A Steady Diet of Truth

Gina Butz dependence on God, truth 2 Comments

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

My daughter and I recently watched a few seasons of Survivor. It’s fascinating. I would be terrible on Survivor for so many reasons, one of which is that I get seriously hangry when I’m deprived of food. I would be useless in the challenges. Grumpy around camp. They would vote me off SO fast.

Nearly starving yourself in extreme conditions looks insane, but that’s the way many of us can live. I’m not talking about food. I’m talking about truth.

Why We Starve Ourselves

When we get busy, one of the first things that can get pushed out of our schedule is time with the truth.

We might have the best intentions to spend long periods of time soaking in scripture, parsing verses, digging deep into a word study. But then we stay up too late and sleep in and decide to skip the word that morning.

Or the responsibilities pile up and instead of feeding on truth, we take up the time with one more task. I know that’s been the case with me the last few weeks in the rush of graduating a child. It’s, “I’ll pray while I walk,” or, “I’ll listen to a spiritual podcast while I (cook, do laundry, etc).” But instead of praying my mind wanders, and instead of spiritual podcasts, youtube seems more entertaining.

For a while, we can get by that way. But if we do it for too long, we begin to be people who truth snack our way through life. We eat just enough to get by. When our souls feel a little weary, we throw them some scripture, a short devotional, a few minutes of prayer.

And so we starve.

But why?

Why do we just get by, when we could be gorging our souls on what they desperately need?

We can gorge ourselves on truth.

If there is one area of our lives where we can eat until we are stuffed, it’s on truth. Reading scripture. Spending time listening to God. Filling our minds with what is true, instead of listening to ourselves.

And we need food for our souls not only on a regular basis, but even more so in those difficult times. The times when our souls are strained, pushed to the limit, when more is asked of us.

When we are most tempted to get by is when we need to stop and gorge ourselves. Admit our human need for something greater to sustain us, and eat what is good. Feed on the bread of life. Drink the living water. The more we do, the better able we are to face the trials that come.

Feeding Ourselves Takes Time

In some seasons, I wish things were easier and I didn’t have to eat so much. I wish I didn’t feel so needy, or that it didn’t slow me down. But that’s when we need to get over ourselves and surrender.

In Isaiah 55, God invites us,”Come and eat. Buy wine and bread without cost. Feed on me.” Why would we say no to this invitation? There’s no reason for us to starve. We can always be going back and asking for more, finding that truth that satisfies our souls, that carries us through the day.

Our son is going to college this summer. We had to choose a meal plan-either pay through the nose for an all-access plan in the dorms, or do what they call, “Declining Balance.” In other words, put money on a card that they can use anywhere. This plan leans heavily on finding cheap ways to eat-think cereal and ramen. Seems like a sure fire way for our son to lose weight and/or contract scurvy from lack of vegetables.

Friends, we don’t have to choose. We have the all-access plan, and the glorious part is that it’s free. We don’t have to live on a declining balance. Stopping to eat does not slow us down-it fortifies us for the journey.

So friends, let’s eat.

“Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare.” Isaiah 55:2b

We Grieve and Then We Hope

Gina Butz grief, hope, transition 0 Comments

We Grieve and We Hope

Photo by Stephen Walker on Unsplash

“I don’t know if I’ll ever find what I have right now again. There’s just so much that’s unknown.”

That was our son’s deep cry as we talked one night. He’s slogging through the final weeks of his senior year of high school, staring down freshman year at one of the country’s largest universities. It’s a big transition.

His days are consumed with studying for AP tests, shifts at the local grocery store, graduation parties, and college prep. This chapter is closing in a flurry of activity, so much so that finding the emotional space to prepare for the next chapter is difficult. He despairs in the loss, and fears for the future.

We all come to places of transition where the temptation is to despair or fear. Instead, we can choose to grieve and hope. Read the rest of the story today at SheLoves magazine. 


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When Grief Surprises You

Gina Butz grief, transition 0 Comments

When Grief Surprises You

Photo by Tim Marshall on Unsplash

I’m in a season of grief right now. Oh, I’m not sad all the time. It surprises me, actually. It comes in waves, like the ocean.

