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Bonnie Gray Christian Blog and Commentary

Bonnie Gray

The Faith Barista

"Comes a time, on the journey, you wonder how you will survive, There comes a time, when you're thirsty and so alone... There is a pool in the desert, where water flows from fountains unseen, Saving water, healing water flowing over me."  The Choir, Flowing Over Me

You don't have to die, in order to feel like you're not really living.

You can even be loved by the man of your dreams whose arms as husband gently encircle your waist every night in bed -- you can love the world's most beautiful two boys, the ones you'll always remember resting warm and soft in the cradle of your neck as newborns -- and yet feel something missing inside.

It's hard to talk to other people about what you find difficult to face yourself.

They might think you're being ungrateful.

They might think you're not counting your blessings.

They might think your faith is broken.

But, it's not that way at all.

There is something deeper going on inside.

The Place Inside

I know what this is like. To make it on my own.

To be okay.

It's a numbness.  In places no one can see.

It's me from my childhood. Still alone.  Holding everything together.

It doesn't show up at work, when I used to stand up making presentations in conference rooms.

It doesn't show up when I'm hanging out with my friends, or even at church, where all is as it should be.

And if you saw me at the grocery store, or driving my kids to soccer, running errands, you would think all is fine.

This place inside me where I pull myself together is where I go whenever I'm feeling down, confused or stressed.

In the privacy of my soul -- where my memories lay -- lies the wounded me.

Greater Faith

You know, the month of November is the time of the year when we talk about being thankful.

But for someone like me, who is going through the journey of healing -- having to remember all the people, places and stories that have wounded me -- what I'm thankful for may not be what everyone else has on their list.

Before my journey through debilitating anxiety, I was able to ignore the undercurrent feeling of shame I've hidden growing up in a dysfunctional home. I wanted to be strong and courageous -- by being competent.

I didn't understand God could make me strong and courageous -- by being broken.

I was still young in my journey of faith.

It wasn't time for me back then, as a little girl, to understand it takes greater faith to be broken than being competent.

Even Though

It's what Jesus chose in the Garden of Gethsamane, the night everyone was remembering Passover and giving thanks for God's protection from passing death. It was the night Jesus chose not to pass death. It was the night Jesus felt like dying --

even though He had just celebrated the Passover meal with His closest friends,

even though Jesus had given thanks, for the bread,

and even though Jesus had given thanks, for the cup.

Jesus confided --

"My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.  
Stay here... With me. I'm very sad.  It feel as if I'm dying..."
Matthew 26:37-38 (NIV, CEB)

 Jesus didn't want pain, but He wanted us more.

So, Jesus chose to be broken.

This Thanksgiving, my heart is opening up.

My soul is awakening with each painful memory coming alive.

I'm stepping out -- even in my numbness -- to give thanks. Not because I'm strong. Not because everything is picture perfect.

I have something this year I've never had before.

I have a heart that is becoming real.

My Real Thanksgiving List

This year, I'm opening my heart to My Real Thanksgiving List.

I'm thankful --

I can be in need, so I can go on a new journey to find comfort.

I can feel sadness, so I don't have to live separated from my heart.  I can cry and feel afraid because it means I'm real.

I don't have to want suffering, but I can choose to embrace it.   Because God doesn't see it as shameful.  He is going to stay with me.  As long as it takes.

I can fall apart.  Because Jesus is holding me tenderly and His tears are dropping onto the hands that have gone limp from praying too long and too hard in silence.

I'm thankful I can hear Him whispering --

I haven't forgotten you.  

I'm not going to leave you.

over and again, even as I choke out in sobs to Him in return, "I don't want this.  I don't want this."

I'm thankful I can finally stop to look at my wounds and investigate how they got there.

I'm learning to say no in ways I've never dared -- to say yes to me and yes to God.

I'm thankful I can smell the rain and remember the dreams I've given up -- so I can ask God if I can taste them again.

I can ask God, "Is it too late?" and still doubt, because God is faithful even when I'm not.

I'm thankful for beautiful things I'm finding among the devastation of letting go.

I'm thankful I can be broken and real.  Because Jesus still chooses me. 

