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Editor's Note: We are a non-religious magazine. However, we acknowledge that spirituality is an important part for some. Our Faith column is a place for anyone to discuss how faith positively affects their mental health and how to improve the conversation around mental health within faith communities.
“I think not taking a Sabbath is a trust issue. We don’t trust God enough to do what’s best for us if we give up our own efforts to achieve that best one day a week, in accordance to His Law and will. But I say this as someone who doesn’t… I mean someone who doesn’t Sabbath, I do trust God.”
Him: “So you don’t actually trust God.” Me: “Yeah…yeah I guess you are right.”
For months, I had been questioning the adequacy of God as I stared at the dead lawn of my existence, wondering why all my work watering and cultivating my faith had not brought me back to life.
But in a class discussion about Sabbath-ing, my wonderfully, albeit brutally, honest professor exposed my spiritual discipline for what it was: watering and cultivating a box garden of religion.
The more I thought about our conversation, the more I realized how little my spirituality impacted my existence. True to my perfectionist nature, I had compartmentalized it into a set of neat obligations to excel at: do devotions, worship, serve, ponder, pray, etc. In doing so, I had created a nice little garden in the corner of my life, and kept the messy, surrendering-to-God and letting go of control business at bay.
But pretty soon, I had found myself “still alive but barely breathing.” (The Script; Barely Breathing)
I was living most of my existence in a lawn full of dead grass and weeds. I stared at my beautiful garden, asking God why my existence was so full of anxiety, emptiness, hopelessness, nihilism, despair, anger and loneliness.
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What I didn’t realize was I had forgotten to look around and realize I couldn’t live in my garden, and I had a limited supply of water. What I didn’t realize was, until I started giving God the gardening tools and letting him water my life with His Truth, I would never live in a “lawn” full of the Fruits of the Spirit, free from the weeds of worldliness.
What I started to learn that day in class is there is nothing more covertly lethal to spirituality than when God’s truth fades into a body of knowledge or a separate sector of our lives.
Cultivating a “spiritual garden” when your lawn is dying is unsustainable. It will inevitably lead to bitterness. And with time, the garden will die as well.
How then, can we begin to let our spirituality truly infiltrate our lives?
There is no easy answer, as easy answers and neat borders are what caused us to lock our religion up in a garden in the first place. But, the core of the answer is found in 2 Corinthians 10:5, “We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
And Philippians 4: 6-7, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
In other words, we must consciously subject every thought to the truth of God.
For me, journaling is the most effective means to do this.
Each day, I try to write down the anxious, bitter, despairing, hopeless, selfish, etc. thoughts that have entered my mind recently in one column, and the truth of God about those thoughts in an adjacent column. Throughout the day, I try to take mental note of these thoughts, saying silent prayers for God to continue to mold my thoughts according to His truth.
Recently, I have also toyed with meditation. I essentially practice the same concept as I do in journaling, but with the intention of beginning my day with direction and ending it with reflection.
For me, meditation is tied with the idea of Sabbath.
I am slowing down and giving back to God the time He has blessed me with. It is taking the time to step back from distracting rat-race of life and re-align my beliefs with my life.
I pray God will begin to move in your heart also, showing you areas where you have fenced God in to a corner of your life and helping you to let him out of the garden and into your lawn.
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