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Bonnie Gray Christian Blog and Commentary

Bonnie Gray

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Bonnie Gray is an inspiring Christian writer and blogger, offering encouragement to keep faith fresh in the daily grind. Her writing springs from the belief that the beauty of faith often takes place when life goes off script. Bonnie is founder of Faith Barista and featured writer for DaySpring’s (in)courage site for women. Her writing is nationally syndicated and has been spotlighted on Christianity Today and McClatchy-Tribune News Services. Her search for God's calling has brought her to thrive through a variety of life transitions. She is a pastoral ministry graduate of Peninsula Bible Church in California, past missionary, and ministry entrepreneur launching a 30's singles ministry and workshops on Bible Study, Prayer, and Leadership. Prior to becoming a writer, Bonnie led a successful career in high tech as engineering and marketing manager, leading teams to deliver innovative products for Fortune 100 companies for 13 years. Bonnie is a passionate speaker serving up shots of faith in everyday life. She lives in the heart of Silicon Valley, California with her techie husband Eric, wrangling two boys on their homestead.


Painting God's love notes. Officers in the Warriors Transition Battalion
uncover their souls & stories. {Spiritual Whitespace Retreat, Nashville, TN}

Something in me changed. In a big way. It happened so unexpectedly.

 It happened in Nashville, a city I've never been before. It happened before I had my first taste of cheesy grits, the afternoon I boarded an airplane to come home.

It was happening as sunshine spilled through the windows of a swanky downtown restaurant, sitting across the table from Chaplain Captain Rob Sterling and his wife Anne Marie, as I spread sweet butter and raspberry jam onto warm fluffy biscuits.

What's happened is still changing me inside now, as I type to you here back in California, sitting at my keyboard in the heart of Silicon Valley.

I'm not the same as I used to be. I feel alive. Real. In a new way.  

Something I Imagined?

I went to Nashville split between who I felt I needed to be -- and who I really am -- to lead my first multi-day Spiritual Whitespace Retreat based on the book I just released over the summer with a group of people I felt the most unqualified to reach.

I didn't know if it was really true, if the change in me was real or not.  

So, I've been hesitating to write about the trip, afraid of really celebrating -- of really being happy -- of really calling this joy mine. Because what if all the soul-tectonic-plate moving changes I saw happening right in front of me in Nashville -- for the Military -- was just something I imagined?

What if all the stories people uncovered and shared with emotion -- moments pregnant with intimate quiet, roaring laughter, reflective respect as people journaled and shared, souls-breaking free tears of pain and words flowing, questions and doubts expressed -- happened but weren't lasting or true?

I've been teetering between feelings of euphoria and fear.

So, I've been waiting for the "After Action Reports", for the written feedback from the Chaplain, before I shared today's post with you.

What in the World

I've been trying to process it all -- what happened when the Military invited me to craft and lead a Spiritual Whitespace Retreat for the Warrior Transition Battalion, tasked with serving wounded soldiers, headquartered in Fort Campbell, KY.

I never could've imagined the first group I would lead on the soul-changing journey of rest and refreshment would be military officers, 90% of them men.

The men and women I was flying south to meet -- along with their military wives who shoulder the burden of raising families while dad is away on deployment -- are strong.

These officers are leaders who have succeeded in their service to our country because of their strength, perseverance, and ability to perform under unspeakable pressure. They have lead their units with excellence, order and control.

What in the world was I going to say that could make a real difference? What does a Chinese-American 5 foot woman born in San Francisco, Chinatown -- who suffered PTSD for the past two years with broken memories, uncontrollable anxiety and insomnia -- have to say to officers caring for injured soldiers, wounded from the battlefield?

Would They?

Leaders who have been in combat themselves are reliving them through the soldiers they care for 24 hours-a-day, on-call 7 days a week.  Phone calls wake them up at crazy hours during the night.  

By day, they look into eyes of soldiers who are confused, angry or depressed to guide them on the disorienting journey of healing and recovery.  They are responsible for each soldier's disorienting transition back to active duty, or for some with irreversible injuries, prepare them for the unexpected re-entrance into civilian life.

