(This post was originally published on the Baptist Convention of New England’s blog on January 15, 2020. You can find it here.)
“Who do we become when we stop allowing all the voices in our head to crowd out the one voice we must hear to come to life?”
I find deep beauty in the hush that falls over my heart and home after the holiday chaos has ebbed. Décor is stowed until next year, surfaces are reordered, and a gentle blanket of silence fills the previously riotous internal and external spaces of life.
Self-care has been weighing on my mind like a quick-ripening fruit recently. John Ortberg’s Soul Keeping and The Fringe Hours by Jessica Turner sit dog-eared nearby. Small pockets of peace wait around my home—a facial mask, some doodling pens, the Bible study I’m loving entirely too much to not be considered a nerd. Bits of beauty scattered throughout my space and schedule. I used to think the whole “me time” thing was for weenies with lame theology and weak wills. (Grace abounds, friends, even for this brand of self-righteousness.) The longer I’m in ministry, though, the more crucial tending my own heart feels to me.
“When you work, Jesus rests. When you rest, Jesus works.”
A clean house. Zero responsibilities. No drama. Remember the part in How the Grinch Stole Christmas where his “small heart grew three sizes that day?” That’s how I felt during my first ever personal retreat earlier this week. I’ll give you a rundown so that you can plan out your own staycation. (If you can’t do it in the next month, maybe soon after the chaos of the holidays has ebbed?) When we begin to see time for personal care as an investment rather than a waste, sabbath can move back into our schedules—and with it, the renewed energy, joy, and peace that result from doing life God’s way.
Liar, liar, pants on fire! (Some random line about a telephone wire…)
Kids chant about obvious falsehood, tiny truth radars built into their DNA. They can often spot a lack of genuine character a mile away. Sadly, though, we grow out of our ability to quickly spot lies around us, and nowhere is the resulting damage more significant than in our souls. There is a liar out to get us, prowling around seeking whom he may devour. Inattentive hearts are easy prey for him.
See: Soft floral linens being lifted and spread over a comfortable mattress in the corner; whitewashed wooden planks underfoot; the dying evening light filtered through palm trees and wavy-glass windowpanes; a bouquet of greenery spilling over onto the counter; flickering shadows cast by a cheerful fire; candles and lanterns strategically placed throughout the loft; books stacked next to a plush sofa; an easel with paints and canvas standing ready next to the window
The worst words to my 7-year-old ears: “It’s naptime!” Oh, how I would cringe and move dejectedly to the absurd halting of my fun. My little brother and I would put away our toys or books or costumes and climb up into the arms of oblivion. Dumb bed. When I grow up, I’m never going to take naps!
How the times have changed. Even as soon as high school, I was eager for an extra rest in the afternoon. I’m sorry I was so mean to you, sweet naptime. Can we be friends?
I set out to title this post “Cultivating a Quiet Heart,” but the picture I found was too perfect to not use. The power, the emotion, the effect: all work together to portray exactly what it looks like to settle yourself down into an attitude of calm when everything inside screams for action, for noise, for running wild with itself in forgetfulness.
But let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.