Something Beautiful

I am finding new friends who understand that both sadness and joy can co-exist.  Who aren't trying to fix me.

Friends who trust that love is greater than any resolution.

Friends who understand the journey of faith takes us off script.

Who share their own stories of struggle and dreams.

Who can touch the deep places.

Friends who remember the earth was once formless.

Empty.  

Yet, God was still moving in it, making something new and deep.

Something beautiful and real.

It was so real, that when God looked at what He was holding -- after placing His lips and breathing into the dirt -- He saw something come alive.

Something He never, ever made before.

It's what God sees looking into your heart and mine today.

He is making something beautiful out of you.

Remember

As we walk into the heart of the Thanksgiving season, and all those picture perfect images and stories start flashing onto our screens, remember The Real Thanksgiving List taking shape in God's heart -- inside of yours.

This list is coming alive in the real stories He's walking out with you in the current chapters you are living.  Today.

We can be thankful.

Jesus is going to keep loving us -- the same way He calls the stars out on the darkest nights every day.

He whispers your name.  

And mine.

Tenderly.

"He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. 
He counts the number of the stars;
He gives names to all of them.
"
~ Psalm  147:3-5

~~~~~

What is God whispering on your heart today?

What is on your Real Thanksgiving List this year?

Pull up a chair.  Express the journey inside you with us here. It matters.  Share a comment below.

By Bonnie Gray, the Faith Barista, serving up shots of faith in the daily grind. Bonnie is the soulful author of Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul To Rest, which has garnered starred review praise from Publisher’s Weekly. Bonnie writes for DaySpring (in)courage and her work has been spotlighted by Christianity Today, Relevant, Catalyst Leadership and she's been named in the Top 6 notable new religion authors. After graduating from UCLA, Bonnie served as a missionary, ministry entrepreneur, and Silicon Valley high-tech professional. She lives in Northern California with her husband, Eric, and their two sons.

findingspiritualwhitespace_book For inspiration to create space in your life to breathe, order a copy of Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul To Rest, which has garnered starred review praise from Publisher’s Weekly.  This memoir-driven guidebook for rest is for anyone longing for nurture their heart and draw closer to God. Learn how a life-long dream unexpectedly launched Bonnie into painful childhood memoires to discover a better story of rest. Visit TheBonnieGray.com to learn more. 

"Whitespace is soul grace. Bonnie Gray ushers weary women into the real possibility." - Ann Voskamp, NY Times bestsellng author of One Thousand Gifts

"If you want to hear Jesus speak more tenderly to your soul than ever befrore, this is the book for you." - Lysa TerKeurst, NY Times bestselling author of Unglued

"We live in a culture that brags and boasts about being busy. Into that reality steps Bonnie with a new idea.
Whitespace is an important concept and Bonnie has captured it perfectly. 
-Jon Acuff,NY  Times bestselling author of Start!

*Don't miss!* If you are new to Faith Barista, I'd like welcome you here. Click here to subscribe by email -(free) and get each post in this series served up hot and fresh directly in your mailbox

Photo credit: Flickr

"Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it everyday." ~ Henri Nouwen {a quiet find in the fog one morning}

Eric and I were driving to Carmel for a weekend anniversary getaway last month. It was a welcome reprieve after months of releasing my new book, Finding Spiritual Whitespace.  I had journeyed through an unexpected two years of debilitating anxiety from reliving painful memories from childhood trauma, as a result of writing the manuscript. 

But, after surrounding myself with a lot "spiritual whitespace" -- rest and rejuvenation -- to heal and write this book, I found the sudden re-entry into the blogosphere noisy and anxiety generating. I had completed over 40 interviews and articles to get the word out about the book. 

I reached a crossroad that perhaps you may be standing in.

Should I keep pushing myself to produce and perform -- fearful of the consequences if I stopped to slow?

Or should I listen to the quiet Voice of Love -- God's voice -- to feed my soul and cultivate my experience of God in my everyday life rather than what I could produce for Him?

Is there a decision you're facing that makes you fearful of how relevant you would become -- if you put the care of your soul in priority?

For me, the journey to become the beloved is where God is speaking to my heart.

Real Influence

Online life can be enriching and imaginative, connecting us with others with similar challenges and struggles -- when we can be honest about our journey.  

Through blogging, I have found kindred spirits who gave me courage to find my voice through the dark times. But, online life also gets complicated because of social networking and social media.

