Driving home on the freeway the other night something occurred to me, in one of those deeper level understanding moments of a pretty simple concept: if all you do is take away, soon enough you'll have nothing left.
The context of this thought was what made it so startling. I was thinking about how this year I've struggled with my body. Like hard struggled. I've had to adapt what I eat because of how my body started to respond to certain foods. And as I took away these "bad" foods (and it felt like so many) I started on a vicious cycle of rebellion and shame eating. Ugh. Confession is hard.
I would eat "good food" and look shamingly on all the glutenous and soy laden foods I couldn't have anymore and feel good about how well I was choosing to avoid them. And for a while I had a lot of success. My body started working right again and I felt great ... until life got hard and complicated. You know, the stuff: student loans, broken cars, changing jobs. The stability I relied on to continue choosing to only eat "good food" eroded and I found myself "cheating" with a bagel or tortilla chips (the rebellion part of my cycle).
So I'd fall off the bandwagon, feel guilty, try to start again and inevitably fail again because my external stability hadn't returned. I was expecting different results without changing the system that got me there.
And so in this drive I realized when my body broke and I needed a change I started hacking and slashing trying to get the "bad foods" out -- but I never added back in good foods that I enjoyed let alone starting slowly and incrementally. I took a jump in the deep end then learn to swim approach and it nearly drowned me.
So I wondered: What if I pulled back a little, built in some grace (and a bagel here and there), added some delicious new options (like quinoa Greek salad), and structured some stability in places I could control (like my time) so that I was both giving and taking. Balance. Sustainability.
As I began writing this blog this morning it made me wonder how the same principle applies in my relationship with Jesus. If I only focus on what's broken I won't have the foresight to add in or embrace healing and restoration. And in my experience I find Jesus more often in the in between rather than in my hack and slash, dive in before I know how to swim efforts. I think this is called growing in wisdom; learning my capacities and limits. I'm so grateful Jesus isn't calling me to the same harshness I saddle myself with.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:28-30 MSG)
Lindsay was in her element Wednesday night as she prepared for her guests at her September kitchen gathering. No onion chopping or garlic smashing is involved ... for the guests. They are invited into a beautiful atmosphere and invited to "taste and see." Lindsay prepare a full three course meal for them. And while many of the elements are prepared ahead of time, she demonstrates table side the preparation of some of her favorite menu pieces -- like her Caesar dressing and roasted bell peppers.
It was a feast for the eyes, taste buds, and ears listening to Lindsays beautiful instruction and contagious laughter.
Lindsay is a Culinary Consultant at Gathered Together.
Waterfalls, mood lighting, beautiful bamboo flooring - my yoga studio is a place of intentional tranquility. And it's felt that way to me when I go - until last week.
Everything was going normally. Yoga clothes - check. Yoga mat - check. Found a space on the floor and got settled in.
Maybe 20-minutes into the 90-minute class of "table top," "downward dog," and "inverted triangle" I felt this intense anger, furiou-ness, coming up. In the words of a former professor I was "leaking." Emotions I wasn't desiring to experience we're finding their way to the surface. The poses were difficult, and my internal response was nearly rage. I've been in a number of yoga classes before and this was the first time I experienced these feelings in that context.
I couldn't pin what I was angry about. The teacher was fine, the other students were fine. It was hot, but that's not new either. As I reflected after class I realized when the context doesn't fit the feeling something deeper is going on.
Even though my anger wasn't connected to a specific memory or event that I could recall it still needed to surface. And in this case I let it. I let myself feel angry in the moment rather than trying to ignore it because it didn't make sense.
By the end of class while in the final relaxing pose I felt as though my anger was done. I didn't need it anymore. Then in my mind I saw Jesus near me and caring for me. Afterwords I was keenly aware that allowing myself to feel these feelings (rather than being only aware of them) had broken down my internal barriers and allowed me to meet Jesus in my brokenness. Had I tried to "keep it together" I don't think my heart would have recognized his nearness to me.
An Invitation: Talk with me...