It's soul-wearying work.

It's a heavy burden to carry because it's often the strong ones -- the encouragers -- the doers --

who carry the heaviest burdens,

and incur the greatest emotional and physical cost,

who find it hard to express want or need,

while finding it easier to just get things done,

even if they truly long to receive comfort,

yet can't seem to give themselves permission to rest.

I felt completely unqualified. These are men and women of action.

Would they even want to go on a journey of the soul? (I imagined eye-rolling inwardly even though they would politely sit at attention.)

Would they uncover the stories of their childhood, their dreams and their today lives?  (I pictured pop-up bubbles over their heads with "Oh, no, I signed up for this touchy-feely stuff...")

Would they share their discoveries with God and each other -- with up different levels of ranking present in the room -- and risk being vulnerable?  (I imagined outright revolting at this point....)

Would I?

But, the biggest question that struck fear in my heart was this:  was I the one to take them on such a journey?

Would I be enough?

On the 8 hour flight there, I worked on changing the tone in which I was going to deliver the content.  These were "officers", I said to myself. I need to give them a "leadership training seminar" on spiritual whitespace -- give them information, statistics, studies. Something they can grab a hold of.

But, that would defeat the whole message of spiritual whitespace:  spiritual rest is a journey to be experienced -- with God and with others deeply.

Rest is relationship. Rest is being real. Rest is being known. Rest is taking the time, risk and creativity to nurture your soul -- in the unique way that you need. Rest is radical.

Making room for soul rest is an intimate journey of experiencing God's rest.

To do that, we need to move into new territory:  the vulnerable places in our stories.

This type of self-discovery and God-discovery cannot be done behind the safety of information or head knowledge.

An Experience, not a Certainty

Then, it struck me like the first crack of lightning crawling through a thunderstorm-filled sky on a sweltering Tennessee southern day: We were all going on a journey of experiencing rest that weekend -- including myself.

How could I possibly lead anyone to any life-changing encounters with God without taking life-changing risks to depend on God myself?

I realized I was looking for certainty but God was asking for my faith.

I decided to structure the weekend to guiding people to experience Spiritual Whitespace -- to sample and try different ways of experiencing rest -- rather than teaching it as a class to transfer information or learn about studies and anecdotes.

I decided I would take everyone on a journey of the soul -- in community -- in the same way Jesus led me to experience it in the privacy of my heart.

This was riskier and unpredictable. But, it would be real.

Rest would no longer become a solo experience in our heads.

Rest will become an in-real-life together-experience of the heart.

Suddenly

As I stood there that first morning, looking into the eyes of men and women I had never met, I stepped through the curtain of fear and became known. Everything I ever feared about myself, about God, the questions about rest and the answers I found, I shared.

As I led everyone through the arc of storytelling, journaling their childhood stories, connecting to God through silence and solitude on a solo nature walk, prayer and meditation, and visual arts (painting) -- people began to share deep, powerful stories.

Quiet. Stillness. People began to feel.  And remember.

Listening.  Seeing. People were moved.  Stories uncovered and shared. 

Writing.  Painting.  People became known.  Laughter and tears.  Experiencing intimacy with God. Each other. 

They suddenly became real. I suddenly became real.

Live.  Shaking.  Fearful. Hopeful.  Ashamed. Joyful. Desperate to know if we were more alike than different.

We all have stories.... I began to say. On the outside, we might look different. But, inside, we're all on the same journey. We're all on the same mission. To be loved. To be known. To be close to God. To each other. We all long for rest...

A Connection Never Before

As people began responding to the individual and group prompts and activities I prepared, I felt a connection I've never experienced before.

 I realized everything I've believed was broken about me and my story are the very parts that make me real  -- and empower me to connect with others deeply. 

You know the little girl who has always felt ashamed and hid -- who didn't seem to fit with all the unbroken people in the world? That little girl is no longer alone.

She discovered in Nashville that everything broken and beautiful that has shaped her story invites others to connect with God and share everything beautiful and real:  their stories.