Social networking. It's a collection of people vying for attention, for their products, platform and messages. Social media. It's the tools used to market and garner influence.

Brand influence is a commodity that is produced by working hard to cultivate an identity and audience.

But you and  I are not products.

Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 7.01.54 PM

Spiritual influence -- the way Jesus cultivated it -- is a quality of the soul that enables us to feel intimacy with God and vulnerability with others.

True influence cannot be measured but experienced in our everyday lives -- by the strangers we meet, our friends, spouses, children, teachers, co-workers, and even our own selves with Jesus -- in the daily grind.

Real influence is a quality of the soul that enables others to feel at home with us  -- more loved, comforted, accepted and known -- because we feel at home with God. As is. 

Those moments are often quiet and small.

Soul Loneliness

At the soul of who God made us -- where Psalmist David calls "the innermost being" -- God first touched dirt and fashioned in us the capacity to create and dream, to need Him and each other. He created a soul in each of us.

The soul does not survive on successes and the soul cannot be fed with productivity or achievement. The soul becomes lonely. 

The Atlantic published a powerful article sharing new research that suggests we have never been lonelier because of social media, even though we are more densely networked than ever. All this loneliness is making us mentally and physically ill.

"...within this world of instant and absolute communication, unbounded by limits of time or space, we suffer from unprecedented alienation. We have never been more detached from one another, or lonelier.

Our omnipresent new technologies... make avoiding the mess of human interaction easy.

Self-presentation... is continuous, intensely mediated.  Curating the exhibition of the self has become a 24/7 occupation.

Sherry Turkle, a professor of computer culture at MIT [talks] about the effects of online society:

'These days, insecure in our relationships and anxious about intimacy, we look to technology for ways to be in relationships and protect ourselves from them at the same time.'

The problem with digital intimacy is that it is ultimately incomplete: 'The ties we form through the Internet are not, in the end, the ties that bind. But they are the ties that preoccupy,' she writes."

In a sea of voices, stories, experiences, do you find yourself preoccupied by what others are doing, saying, writing or producing?

Too much online life drains the life of the soul.

Soul Fed:  Beloved

The soul hungers to be fed --

-- by quiet things.  Like the sound of a walk in the morning, with the wind waving your hair against your eyelashes when you blink.

-- by stillness.  Like standing in your kitchen, to steep a pot of tea, so you can savor a book long enough pour cups to sip until it's empty.

-- by prayer.  Like hearing the sound of your pencil drag across your journal, as you pour out every thought and feeling, confiding as friend to friend with Jesus.

-- by choosing the small.  Like stopping to listen to a friend who is feels troubled or sitting down with your child to read a book for no reason at all.

The soul longs to rest and refresh --

-- by being known.  connected and vulnerable with friends.

-- by being creative.  with a brush, pen, or guitar strings.

-- by resting in solitude. taking care of your body.

The soul of who we are is God's Beloved. Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 7.02.40 PM

Intimacy & Rest

When Jesus finally arrived on earth to share the greatest Message anyone had ever known, Jesus choose to invest and spend His time with just 12 everyday, ordinary people. Jesus didn't spread His message in the synagogues and temples.  

Jesus focused on experiencing life with everyday people who didn't have any access to large venues or power structures. Jesus chose to be present in His everyday life. Jesus was real. 

When Jesus resurrected from the dead, He could have done a gazillion high profile things. Instead, Jesus went to a beach, made a fire and watched fish turn tender and warmed bread on hot stones to love on his weary-worn friends, discouraged with empty nets. 

He loved them by experiencing life with them. "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest." (Mark 6:31) -- while He himself "often withdrew to the lonely places and prayed." (Luke 5:16).

Jesus longs for this intimacy with us.  

What are you letting come between you and experiencing life with God -- and others?

Let God love you. Today.

Make room to be present. As is. Take your rightful place with Him. Invited rather than driven.

In those quiet moments, something real and honest will flow out of you and me, transforming this world into a more beautiful place. Work will no longer be about striving.  Work will be transformed into a soulful expression of who we as people of faith, loved by God. 

We will no longer be lonely people. We will journey together by faith.

You are not a brand. You are Beloved.

"I will heal your wandering. I will love you freely.
You will be like dew to Israel, you will blossom like the lily..." Hosea 14:4  

~~~~~

How is God calling you to be His Beloved?

