Common Sense Steps to Achieve ‘Soul Longings…’

     In my last posts, I’ve explored three words I’ve chosen as overarching themes for 2020: Serenity, Simplicity, and Stillness.

     All are longings of my soul! Some may be longings of your soul!

     My mind gravitates toward ideas and works well when I begin with a vision. In a recent conversation with my Millennial daughter, I realized that isn’t the case for some.

     My daughter, a busy woman navigating a hectic life season, juggles the demands of career, family, and faith. She’s a logical thinker, designed by God—unlike her mom—with an analytical mind. Her thoughts went something like this: “When I hear words like serenity, simplicity and stillness, I think, Well, wouldn’t that be nice! What I need are practical suggestions I can use to make those things real for me!”

     Pondering my daughter’s words, I realized that while a vision is important, unless I take concrete action steps, my soul’s longing will remain a wish. Today I’d like to give a few practical suggestions.

Serenity: The most common portion of the Serenity Prayer[1] [God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference.] has become an important prayer tool.

     When I think of these words, my mind goes to three columns. Years ago, they were in writing. Today they’re etched into my brain.

     The Cannot Change column includes the names of any person I know and love as well as anything that’s happened in the past and includes this question, “How much of my emotional energy am I spending on what I cannot change?”

     The Can Change column includes practical action steps and what are frequently known as SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-specific).

     The I Don’t Have a Clue Right Now column joins hands with counsel found in James 1:5, one of the most important scriptures I’ve ever learned: 

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. (NLT)

Simplicity: A reader friend told me about her cousin, an admitted “thrift-store addict.” This spiritual ‘ah-ha’ helped her step into simplicity.

The Lord gave my cousin the idea to give away five of every piece of clothing (e.g. five of every color shirt; jacket; pair of jeans; type of shoes: sandals, tennis shoes, boots.) Then, she agreed to let her husband—while she was at a conference—clean out the garage. To her dismay, he got rid of some favorite Christmas decorations. She was struggling with the loss when she felt the Lord’s whisper. “Why are you mourning stuff? Accumulating and storing all that stuff has robbed you of time with your husband, grandchildren, and friends!” She decided that this Christmas, she would focus on her family of six kids and their families. Everyone commented it was the best Christmas ever, and she has experienced a whole new level of peace!

Stillness: These suggestions come from my daughter:

  • Set a time goal in order to create stillness and space to meet with God. For me, this means getting up earlier than I need or even would like so I have quiet time.
  • Shut down social media and other phone ‘stuff’ for a time.
  • Journal thoughts, questions and prayers.
  • Take time to read a devotional with the kids.
  • Prep meals to free up some time in between work and dinner.
  • Create a quiet time for the kids even if they don’t nap.
  • Set a standing calendar reminder or app to remind me to read my Bible or pray.

     My daughter says even though these are “common sense” solutions, she needs to be reminded it’s easy to lose sight of the importance of creating moments of ‘stillness’ when feeling overwhelmed. “Finding joy in the life God has blessed me can be hard. Books that have really helped me are How’s Your Soul by Judah Smith, Present Over Perfect by Shauna Neiquist, and Loving My Actual Life by Alexandra Kuykendall.”

     My prayer as I conclude this post is you will find at least one of these suggestions helpful as you consider what serenity, simplicity, and stillness might look like for you…

Sue Reeve

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