I’ve become more acquainted with the ocean now that we live 45 minutes from it. I love walking along the beach at sunrise. The waves are so unpredictable. They surprise you sometimes, coming up further than you expect. You can’t predict them.

Sometimes the water stays far away. Other times it stretches out and touches your feet, even washing up to your ankles if you’re close enough.

That’s my experience of grief.

If only it were a linear, predictable process. Hard at first, and then gradually subsiding. Less and less over time, until you don’t feel it anymore. A clear timeline with a precise end date. You do your grieving and then you’re done, praise Jesus.

Instead, grief feels like a stranger popping out from behind doors at the most unexpected times.

When we walked onto the stage to stand with our son at graduation, I was surprisingly calm. Later, as one of his good friends stood there with her parents, I lost it.

When I have thought about graduation in the past weeks, I have felt more pride than sorrow. Then a week ago I read an email from friends overseas and the tears spilled over at how well they’re doing.

His graduation party was all joy, then last week I folded one of his never-to-be-worn-again uniform shirts and I broke down.

That’s the thing with grief-it’s all right there, but we can’t control or predict it.

I’m often frustrated by this unpredictable guest. Probably because it reminds me that I am not always doing as well as I would like (or like others) to think. It keeps me vulnerable, never knowing when a wave of grief might catch me off guard, when I might start crying about some random person’s life, when it’s really just touching my own.

But I’ve been learning these last few years that grief is a necessary companion. In fact, it is a doorway to wholeheartedness.

I know that part of the reason my grief comes out sideways is that I don’t want to deal with it. It’s easier to stay focused on my to do list, buying dorm essentials and harping on him to finish those thank you notes (I swear, he’s working on them), than to let the waves crash so hard I lose my footing.

But losing our footing in grief is what we must do sometimes.Twitter More and more I am learning to stop and walk straight into the waves. To let myself dwell on what we are losing, and how much it hurts to lose. To say a proper goodbye to this beautiful season we have lived.

When I do, I find that those waves don’t drown-they heal.

And I’m learning that I cannot navigate the waves alone. It’s easier to weather waves of grief when there are people walking beside us, holding us up. They hold our hands and make us brave as we walk into the waves. We need those people who will life preservers, keeping us afloat while we to swim in the grief for a little while.

We can’t fight the waves. Instead, we can accept that they are a natural part of the journey. We can give space to our souls to process the grief when it comes. And we can invite others to hold space for us to feel all of it, so when the waves do come, we can swim.

Let the sorrow come and touch you. When we do that, we let ourselves be human. We live wholeheartedly. Let grief surprise.

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Permission to Make Mistakes

Gina Butz grace 2 Comments

Permission to make mistakes

Photo by Daniel Tafjord on Unsplash

A friend of mine called one afternoon, in tears. She messed up. No way around it, no sugar coating. She made a mistake. It left her feeling disqualified.

I resonate with the feeling. I’m an Enneagram 3-failure is my kryptonite. The accompanying shame is my greatest fear. That’s the kicker, right? The shame. The sucker punch in your gut that you can’t shake. That feeling not just that we did something wrong, but that there’s something wrong with us. 

Mistakes happen. We all know that. We all make them. But there’s this pervasive sense that we shouldn’t.

If only we had planned better, worked harder, been smarter, caught ourselves sooner, it wouldn’t have happened. Mistakes feel like an indictment.

Lies, all lies.

We are too hard on ourselves

Gosh, I wish we could let ourselves make more mistakes. I wish I could let myself make more mistakes. Later that afternoon I texted my husband about a decision I made that resulted in us missing a deadline, and I told him, “now I’m questioning all my life choices.”

It was a $20 mistake.

His response, “So you’re questioning all your life choices over $20?”

Yes! Yes, I am. Let me have this! It feels proportionate!

But it’s not. I’ve said it before, and I will say it until my dying breath-we are too hard on ourselves. We are harder on ourselves than anyone else is. What feels disqualifying is just evidence of being human. It’s an opportunity to brush ourselves off, laugh, keep going, and maybe learn something in the process (like pay closer attention to deadlines).

When my friend called that day, she said, “It feels like grace has run out for me.” (One of those, “I know it’s not true, but right now it feels true,” statements).

