God asks us to slow down. "Be still, and know that I am God," he says."Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Rest from fear, undeserved guilt, and perfectionism. Rest from shame, blame, and bitterness. Rest.
So, how do I find this rest, you may ask? I have a young family, a busy career, or both. I have lots of Church and volunteer responsibilities and many people who need my help. I am sick, suffering, or heavily burdened. I don't have the time.
We live in a fast-paced, stressful world that may seem comfortless. Media bombards us with messages that we should be smarter, slimmer, younger, better-coifed, better-dressed, sexier, and wittier. Size-two women are shown juggling full-time professional careers, motherhood, and multiple friendships with ease. Muscular, tanned men wearing designer clothes are shown seducing women while they manage businesses, solve crimes, and maintain mansions where their beautiful wives and children live. Air-brushed models appear on magazine covers with captions that make promise we can become a supermodel, lose 10 pounds, and snag the mate of our dreams in a week or two. Women and men are objectified in television and movie shows, print media, Internet sites, and store displays. We may wonder if we will ever meet society's expectations for beauty, popularity, fame, or fortune. We may feel less than whole.
Perhaps we can learn to meditate, even it is only a moment or two in the morning before the children wake up or in the evening after they are in bed. Perhaps we can turn off the sounds that distract us from the Spirit--the television, cell phone, Ipod, or CD player--and just breathe deeply and slowly for a few moments. We can still our thoughts and allow our minds to rest. We can picture a loving Father smiling at us, embracing us, holding us. We can hear him say, "Peace, be still."
I studied the practice of mindfulness and meditation last year before I underwent knee surgery. What was supposed to be a three-day recovery stretched into a three-month recovery. During the months that my knee healed enough so that I could walk again, I practiced mindfulness. I breathed, meditated, and rested my weary mind (and knee). I discovered the sweet music of birds singing, the beauty of cloud formations, and the serenity of solitude. It was not always easy to do, but I learned how to do it. But I don't have three months, you say? Do have three minutes, or even one minute, to quiet your mind? Can you find a moment here and there to still your heart?
I know many feel busy, over-worked, and even under-appreciated, but for those who feel that they cannot do one more thing, the practice of mindfulness is a healing one. As we focus on our breathing when we are stressed, angry, or anxious, we can slowly and consciously breathing in and out until we feel more calm. We can remember that we are not our thoughts but that we are a child of God. We can take a worry-break just as we would take a lunch break. If needed, we can schedule in a few minutes at the end of the day to worry. We can choose to remove negative, self-defeating thoughts from our minds and replace them with healing ones. This may require months--or even years--of practice, but we can begin today.
Sometimes we hang on to our burdens when God waits to carry them for us. Mindfulness allows to give our burdens to God. "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me," Jesus said, "for I am meek and lowly of heart, and you shall find rest unto your souls." Christ promises that He will sustain (feed, hold, carry, comfort, nourish, nurture, assist, befriend, uphold, help, provide for, and defend) us if we cast our burdens (cares, worries, fears, concerns, sorrows, pain, grief, guilt, shame, weariness) on Him, for He has already born them.
We can give our burdens to God, and He will sustain and strengthen us. "Learn of me, and listen to my words; walk in the meekness of my Spirit, and you shall have peace in me," He says. "Be still, and know that I am God. Come to me. Allow Me to comfort you, to make you whole."
© Carol Brown