How is He inviting you experience life with Him -- instead of being driven to accomplish or produce?

Share a comment. This is a quiet space to stop and share the journey. 

~~~~~

By Bonnie Gray, the Faith Barista, serving up shots of faith in the daily grind. Bonnie is the soulful author of Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul To Rest, which has garnered starred review praise from Publisher’s Weekly. Bonnie writes for DaySpring (in)courage and her work has been spotlighted by Christianity Today, Relevant, Catalyst Leadership and she's been named in the Top 6 notable new religion authors. After graduating from UCLA, Bonnie served as a missionary, ministry entrepreneur, and Silicon Valley high-tech professional. She lives in Northern California with her husband, Eric, and their two sons.

findingspiritualwhitespace_book For inspiration to create space in your life to breathe, order a copy of Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul To Rest, which has garnered starred review praise from Publisher’s Weekly.  This memoir-driven guidebook for rest is for anyone longing for nurture their heart and draw closer to God. Learn how a life-long dream unexpectedly launched Bonnie into painful childhood memoires to discover a better story of rest. Visit TheBonnieGray.com to learn more. 

"Whitespace is soul grace. Bonnie Gray ushers weary women into the real possibility." - Ann Voskamp, NY Times bestsellng author of One Thousand Gifts

"If you want to hear Jesus speak more tenderly to your soul than ever befrore, this is the book for you." - Lysa TerKeurst, NY Times bestselling author of Unglued

"We live in a culture that brags and boasts about being busy. Into that reality steps Bonnie with a new idea.
Whitespace is an important concept and Bonnie has captured it perfectly. 
-Jon Acuff,NY  Times bestselling author of Start!

*Don't miss!* If you are new to Faith Barista, I'd like welcome you here. Click here to subscribe by email -(free) and get each post in this series served up hot and fresh directly in your mailbox

It's a new week and maybe you're thinking like me. 

I don't know what to do. There's so many things I want to to do, but which one is the right thing to commit to?

Time is precious and there's hardly not enough of it. So, we often freeze up. We always hear time is money, so we're afraid to spend our time... on ourselves.

Soul care.  Soul care is allowing ourselves to be loved by God.

And one of the hardest things for me is taking the risk to choose -- what's good for my soul.

The nearness of God is my daily good.

So, how can I bring God into my world, to bring Him close to me?

I've found one movement in soul care that has been my daily good:  single-tasking.

Single-tasking is a source of water for my soul, to keep my soul fresh and hydrated.

I've found when I multi-task -- I'm really afraid to choose.

 

Your Soul Quotient

I squander the time that God wanted me to enjoy -- that He gave me as a gift to enjoy -- by splitting my heart and my head in all different directions. And I miss out on touching that spiritual whitespace where my soul can just be replenished and rest.

I read a very convicting article on called How and (Why) to Stop Multi-tasking by Peter Bergman in the Harvard Business Review:

 A study showed that people distracted by incoming email and phone calls saw a 10-point fall in their IQs. What’s the impact of a 10-point drop? The same as losing a night of sleep. More than twice the effect of smoking marijuana.

Doing several things at once is a trick we play on ourselves, thinking we’re getting more done. In reality, our productivity goes down by as much as 40%. We don’t actually multitask. We switch-task, rapidly shifting from one thing to another, interrupting ourselves unproductively, and losing time in the process.

You might think you’re different, that you’ve done it so much you’ve become good at it. Practice makes perfect and all that.

But you’d be wrong. Research shows that heavy multitaskers are less competent at doing several things at once than light multitaskers. In other words, in contrast to almost everything else in your life, the more you multitask, the worse you are at it. Practice, in this case, works against you.

It made me think -- forget about IQ -- what about my SQ -- Soul Quotient?

Our Soul Quotient -- how much we experience the nearness of God -- the presence of God -- is what's at stake when we are afraid to commit our time to what's restful and soul-feeding.

When we single-task, we are choosing to make room to our souls and care for our emotional needs.

Our Soul Quotient allows us to feel, to love, to be present with ourselves, with God -- and with those who need our Soul Quotient the most: our spouses, children, friends and those we want to be fully present and love with kindness, patience, joy and gentleness.

We can't do that if our heart is split up with self-doubt and soul-neglect trying to be somebody, doing things that we feel others can point to and say, "Look, she did something."

In contract, as people of faith, we want to be someone who others can say of, "I feel loved when I'm with you.  I feel accepted.  I feel heard and seen."

And we can only become people like this, by choosing the life of the beloved.

A New Heart

When we single-task, we become single-hearted. We experience God's love by choosing God's nearness -- by resting in the discovery of who God made us. Jesus told us  ---

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." matt23:37

We often think about loving God with our mind -- study, analyzing, understanding, thinking about God's love and God's will and God's truths.

But, the soul is where we experience God's love, God's will and God's truths.

Since I've had my panic attacks and am now recovered, I have a new heart. It's awakened, but I can't do life like I did before.

My heart can't multi-task. My new heart does not allow me to be torn.

If I try to multi-task, I experience a lot of anxiety. This is hard, because I'm used to knowing I'm accomplishing. But, I like this new me more: awakened and alive.

Your Daily Good

I want to keep singing my new song. So, I'm learning to choose my daily good. To be the beloved.

Don't put yourself last on your list. Do the opposite.

When you feel torn and undecided about how to spend your time, choose what is good for your soul.

Be bold. Choose your daily good.

Commit yourself fully to be present - enjoy pursuing the nearness of God - by spending time in ways that nurture who God made you --  even though you have no idea where any of it will lead.

Choose the joy of rest and don't turn from it.

Make room for God by making room for you.

Say yes to rest.

Single-task.