The little girl realizes Jesus is more alive in her broken and whole than hiding and unbroken.

Everyone after all really does have a story.

"We are not very different at all," an officer standing over 6 feet tall (three of me could fit into him I think) came to share with me smiling during a break, with his wife standing next to him.

We are all sojourners in the journey of faith.

We are all deployed in the battlefield of life.

We all long to be known and loved. We all can rest.

And for one weekend in Nashville I'll remember forever, I have experienced this truth. And I'll never be the same again.

~~~~~~

Pull up a chair. I have some pictures to share with you below.

But, is there something God's invited you to risk being vulnerable with?

Share a comment below. This is a quiet place for you and me.

~~~~~ 

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

Oh, yes, that After-Action Report from Chaplain Rob Sterling, who invited me to come speak?

He's received the feedback surveys from those who attended. Here's an excerpt:

I can't thank you enough for the work you put in to the weekend. I am still hearing positive feedback about people's experiences, and that is a pretty rare thing two weeks after a retreat for us. There is a real sense that people can't go back to the way things were for them before, and the feedback I have received indicates that for most this was the first time they had done anything like this, and that something has changed in them. 

I have been to many conferences, retreats, and seminars. My bookshelves are filled with the resources I brought home from these events. I came home from this retreat with resources, but more than that, I came home with transformational words from God.

I really don't know exactly how you did it, but in the space of 2 days you created an environment that was more than just information about finding spiritual whitespace. It was spiritual whitespace.

It has been two weeks, and I am still working through what God spoke in to my life at this retreat. I think that's a sign of something good, something real, something permanent.

And it started with you being willing to talk about what you had been through, and how God met you in your journey.

Some Pictures To Share

Here are some pictures from the weekend.  I got permission to share a few photos from the retreat.  Due to privacy issues, I can't share any photos that include images/faces or anything that was created, written or shared at the retreat.

And I'm not at liberty to share details or examples of stories shared to honor the confidentiality agreement I made with everyone.  But, know prayers were answered in amazing, life-altering ways. told our brave men & women officers you prayed for them & we love them. Stories were shared & every soldier was brave in a new way.

Bonnie_gray_Nashville_Night

hello Nashville by taxi. just arrived to see you for the 1st time. what will you look like by day? {psst... kindreds, thanks for sharing your favorite café or bakery in Nashville on Instagram and Facebook for me...fave spots to enjoy? I had 1day of #spiritualwhitespace before the retreat and felt happy with recommendations from you in my back pocket.}

Bonnie_Gray_Nashville_Labyrinth

I arrived a day earlier before the retreat to have a day of whitespace myself.  good for the soul...walking a labyrinth... A soul date with God. {thanks to Instagram kindred @loribirleson for recommending Scarrit-Bennett, Nashville} #spiritualwhitespace

Military_Retreat_Breath

Her story deployed her to Bosnia & Afghanistan once upon a time. {#spiritualwhitespace artwork created during weekend by officer Y}

Military_Retreat_Rest

A music rest with whitespace breaking through. {artwork created by officer X from the weekend of #spiritualwhitespace}

Bonnie_Gray_Nashville_grits

First time in Nashville, I wanted to eat what y'all love here down South. These grits were GOO--OOD!! Oh yeah. Server: Bacon, sausage, or ham, ma'am? Me: no doubt about... Sausage! {What would you choose if we had brunch together?.. I'll share my fresh cut fries with you}.  #TheFarmhouseSoBro

Bonnie_Gray_Nashville_Farmhouse

Thank you Chaplain, Captain Sterling, & sweet wife Anne Marie for taking me to taste my first grits in Nashville. (I was scooping them up like no tomorrow, surprised I liked them.  my friends laughed and said, "it's the cheese that you like!" what an honor to share the journey together. #spiritualwhitespace

bonnie_gray_Nashville

Ok Nashville... By day you are hot, sweltering & wet like a rag, but I love you because the people here have music in their bones and in their soul. the soldiers I've met here & the kindreds who have prayed to carry me here have made this city a part of my story. I'm forever changed.  And I can't help but be happy.  from the inside out. #spiritualwhitespace {thank you friends for being a part of this chapter in my life}

 

I have been hungry for a long time.