I get it. That $20 mistake came on the heels of a much larger, much more life-changing mistake we made a few weeks prior regarding our son’s housing for college that stung. Hard. We’re understandably a little gun shy. It feels like grace could run out any minute.

But it won’t. It doesn’t. Not for us. Not for her either. Cause grace doesn’t run out. (say it again, this time with feeling!)

Grace. Doesn’t. Run. Out.

Mistakes don’t shut the door to grace-they open it. Twitter They are an invitation to others to come alongside us and speak the kindness and gentleness we need. It’s easy to believe that people stick around because we’re doing it right. Every time we fail, we give others the chance to prove that those who really love us stick around regardless.

Look to The Source

Oh sure, the reality is some won’t. From some people, grace may run dry. But (and I say this with great love for all the people) people are not a reliable source of anything.

A source, yes, but not THE source. And those who can’t offer grace usually don’t because they struggle to receive it for themselves. People can’t give what they don’t have. So while we may hope for grace from others, we can always rely on the Source.

The Source of grace never runs dry. God is overflowing with unmerited, never-ending grace.

So let mistakes be a reminder that our souls are thirsty, and the well is never empty. Let them lead us to admit that we’re human, limited, fallible, weak, and needy. Failure humbles us and causes us (hopefully) to reach out for just a little more grace.

Be a grace giver

And friends, we need to grab that grace. Not only for ourselves but for others. The more we give ourselves permission to make mistakes, to be human, to stumble and fall and get back up, the more we let the people around us do it too.

Then we end up living in a world where we’re all less afraid. We take risks because failure isn’t fatal, just humbling. When we learn to live with mistakes, we become the grace givers. And the world needs more grace givers.

So where did you fail today? How will you give yourself permission to make some mistakes? There’s more grace for you. There’s more grace for all of us.


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Why I Love Parenting Teenagers

Gina Butz parenting, relationships 2 Comments

Why I love parenting teenagers

photo by Trinity Kubassek

“Just wait until they’re teenagers.”

This is the phrase older parents throw out to younger ones when our kids are little.

As if it’s not enough trying to figure out how to sleep through the night, let alone do the dishes or laundry, now you have this forecast of impending doom. Fabulous.

It’s like when you start a new exercise program and people say, “Oh, just wait until you get to week 5. Week 5 will kill you!” Now I don’t want to get to week 5.

I used to imagine that our sweet, enjoyable children would turn into zombies when they became teenagers. All we had invested in them would be wiped clean. Despite our best efforts, they would slide into the inevitable. I kept waiting for it to happen.

I waited. And I waited.

Friends, I would like to report that, contrary to these dire predictions, I really, really, really love being a parent of teenagers. Let me tell you why:

Why I love being a parent of teenagers
  1. They are independent

    The day we realized we could leave our kids at home alone felt like the clouds parted and the angels sang. Sure, there are phone calls like, “Hey-you told me to go to the dentist, but you didn’t leave me a car,” and “help! I left the cardboard under the pizza and now the top’s done but not the bottom!” (seriously, these things happened), but it’s all good. Not having to meet all their day to day needs means we have more energy to simply enjoy being with them. They’re learning to figure out life on their own, and we get a little bit of life outside of parenting back. Win-win.

  2. We have adultish conversations

    Gone are the days when I’m desperate for an adult conversation because I get to have them on a regular basis with these kids who suddenly have minds of their own. More and more, we get to engage in deeper topics with them-faith, politics, relationships. Bonus? While they can talk on this level, they’re still willing to listen to our viewpoints and generally believe them. One of my greatest joys? Our kids are versed in Enneagram, which is one of my favorite things in the whole world. It’s like they just showed up to my party.

  3. They challenge me

    While I love seeing them, our daughter, in particular, keep up with my snarkiness, that’s not the only reflection of my character I observe in them. Nothing like seeing your own faults in a mirror, right? Yet it’s a good check in my spirit to reflect on myself and what I’m modeling for them. But more than that, our kids are gaining wisdom of their own. One day, my husband walked into the kitchen and commented on the challenges of leadership. Our then 16-year-old replied, “If you’re leading, and everyone still likes you, you’re probably doing it wrong. ” Indeed. They drop these wisdom bombs on us from time to time.