~~~~~~

Do you find it hard to single-task?  

I hope you enjoy this week's {Yes to Rest} #spiritualwhitespace prompts below. 

Pull up a chair. Share  a comment below.  

This is a restful place to sing our song.

~~~~~ 

findingspiritualwhitespace_book For inspiration on creating more room in your life to breathe, order a copy of Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul To Rest, which has garnered starred review praise from Publisher’s Weekly.  This memoir-driven guidebook for rest is for anyone longing to create space to draw closer to God. Learn how a life-long dream unexpectedly launched Bonnie into painful childhood memoires to discover a better story of rest. Visit TheBonnieGray.com to learn more. 

"Whitespace is soul grace. Bonnie Gray ushers weary women into the real possibility." - Ann Voskamp, NY Times bestsellng author of One Thousand Gifts

"If you want to hear Jesus speak more tenderly to your soul than ever befrore, this is the book for you." - Lysa TerKeurst, NY Times bestselling author of Unglued

"We live in a culture that brags and boasts about being busy. Into that reality steps Bonnie with a new idea.
Whitespace is an important concept and Bonnie has captured it perfectly. 
-Jon Acuff,NY  Times bestselling author of Start!

Bonnie Gray is the soulful writer behind FaithBarista.com serving up shots of faith for the daily grind.  She is a contributor at DaySpring (in)courage, her work spotighted by Christianity Today, Relevant, Catalyst Leadership and Publisher's Weekly named Bonnie of the Top 6 notable new religion authors. After graduating from UCLA, Bonnie served as a missionary, ministry entrepreneur, and Silicon Valley high-tech professional. She lives in Northern California with her husband, Eric, and their two sons.

*Don't miss!* If you are new to Faith Barista, I'd like welcome you here. Click here to subscribe by email -(free) and get each post in this series served up hot and fresh directly in your mailbox

 

{photo credit: faithbarista reader @michelleviscuse on instagram from the #spiritualwhitespace community.}

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