I just absolutely love Sunday afternoons. I didn’t used to–not before we discovered a cadence to the space that takes shape after church and lunch, right in the midst of quiet times and naps. The house gets still, and I feel little guilt about taking time to rest. That’s what this time of the week is for…to pause, absorb, process, draw inward, be.
I used to be a doer. All of the time.
This didn’t change much about the trajectory of my days, save the fact that there was always something in front of me as tangible evidence that I could produce. I had something to show for my time. I could keep up quite beautifully in a world of movers and shakers. I thought this was progress. And I thought my work determined my worth.
There has been a shift in me in this regard, and it’s taken it’s time to evolve. In part, becoming a parent has caused me to discover value in intangible progress: dirty dishes in the sink and toys everywhere, but kiddos whose hearts are forming daily and babies who are growing physically and spiritually at the same time. Sharing life with little ones kind of forces you into letting go of all of your to-dos on a regular basis. In a good way.
More than raising a family, though, the agent that’s caused the most change in me is the Holy Spirit–the presence of Christ in my life and the ability to ask for wisdom and discernment about all things, so long as I’m willing to invite the idea of a higher power and a mighty God into my life. If you’re reading from a different faith perspective, I hope I don’t lose you here, but that you’re open to me sharing my heart just as I would welcome dialogue about what’s going on in yours.
It’s taken a long time for me to realize that I’m not nearly as effective at anything as I am when I am inviting the Holy Spirit into my days. When I’m diligent about this, my production looks far less like checked off lists and far more like a willingness to bend to whims and changes, and an acknowledgment that my life is not my own, but borrowed time.
When I operate with the understanding that I have a responsibility to steward my time and thoughts and intentions well, not only do I feel the difference in my heart, but I see the fruit of this choice in my life. My relationships flow more naturally and carefully. My children snuggle closer and draw nearer in the soft spaces of the day that didn’t used to exist. When I sit down to write, or I head to the kitchen to make dinner…when I drive Henry to school or I talk with Jason about the meatier things going on in our lives and the world, I just have more peace. And I feel like God is willing to use me differently than when I’m overly concerned with the physical output of my day.
Enter Allume, and the ways that four days in South Carolina realigned my priorities and emphasized the work that God has been doing in my heart as of late. I love when this happens–it’s just so beautiful how things work together!
“If you want to change the world, you have to change your world first.” Remember this thought from last week’s conference? I shared a bit about this on Monday. While there’s so much more than a few blog posts worth of information and inspiration to unfold, it’s all coming in bits and pieces that I hope will trickle into my words here for some time to come.
Where do I begin to change my own world, so that I can change the world? For me, that place is in my commitment to intentional times of quiet, prayer and rest, which is why Sunday afternoons are a significant and worthy part of my life these days. Everything within me is richer when I rest, listen and pray.
For me, the listening part is the hardest, and also the most fruitful.
I started to draft a book proposal before heading to Allume. This was my first go, and a very challenging but rewarding process. I hadn’t planned to take this step even a few months ago, but sometimes things come at us and surprise us in a really beautiful way. In my case, a book proposal was the sweet and soul-refining exercise I needed to head into the conference with completely open hands and a wildly open mind. I didn’t know what God was doing in any part of the process.
Every time I sat down to the keys, I prayed first, but I spent more time just being quiet. And the more I did it–the more I surrendered my own thoughts and wants for the space to listen for God’s, my heart was refined. I stayed up, energized, so many nights in a row, not knowing where the road was taking me, but enthralled with the possibility of finding out.
Overlapping this time, I felt prompted to reach out and ask for prayer and support of a dear community of women around me, and goodness, did they show up! Day after day and prayer after prayer, these beautiful souls covered me and engaged with me, trusting that God could do something good…and he did.
He did. And he is, and I know he’ll continue to, so long as I keep giving my time and words and heart over to be refined and shaped. Under my own power, what I can produce in this lifetime pales greatly to what God can do when I invite him to show up. I am amazed at this process.
To be honest, I’ve been a little gun-shy about sharing it all here. Not because it doesn’t excite me, but because I know that talking about God and the Holy Spirit and both moving in my life and heart might seem a bit too etherial. This is true, in part because I can’t do any of it justice with my own thoughts or words.
What I can say is this: my Sunday afternoons and places of rest produce far more good and fruit in my life than any of my own human striving ever could. And whatever God has for my life and for me to do in this world matters way more to me than risking it all by not sharing it, by not prioritizing it, by not making it obvious to my kiddos or the people around me out of fear.
If I want to change the world, I have to change my world first.
So what matters to me? What do I spend my time on? My money on? My thoughts on? What fruit exists in my friendships, my home, my family, my daily life out in the world? Am I thinking in earthly terms, caring so much about the physical things that I forget to give time to what actually matters most?
I’m asking myself all of these questions and taking time for introspection because it matters. Because I really do want to change the world. Because I really do believe that God has something mighty to do, and that he is inviting me to share in a little part of it.
What more could I want or ask for in this life?
I want more of God, and I’m not afraid to say it. I want more of honoring him and pleasing him and serving him, and it starts with Sunday afternoons. I pray that they bleed into the fabric of my whole week…into the very marrow of my being. I pray that the more I’m able to change my own world, the more the world around me will change for good. And I pray that however God wants to use me, I’ll be open to it and hear it clearly.
He makes beautiful things out of the dust. He makes beautiful things out of us. What might he want to make out of me, or you, that could be far more beautiful that we would otherwise dare to imagine without him?!
love from this quiet space on a sunday afternoon,