Things I Discovered – Lessons that Will Linger!
My three-week Summer Sabbath, which I enjoyed earlier this summer, was initially scheduled to take place last summer in 2021. I postponed it because of a capital campaign our church launched at the time.
A capital campaign demands enormous emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and physical energy. The investment is extensive.
To say that I was looking forward to my Summer Sabbath is an understatement.
Stock Piling and Storing
What I wanted was three weeks of bliss, serenity, and fun! I carefully planned personal time and family time around these desires.
Yet, my Summer Sabbath began with the following events (to name only a few):
- Melissa contracted COVID and battled an invasive infection that lingered for a while.
- We took on a significant stucco repair which led to repainting the exterior of our home.
- We needed to, rather quickly, find a new insurance company that required we replace our water heater.
I could go on. You get the idea. Each of these took place within the first few days of our break.
Therefore, as I entered this break, I carried the worries from these experiences into my vacation.
However, I didn’t discover this until the third or fourth day of our trip. It took some time for these current realities to pop up to the surface of my life. As I sat with these, others began to emerge.
Over a few days, I noticed something:
I tend to internally stockpile within me what is externally happening to or around me!
This Summer Sabbath – and the particularly rough way it began – reawakened me to the reality that what happens to me also happens within me.
Things May Need to Blow Up Before they Blow Out!
As I noted, we had to replace our water heater to be accepted by our new insurance company.
Replacing our water heater meant cleaning our garage to make way for a unit.
The corners of my garage were not cooperating because of the extensive amount of debris – cluttered and collected over time.
To clean the clutter out of the corners, I had to sweep and blow (using an electric yard blower) all the debris up into the air before I could blow it out of the garage!
At that moment, God spoke to me. Not audibly, but clearly! He used this experience to teach me a lesson: the corners of my life need care.
There are areas of my life where the clutter gets stored – stockpiled. Sometimes, those things must be blown up before they can be blown out!
By blowing them up, I mean getting them out in the open – up in the air so they can be seen. Giving them space to be identified, named, and then cleared out!
Past hurts, habits, and hangups I tolerate over time find companions like anger, bitterness, defensiveness, etc. These companions compile during the grind of daily life.
An electric yard blower taught me a powerful lesson during this season!
The lesson is that the corners need to be cleaned and I cannot clean them myself. Over time we accumulate debris in our life. This debris requires space and a source outside of ourselves- the fresh wind of God’s Spirit – to blow up what needs to be blown out.
This Summer Sabbath, and the peculiar and unexpected way it began, reawakened me to the reality that what happens to me in life gets stored and stockpiled within me.
Often this goes unnoticed and is a reality I remain unaware of. Therefore, I also discovered that I was more tired than I thought.
Third, I was more tired than I thought.
Honestly, being more tired than I know is probably always true of me. I often joke that I am overcharged for this world and usually run at a high capacity. This isn’t a proud boast, but it is an unwelcome reality.
Fatigue is THE reality that most impacted my “sabbath.”
I didn’t have the energy I thought I would have to do the deep soul-level work I knew I needed to do!
Most of the time, I just settled into a comfortable chair and rested!
The energy for thought, reflection, prayer, and planning was unavailable.
It turns out this is a good thing. Becoming and remaining aware of my fatigue orients me toward my need to rely on God’s grace and strength.
This reality also reinforces my initial discovery – I need to plan for time away to renew and restore! I am also discovering how to keep renewal through daily or weekly activities restoring my soul.
Daily and/or Weekly Activities that Restore and Renew
- A monthly or quarterly retreat (half-day or more extended) provides the space needed for silence, solitude, reflection, and prayer.
- Daily and weekly rhythms of prayer and Scripture meditation that includes silence and solitude.
- Being active in my body through exercise and fun activities.
- Writing regularly.
- Nurturing relationships with other pastors.
- When the weather affords me the opportunity, I need to be on the beach – swimming in the ocean. Yes, it’s an embodied need. I don’t know why, but I know it’s true. The ocean is magnificent. I feel God’s power and get lost in awe and wonder by floating on the waves, looking up at the sky, or putting on my goggles and exploring the world beneath the surface.
- Incorporating the prayer of examen, fixed-hour prayer practices, and fasting slow me down and help me rediscover the beauty of God.
I suspect daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly rhythms are suitable for all of us.
Have you discovered what yours might be? Are you aware of what you are stockpiling and storing?
Grace and peace!