Unforced Rhythms of Grace

“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

Unforced rhythms of grace.

Thomas Merton wrote, “You find peace not by rearranging the circumstances of your life, but by realizing who you are at the deepest level.”

What are the circumstances of your life? Do they seem to have a rhythm, or do you feel that chaos follows you around like an all consuming hail storm? Hail storms have always fascinated me. They seem to race in unexpected with a pelting that can damage and astonish. How does something this big fall from the sky without notice or warning? I know a meteorologist could answer that question, but for most of us it comes unexpected.

I desperately want to rearrange my circumstances. In some cases, it seems unethical and wrong not to break free, change, confront, move on, or fix. This has to be healed, God. We can’t live like this.

Or, can we?

We come into this world suffering and gasping for breath–fighting to live. We connect to our family to survive, the very source of our joy and sustenance and at the same time the source of great pain and sorrow. Yes–families are broken.

All families.

I’m drawn to the verse I shared at the beginning of this post for several reasons. I heard it on my audible book on the way to Nelson, Virginia. In the context of my life and the message of the chapter, an old verse brought new meaning to me. I love this verse. We even organized a retreat in my younger years around this verse for women to experience rest. After years of raising babies, toddlers, and managing a full time job, this verse has a new meaning. Who doesn’t want rest?

But, for now, in this moment, I need reassurance. Can I just say that a woman seeking reassurance looks like weeping, begging, angry outbursts, stuffing feelings, and in some rare moments questioning your sanity. I have friends who are okay with talking about this stuff. I love them so much. We can’t walk around in this state and survive, but we have to talk about it and get it out.

I sometimes will pull in my driveway and just sit in the car. Deep breath, look around at the trees, and listen to the birds or night sounds. A pause before I go from work to home. The other day I found myself praying aloud to God in honesty and openness. The latest circumstance was just too much, and I’m asking God how much more do you think we can stand before we crash and burn? Before the hail storm totally wipes us out?

Your word says:

“I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

It feels heavy, God.

It feels ill-fitting.

Last night I noticed an old post on my blog had been read by some viewers. It caught my attention because it had been viewed on Valentine’s Day over 200 times.  I clicked on the title. It’s interesting to read posts from years ago and reflect. The post was about finding your way back to God and His love. At the end of the post was the Matthew verse. I smiled. I know God. I see you talking to me through unforced rhythms of grace, and in the midst of the circumstances.

For so long I’ve been a fixer. I’m a number 2 on the enneagram–The Helper.

I love the enneagram because they share the healthy side of your number and the dark side of your number–or should I say, “opportunity for growth” side of your number.

I know I’m more than a number on an inventory, but this work and reading has helped me gather my thoughts and understanding myself and others at a deeper level. I can’t change my circumstances right now, but I do know God is whispering to come away and rest. Let Him teach me how to live freely and lightly. I just don’t know how to do this in my current state of circumstances.

My book closed with a poem from Mary Oliver called, “The Journey”. I close out this post of searching and seeking with words from a writer who knows nothing of me and my life, but the human connection sends a message that we dream, think, and live in the sameness of our circumstances. I want to hear the “new voice” of God’s love in me in this season. I want to trust this voice, and realize that the only life I can save is mine with the knowledge and truth of my eternal hope–the very One who gave me life.

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice—
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do—
determined to save
the only life you could save.




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