‘What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me- practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.’ Philippians 4:9
‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.’ Revelation 3:20
*Side note – I tried to post this entry a few weeks ago and encountered some difficulties with the technology of this platform. I believe those issues have been remedied. I appreciate any of you who are still interested in these entries, particularly after a few months of silence.*
Recently I’ve been trying to intentionally integrate some healthier habits into my daily life. The biggest of these are routines to begin and end my day, and an aspect of each of these routines is a time of meditation. I have never given meditation much of an effort in the past, mainly due to my hyperactive brain and because I thought it seemed a bit silly.
Now, I am still struggling with it because thoughts are not easy things to ignore, but I have moved away from seeing it as a silly activity. In the world I grew up in, and the life that I live, there are very few instances where I am in perfect silence and inactivity. I spend a majority of my time with other people, and when I am alone I am usually listening to music, watching tv, interacting on social media, reading books, texting or video chatting with friends, etc. The only time I am completely inactive and silent is when I am preparing to go to sleep (and even then I sometimes use an audiobook to lull me to sleep).
We live stimulated lives, and it can be rare and uncomfortable to sit in silence with your breath. As I have been leaning into the practice, I have been confronted with the necessity of it. I like to think of myself as a fairly intellectual person, and as I have been growing in my faith I find myself often in intellectual discourses about God either just with myself in my head or with others. Yet, God has been pushing a message onto my heart : it isn’t enough to just think about God, He wants me to be with Him.
When I shift my perception of God to someone I have a relationship with, then my life of constant stimulation makes me a bad companion. Imagine if your friends were constantly doing something else while they were with you and never fully invested in the time you were spending together. A friend who spent a lot of time trying to figure you out, but never would set time aside to spend with you. Someone who thinks of you often, but never calls and asks what’s up. We crave attention that isn’t divided or compromised by other things, and God does too.
Even in the weeks that I have been working through this particular post, I have continued this struggle to lean into the actual experiences I am having and not just think about them. I have difficulty turning off the background noise and sitting in the silence partly because I think I am afraid of the things that God will force me to confront when I do. Maybe I would rather spend my time in my head because then I have control of the conversation.
I have been spending a lot of my time lately thinking. I am at the stage of my life where a lot of connections are starting to be made about who I am and what things have influenced my process of becoming. From talking with older people, I’ve been told this is a normal part of being in your early twenties and experiencing the world and independence for the first time. However, I am almost feeling a level of self-discovery burnout with how much time I spend thinking about things and trying to decode myself and the life I have lived so far and what hopes I have for the life I have yet to live. My good friend, who has become an older sister type for me, advised me to try and focus more on being present in my body as a way to get out of my head. That I should let my learning come from my moment to moment experiences in my body, and not just the overanalyzed, hyper-processed reality I’ve crafted in my mind.
This is the conversation that brought me back to this half-abandoned post. It reminded me that I treat my relationship with myself similar to my relationship with God. The more I engage with my understanding of Him, the more I feel like knowing myself is an intimate factor of knowing Him. Studying the art to understand the artist, in a way. However, I take for granted that I will always have myself and Him, so I don’t reserve intentional time for either of us in my life.
There is a time to think and be theoretical and analytical, but it must be balanced with the time for simply being and experiencing. The Word tells us to think and learn, but not just for the sake of thinking, but as a way to be with God and to really experience Him.
When you go to an art museum you typically don’t spend the entire time just thinking about the process of creation, the motivation and intention behind the work, or the intellectual interpretations of it. All that may happen, but it is paired with the physical experience of just observing, enjoying, and appreciating.
When I treat my relationships with myself and with God as purely intellectual things, I feel like that implies that there is a point where I will be able to have thought through everything. That one day I will be done thinking and will have reached a complete understanding of myself and my Creator. However, thinking about a relationship isn’t the same as being in one. When I choose to treat these relationships as ongoing experiences, I remind myself that my personal and spiritual journey has no end. There isn’t a finish line that I can somehow think myself to faster. Life truly is the embodiment of that incredibly cliche phrase: ‘it isn’t about the destination, it is about the journey.’
When I am in my head, I’m focused on a destination, but when I am present in my body and in the moment, then I am involved in the journey. The journey can be uncomfortable and scary sometimes, but that is what is going to grow my trust and understanding of myself and the God who created me. I can hear God knocking on the door and I have to choose to open the door and embrace all that that action will bring.