Soul hungry.

I've longed for the cool mist of light spring rain, but I've been wandering in the desert.

The desert of my soul.

I haven't forgotten the memories of my youth, where the sun kissed summer into my hair as I lay lazy on the quiet river of yesteryears. But I've wondered, could the girl with stars in her eyes ever come back to me?

Because that little girl grew up. She discovered with each loss she sustained, she felt stronger when she didn't look up at the stars. She laid awake in her bed instead many nights, unable to sleep, trying to soothe her heart by hiding her dreams and covering her need. She was doing it all, yet something inside felt unsettled.

But she never said anything. She wouldn't want anyone to misunderstand and think she was ungrateful.

She didn't want to need comfort. Because maybe doing so would make her want it more and well, that would make life more complicated. She would have to make hard changes that would leave too many broken pieces in her story. 

And she didn't want that. 

She wanted to fit in with all the happy, unbroken people in the world.

The truth is she didn’t believe God could use anything she thought was weak. Or broken.

The truth is I didn’t believe God could shine his light through me weak and broken. Because if I really did believe such a thing, I’d have to speak in my broken and weak voice.

And I definitely did not want that.

A Piece of Herself

The little girl in me didn't know it, but every moment she stopped risking and chose safety instead, she quietly lost a piece of herself.

Every time she swept away the tears from her voice, she seemed to speak more boldly.

But the truth is, the intimacy she once nurtured with God flickered into a dimming memory.

She knew Jesus loved her -- but she forgot what it felt like to be loved. As is.

Her heart was tender toward others -- but she forgot what the tenderness of God felt like against the skin of her soul.

She lost her spark.

Becoming Beloved

The little girl in me tried to recapture that spark by working harder, smarter, becoming better at doing life. She tried to recapture it by being happy for others.

She became an expert at spectating life, rather than experiencing it fresh for herself. And she felt selfish and guilty whenever she longed to sparkle again.

She didn't understand those criticizing voices were lies from the past, who taught her that becoming beloved was only a truth to accept instead of an experience to boldly and wildly receive.

God loved me too much to allow me to hide my heart anymore. 14818919817_56afa089b7_h He brought me into a deeper journey of intimacy with Him. God re-awakened my soul to rest by letting it feel the pain of loss again. So I can recover the memories of my past and re-write them. And each time I did, the little girl began breaking through. 

I've been coming back alive, with each memory lighting up the darkness of pain.

Sometimes it takes more faith to fall apart with Jesus than to pray for faith to keep it from happening.

Sparkle

As I followed God on this new journey of soul rest, I heard the most beautiful, intimate whispers from God. And I began to remember what it felt like to sparkle.

I will be enough for you, Bonnie.

When your hands have finally let go of all your strength and you are only left with empty hands ...

When you finally accept that you cannot carry the burdens you were never intended to carry ...

When you finally collapse at the weight of denying your story ...

You will find that as you fall, fall, and then fall -- you'll find that I will carry you. (Is.46:4)

And like the stars that shine across the void of darkness, because I chose to light them thousands of years ago, so you could see them sparkle today -- all those thousands of deaths your heart sustained on this journey will only show how great my love for you has been, is and will be.

Your mother and father may forsake you, but I will never leave you. (Ps. 27:10)

And in those moments of greatest darkness, I will love you with an everlasting love. Again and again. (Jer. 31:3)

You will no longer be called forsaken or desolate. You will be called my delight. (Is.62:4)

You will be renamed and remade by my love. (Rev. 2:17)

You will sparkle like a diamond in the sky.

Intimately Near

When I think of these tender, beautiful words Jesus is whispering to me on this journey of rest, they are too beautiful to keep to myself.

I picture Jesus’ hand. How He reaches out to me. And you.  

In our broken memories. In the battlefield of our stories.

