Read: Matthew 11: 28-30 (Message Version)
Remember: Rebekah Lyons spoke clearly and pointedly when she said, “Most of carry chronic stress for so long we no longer recognize the weight of it. That’s why I call it grace when our bodies rebel… God wants us to reveal our weakness -- to recognize what traumatizes and exhausts us.”
Reflect: I pray you took some time to find our scripture in the Message version today. My pastor has been leading us through these verses all summer in a series called, "Road Trip." It's been enlightening for me, and a different line from the passage each week has provided space for me to do some soul searching.
This week, the line that brought me great peace (and some conviction) is, "keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly." Doesn't it sound beautiful? Who doesn't want to keep company with Jesus and live freely and lightly? I certainly do. But, keeping company with our Savior often leads us out into the murky water of the unknown, or the difficult, or (let's be honest) the dreaded. Sometimes, that particular road trip causes remembering feelings and emotions that we’ve learned to ignore and stresses we’ve worked to cover up. Like Rebekah Lyons explained, we can learn to cope with stress in such a way that we begin to forget it's even there.... until we can't forget any longer.
The problem is that many of us hate to admit when our coping mechanisms have failed, that the stress/pain/anxiety is taking over because it reveals too much. We don't like to feel weak, and we certainly don't want the world to see us struggle. So, we numb the pain in so many different ways. Here's what I've learned this week, though, we can't selectively numb. When we choose to numb pain or stress, we will also numb joy and gladness.
Here's the truth of where I'm at.... Over the past couple of years, I've fallen to old patterns of perfectionism. I've allowed myself to stuff some emotions even in my own home. There were jobs to be done, and I didn't have time to deal with the stress of it all. So, I've covered it up, put some make-up on it, and determined it wouldn't slow us down. And, it is great grace that God has chosen that pattern won't continue. Andrea Breland gave me permission last week to confess that the process of recovering from trauma in my marriage and family is ongoing. Even 7 years out, I am still weak from it all. That simple confession has ushered in a whole new kind of peace, and my days have needed it.
What about you? Is your body rebelling in some way, urging you to get away with your Savior to learn the unforced rhythms of grace? Let's just do it. Remember, we are doing it together. I have as many questions as you do. I really want to have all the answers for you (see, more confession from a recovering perfectionist), but I just don't. I can promise you that I'm committed to the journey, though. And, I'm praying for all of us to relax into the arms of the One who has the strength to work even in our greatest weakness.
Rest: The passage of scripture calls us to rest. But, the text from You are Free suggests we may not even know how. The Message version of Matthew 11 says, “I’ll show you how to take a real rest.” Submission to this concept will likely take more than one morning. But, today, find a moment to step away from the routine to be with Jesus. I don’t want to give any suggestions of what that may look like. I want you to seek the heart of your Father. Ask Him to show you a specific moment today for surrender. Step away from the mundane and allow Jesus to show you real rest.
Gracious and powerful Father.... You amaze me. Your kindness and grace are overwhelming. Like the child that I am, I continue to work myself into situations that simply don't work. When it all crumbles around me, You don't chastise. You never belittle. You gently and lovingly open my eyes to see a better way. This week, You're showing us that the best way for us to live freely (the way You intended) is to keep step with Jesus, to follow Him fully. My prayer is that each and every Soul Sister would commit to doing that. Again, I ask you to show us how. This kind of living goes against our human nature. We want to do, to figure out, and to power through our days with productiveness. Give us the courage to be weak and open our eyes to see the power we receive in that weakness. I am so grateful for this study and for these women I get to study with. With all that I have,God, I'm asking that You'd show up mightily in our personal study time and draw us into a new depth of relationship with You this week. Amen.