skepticism and give it a try if you're wrestling with stuff. I'm sure there's someplace near you.
Lots of folks sense a shift in the atmosphere, that God is doing something new, and preparing us for...something big. I do have a sense of imminence but 1) God likes to work in secret and thus I am realizing I must honor what He is doing in the secret place, holding it sacred and 2) I don't have the foggiest notion what He's doing. I mean, I suspect a few things, but I'm not sure and must circle back to #1. Having said that much, if you sense God is up to something in and through you, I can make the following suggestions I've learned mostly the hard way (in whatever order God dictates to you personally):
Surrender. Resistance is futile and will cause unnecessary pain. (Please take my word for it!) Stand open handed to surrender what He's asking you to let go and to receive what He is giving you, knowing He is madly in love with us and wants our highest good. It is very likely He is asking you to let go of some people, places, and things--(whether toxic obstacles or benign distraction), maybe some that seem valuable. Just do it. Whatever the reason, those people, places, and things are not for this season. Here's a great little article on the subject.
Repent and confess. If you're out of alignment with God's will and ways, stop it and fess up. God suggests this be done sooner rather than later and on and ongoing basis.
Keep an open mind. He is leading people into unfamiliar territory. Just go.
Let peace guide you.If you don't have peace about something, wait for it.
Relax and take it easy. His way is light, restful, easy.
Stay in the moment. I have a really hard time with this, but I find staying very conscious helps.
Trust Him completely no matter what your feeble little human brain thinks. He knows we doubt. It's OK. Just assert your trust. "I trust you, God." and "Thy will not mine be done." He says childlike trust.
Stick close. Stick really, really, really close to HIM. Pray without ceasing...or as often as you remember ;-).
Accept the pain that is the touchstone of all spiritual growth. You wanna grow? It's gonna hurt.
Be quiet and listen. This is totally not my way, but it's imperative. I've been just sitting and waiting for the Holy Spirit to show up (see Slow Down song above.)
Pay close attention. Expect to see guidance and miracles.
Marvel at and be grateful for what He's doing. I am in tears a lot these days.
That turned out to be a rather long list and I could go on. As an alternative, just keep your eyes in Jesus and...
Hang onto your hats, people!
That's all for now. I will return if and when God says. In the meantime, know that I’m thinking of you and loving you from afar.
Grace, peace, joy & love,