So even though the scariest thing for me is to be weak and uncertain, I know that is where Jesus is most intimately near.  

Beloved

If you wonder if you could ever find your spark again — remember this:

What God wants is for you to be known. To be loved. To find rest.

The way to find rest may not be the way you have imagined it. But, when you dare to be known, you are resting in the arms of Jesus.

And it’s there, resting, that you'll see the stars fall down on you.

God's love will rain on you like stardust as you look up at the sky again.

He will carry you, even as your arms hold no strength from all your weariness.

Let God love you. 

Give yourself permission to rest.

Through telling your story, you will give others permission to be known and loved too. They will find space to rest. Go where Jesus leads you, even if you feel no one else will find any worth in what you have to offer.

Remember, God's power is made perfect when we are not enough -- when we become the Beloved.

"Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one
and calls forth each of them by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
not one of them is missing.”
~ Isaiah 40:26

~~~~~

Are you longing to sparkle again?

Whisper a prayer and confide in your story. Let your light shine bright. As is. 

Pull up a chair. Share a comment. This is a quiet space for you and me. 

~~~~~ 

findingspiritualwhitespace_book For inspiration to sparkle again with intimacy with God, order a copy of Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul To Rest, which has garnered starred review praise from Publisher’s Weekly, listing Bonnie Gray as one of the Top 6 notable new religion authors.  This memoir-driven guidebook for rest is for anyone longing to create space to draw closer to God, for themselves, for rest. Learn how a life-long dream unexpectedly launched Bonnie into a debilitating anxiety and 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 and nationally syndicated through McClatchy-Tribune News Services. 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: hand-letter & calligraphy art by emdashpaperco; leaf photo by vinothchandar.}

Are you still in contact with your mom?  What about your father?

I never know what the person who's asking thinks about my answer.  It ties my stomach up in knots and my head feels tight because I know people have certain expectations of what it means to forgive.

It's not just about my parents, you know.  It's the whole question of what to do about people who aren't "safe".  It could be a girlfriend, a parent at school, a co-worker, a friend at church, or your in-laws and relatives -- or even your grown-up adult-children and spouse.

What does it mean to really forgive?

What Does It Really Mean?

As I continue to do interviews about Finding Spiritual Whitespace (I've done 17 interviews now in 5 weeks since its release), one topic frequently comes up:  forgiveness. It's usually asked in different ways --

Have you forgiven your mother and father?

Have you forgiven those who have hurt you?

How has forgiveness played a role in your story?

The simple answer is this: Yes, I have forgiven them.

But, what does the word "forgiveness" mean when people use it?

Does forgiveness mean that the memory of what and who hurt you are obliterated from your story -- and you should never speak about it?

Or does it mean you perform some sort of spiritual lobotomy and you no longer suffer the pain of what was lost or the hurt and disappointment of what was broken?

How do you know if you've really forgiven someone?  Does it mean you need to reconcile and re-engage with them -- as if the offense never occurred?

In some cases, yes.  There can be reconciliation when the person who hurt you has understood the pain that was caused and wants to make amends and repair the trust that was broken.

In other cases, no.  Reconciliation may not be possible. For a season. Or longer.

Where Life Flows

Forgiveness does not mean trust is freely granted or automatically restored.

Forgiveness does not mean you don't have boundaries, if their actions are unhealthy or cause you emotional, spiritual, physical harm. Forgiveness does not mean giving someone who has hurt you license to hurt you again.

Forgiveness does not mean open borders to toxicity, fear or intimidation to manipulate you into being the friend, girlfriend, co-worker, daughter, ministry worker, wife, ... (fill in the blank), fashioned in someone else's image.

You and I were made with beauty, worth, love and kindness in mind.  We are God's sweet child, made with intention, with an eye to details that make us works of art.

We need to guard our hearts, because that is where God speaks to us and where life flows. Proverbs 4:23

What Jesus Meant

I've been asking Jesus what He meant when He taught in the Lord's prayer --

"Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors." Matt. 6:12

I think  about the word debt.  Forgiving someone's debt means taking the offense off the "this person owe's me an apology".  It means I cross it off as "paid in full".

Instead of waiting or expecting the offending person responsible to love me back, take me back, stop hurting me -- to give me acceptance or belonging I long for -- I am now looking to Jesus to restore what was lost to me.

I'm looking to Jesus to restore the love, acceptance, understanding and belonging I need as I create a new life with Him.  And Jesus is providing these soul needs from new friends, spiritual mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers, who offer me hands of friendship and family.

What I say in  interviews to questions about forgiveness is this --

Forgiveness is an act of the will.  Out of obedience.  To release the person from owing you anything.  To no longer want payment in some way for what others took from you, broke or hurt in you.
But, forgiveness does not mean you no longer hurt. Forgiveness does not mean we don't talk about it. Forgiveness does not mean we hide our stories.  And pretend it didn't happen.
We're all broken in some way.  We all have wounds. So, we still have to take the journey to heal, to grieve, and cry -- in order to find what's beautiful, to awaken our hearts to what's real. So, we can take better care of ourselves. To feed our souls. And begin to dream again.
People (listeners and readers) should not feel guilty for feeling sad, depressed or angry because of what has happened to them. Having these feelings doesn't mean they haven't forgiven. It means they're just human.

God's Place of Rest

What the world needs isn't a pain-free version of our stories. It longs to see beauty in the broken. It longs to know what's lost can be loved & found again.

What the world needs is an compassionate, open heart that makes space to share real stories. People are suspicious of someone who isn't touched by brokenness.

Jesus knew this. That is why Jesus lived and even resurrected with a broken body and a broken story of pain, suffering and betrayal. Every story we read in the Bible echoes brokenness as it sings the amazing song of a God who makes us His place of rest.

You and I are God's place of rest.

As is.

A More Beautiful Place

Maybe this world would become a more beautiful and safer place -- if we were more willing to take one step out into the open. And invite others to not be so afraid.

Because with a loving, tender God, intimate with our losses (our debt), we can bring every chapter of our stories to Him and each other. The broken ones as well as beautiful ones. Because you and I carry both.  The broken and the beautiful.

This is what was on my heart these last week, while living my everyday life with two boys home for the summer -- as we survive on Legos, goldfish, and popsicles that make them sugar-giggly.

Forgiveness is not forgetting. Forgiveness is a movement to remember.  We don't have to carry the burden of perfection.

We can create spiritual whitespace -- to make room to receive from God what we've lost. To feed our souls with what we need.  So we can live as God intended for us:  alive and guilt-free.

Say goodbye to the prison of waiting for reconciliation before you live a life of joy.

God honors your scars and your story.

Give yourself permission to be happy. Even if the current chapter of forgiveness may still be lined with tears.

 "Out of the depths I cry out to you, O Lord. Hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive to my cry...

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word, I put my hope.

My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, ..

Put your hope in the Lord, f
or with the Lord is unfailing love

and with him is full redemption."
~Psalm 130

  ~~~~~

How would forgiveness free up spiritual whitespace -- room to rest and nurture your soul?  

Pull up a chair. Share a comment below. Let's enjoy a quiet conversation.

~~~~~ 

findingspiritualwhitespace_book For inspiration to explore new ways to rejunvenate intimacy with God and find your voice, order a copy of Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul To Rest, has garnered starred review praise from Publisher’s Weekly, listing Bonnie Gray as one of the Top 6 notable new religion authors.  This memoir-driven guidebook book for rest is for anyone longing to create space to draw closer to God, for themselves, for rest. Learn how a life-long dream unexpectedly launched Bonnie into a debilitating anxiety and 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 bestseller author of Unglued

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 and nationally syndicated through McClatchy-Tribune News Services. 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.

Get encouragement served up hot and fresh from Bonnie Gray's blog Faith Barista. Click here to subscribe for free email updates.  

Today's post is part of a special Book Launch Series {21 Days of Rest: Finding Spiritual Whitespace}.  Click here to read Day 1 and the entire series on rest.


(nanu, nanu... younger me. third grade)

When I heard of Robin Williams' suicide and death yesterday, I was crushed with heartbreak.  I wanted to cry.

Robin Williams made me laugh during a time in my life when my parents divorced.  When life was falling apart.

I loved watching Mork and Mindy. (proof: my third grade photo as mork)

I thought he was so funny, doing his little dances and totally spazzing out every now and then.

I loved he was an adorable Alien who somehow fell from the sky and had no idea how to get back home. I think that's how divorce felt like to seven year old Bonnie.  Something so catalytic, it propelled me far from home and landed me as an emotional alien on this earth.  

Mork didn't understand how the world works -- but he never stopped telling the truth.  And asking questions. About how things don't make sense.

I think the little girl Bonnie wished she could do the same. She wanted to be known. 

No matter how weird Mork appeared to others, he never stopped being who he was.  Caring. Curious.  Different.

Mork never stopped making me laugh.

And I loved Robin Williams for doing that -- for giving me the gift of laughter at a time I wanted the world to be full of aliens who wore suspenders and said "Nanu Nanu".

I wish I had a chance to talk with Robin in that dark moment he decided to take his life.  

I wish I could say something to bring him some hope, some comfort -- the same way he brought a measure of it into my life through his art.

I'm telling you. I shed some tears.  For my yesterday.  For Robin.

For we are all soul-starved and hungry. Soul-loneliness is our sad modern epidemic.

Because we're all soul-hungry, nothing is more soul-filling than to be known.

I wish I could tell you, Robin.

You don't need to die in order to taste rest.

There is hope in your hurt.

You can find home right where you are.  

God can meet you in your sorrow.  

Robin, I wish you didn't go.

I will miss you.

What I Know Now: A Letter To My Younger Self

" You are not forgotten. Don't run from your need. Feel your need and dare to follow your dreams. "

Today, in memory of Robin Williams, I'm sharing a letter I wrote to my younger self during the Mork and Mindy era. I wrote it two years ago, when my panic attacks began, to bring her near to me again. To heal and rest.

This letter reminds us no matter how long we've known God or walked with Him, we will all have questions about why life doesn't make sense.  We all experience broken feelings that we don't seem to fit into this world.  

And there will be times we will need to speak to the truth, even if it feels like no one else is saying it.  We need to ask the questions.  And we must give ourselves permission to tell our stories, because we all long for home.  So we can know we are not alone on this journey of life.  And offer kindness and kinship to each other. As is.

Here is the post...

This is a school picture of me, taken in third grade.  I loved wearing my Mork from Ork suspenders and my Hello Kitty necklace dangling front and center. My hubby Eric cracks up everytime I show him this picture.  But, it doesn't surprise him.  Yeah, I'm geeky.

I loved school even more than TV, so you can imagine -- my teachers loved me and always made me feel special.  I was the chatterbox among my school friends, so I can't say I was shy. I made good friends, played hot lava tag at recess and hold many wonderful, warm memories of elementary school life.

But, life back at home was a very different story.

Third grade was very significant for me.  Not only because the multiplication tables eluded me, while Pippy Longstocking won my heart.

But, it was a year of enduring many dark struggles, as a single parent child, from a divorced family.

My letter today is to her -- my younger self -- when I was the only Chinese-American girl who sat in my California third grade class.

~~~~~

Dear Bonnie,

You are bubbly by nature, curious and tomboy all rolled up into one.  You play kickball with the boys, but deep inside, you wish you had a pair of patent leather black party shoes too.

You always did your best and never stopped caring, thinking and doing until all was taken care of.  You wear a smile well and laughter is your default weather.  Your eyes sparkle with sunshine because the dreams in your heart keep you content and very low maintenance.

But, I see deep where no one can see. I see your need.

I know that your father left two years ago suddenly. Without warning, you woke up to find him packing to leave.  Your mother is not a safe person.  And there is no one left to confide in.  

You are the girl who can't stop talking in class -- who the teacher forced into exile in Siberia, scooting your desk to the class corner (still to no avail - no one can keep Bonnie from talking!).

But, here you are, with no one to hold your broken heart or hear your thousandth question. You don't think anyone hears you when you cry at night, when you stare up into the ceiling and watch the shadows dance off headlights from street traffic streaming outside your bedroom window.

Last year, you won second place in the district spelling bee. But, your momma met you with a sigh in her shoulders, her head shaking in disappointment, as you met her eyes of apathy after the awards ceremony.  Second place became last place and your sweet young heart fell crushed with regret.

Next year you will you write your first poem. It will be selected to be published in the school newspaper, which you will carefully fold, to carry home and put away quietly in your desk.

You've been brought up to believe that nothing good comes easy.  Only what's hard and bitter is served to you as love.

You don't know it yet, Bonnie.

But, none of your tears can erode God's love for you.

None of your loneliness can be hidden away, like your poem -- in the drawer of forgotten.

None of the coldness you wrap around for comfort is going to freeze the gifts God's given you.

I don't have an answer to why for you. But, I can tell you -- with undeniable certainty --- that you are not forgotten.

Every word you whisper on paper is carving out a hungry heart that will grow wide and deep for Jesus to speak into. You will not stop writing, even though no one seems to care. 

You will not stop loving, because your need will keep you vulnerable, longing and tender.

Whatever you do, you must remember this. Nothing and nobody can change who God has made you.

No mistake, no guilt, no abuse, no lies, no missed opportunities, no shameful words.

You will be afraid.  Very afraid.

But, even this cannot destroy you. Even if you don't believe it, it won't matter.

God's purpose for you cannot be erased. 

So, these are my words to you:  it's worth it.

Be broken.  Don't run from it.  Feel your need and dare to follow your dreams.

And when you feel you've been too broken and cannot stand the pain of being alone one breath longer -- break your silence.

Tell someone. Anyone.  Everyone.

Be that annoying needy someone -- until someone who can recognize the voice of Christ in your pain answers.

You must not hide, even at the risk of more hurt.  Which you surely will be, because you want to live fully. And you will.

When you give yourself permission to need -- to touch the place of empty, the place of wanting -- that ache of unrequited desire will lead you to fulfill God-sized dreams imprinted in you before you were even named.

Before the beginning of time, you were designed to need.

The more you lean into your need, the more you will be able to trust your dreams and pursue them with passion and fervor. No matter what the cost.  No matter how long it takes.

Your need entwines you to Christ.

Brokenness is beauty to Him. You are not forgotten.

No matter what comes.  No matter how invisible. You are not forgotten.

With all my love and tenderness for you,

Bonnie

 

~~~~~

"It will no longer be said to you, "Forsaken,"

Nor to your land will it any longer be said, "Desolate";

But you will be called, "My delight is in her," ...

For the LORD delights in you"

~ My Abba Father, Is.62:4

 

~~~~~

Are you feeling soul-hungry today?

What would you say to your younger self  -- based on what you know now?

At what point in life would you wish to speak to her-- and what would you say?

Pull up a chair. Write that letter and stay a little longer today.

Share a comment below. Let's swap some stories.

~~~~~ 

findingspiritualwhitespace_book For inspiration to explore new ways to rejunvenate intimacy with God and find your voice, order a copy of Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul To Rest, has garnered starred review praise from Publisher’s Weekly, listing Bonnie Gray as one of the Top 6 notable new religion authors.  This memoir-driven guidebook book for rest is for anyone longing to create space to draw closer to God, for themselves, for rest. Learn how a life-long dream unexpectedly launched Bonnie into a debilitating anxiety and 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 bestseller author of Unglued

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 and nationally syndicated through McClatchy-Tribune News Services. 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.

Get encouragement served up hot and fresh from Bonnie Gray's blog Faith Barista. Click here to subscribe for free email updates.  

Today's post is part of a special Book Launch Series {21 Days of Rest: Finding Spiritual Whitespace}.  Click here to read Day 1 and the entire series on rest.

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