  4. They still need their mama

    Despite all the independence and adulting that’s happening around here, they still come to us for advice, encouragement, and help, and I love it. Most mornings, our son’s first stop is on the couch next to me, content to just be. I’m still the go-to for problems our daughter encounters (cause she still thinks I’m smart. That may change. Fingers crossed it doesn’t). They’re walking that line between child and adult, and it’s such a blessing that they still want us to walk it with them.

  5. They are becoming their own people

    One day after we checked out at Walmart, our daughter immediately opened our newly purchased box of Quaker Oat Squares and started eating them, which is exactly what I had been thinking to do. “We’re literally the same person,” she commented. Yes, but no, in so many ways. She can’t understand my love for the spotlight. I am baffled by our son’s engineering mind. She has far surpassed my athletic ability (didn’t take much, but still). They struggle with different Achilles heels (after all, they are different types than me on the Enneagram!). More and more they know who they are and who they are not. I love seeing their uniqueness unfold in this season.

I won’t pretend that parenting teenagers isn’t hard. Some days it’s, “I’m not cut out for this, where’s the counseling degree I need? Calgon take me away!” kind of hard. I’m fully aware that for many people, this is a turbulent, heart-wrenching season. Trust me, we’ve had some rough patches too.

But my desire in writing this is to call us to hope. Dire predictions can slide into self-fulfilling prophesies if we do not hope for better. My point is that it’s possible to enjoy this season, especially if we’re on the hunt for the good in it.

So chin up, future parents of teens. It might just be better than you think.


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Learning To Be

Gina Butz Uncategorized 0 Comments

Learning to Be

Late November, I hit a wall.

A panic attack out of nowhere led me to spend a week in bed recuperating, watching Hallmark channel movies to the point where there was nothing else in my YouTube feed. (I know, they’re terrible, but everything works out in the end. It’s so comforting).

The attack forced me to examine my life and make the tough decision to drop some significant responsibilities in my life. The mere thought of letting something go brought all the crushing lies of the enemy, “People will be so disappointed. This is proof that you can’t hack it. They’ll finally realize you’re not as great as they thought.”

Those lies dissolved the second I made the decision to quit and focus on less. The decision gave my soul freedom to take a much-needed breath and exhale fully.

But in this new found space, I wondered, “What will I do now?”

Pondering this question one morning on a walk, I felt the Spirit whisper, “What if you didn’t do, Gina? Why don’t you just be with me? Could you do that? Could you just be with me, and enjoy me?”

God continues to speak to me about slowing down and just being. Read the rest of the story at the Mudroom Blog!


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Question the Messages

Gina Butz expectations, identity, truth 0 Comments

Question the Messages

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Years ago, a hair stylist told me that I should always have bangs, and short, blond hair. And I believed her.

For years, I obeyed those rules. Whenever the crazy idea entered my head that I stray from them, her authoritative, expert voice rang in my ears, cowing me into submission.

I currently have long, brown hair, no bangs. And I like it.

Which makes me think, “What else have I taken as truth, and let guide my life, that isn’t necessarily true?”

Granted, a hairstyle isn’t life-altering. But let’s dig deeper.

What about my 15-year-old self, staring at that friendship break-up note that said I wasn’t worth being friends with anymore?

Or my college self, feeling the sting of a friend’s accusation, “You don’t care enough about relationships,” (oh yeah? tell that to 15-year-old me).

Messages about friendship. Our bodies. Our value. What we can do. What we can’t. How far we can go.

Not enough. Better to be safe than sorry. Be amazing. You don’t fit in. Be indispensable so others love you. Don’t rock the boat.

Along the way, we get marked with messages.

Those messages shape us. They shape how we see ourselves, how we present and protect ourselves. They tell us who we should be, or who we can’t be. But those messages don’t have to define us. They simply may not be true.

So we have to question them. Consider the source. Did they come from someone who was for you? Do they keep you from living freely? Do they stem from patterns over time, or from someone’s observation in a moment? Because friends, we are not moments.

When we learn to question the messages people give us, we can overcome them. Take a lesson from these fine people:

Modeling agencies told Marilyn Monroe she’d be better off as a secretary.

Rudyard Kipling was told he didn’t know how to use the English language.

Thomas Edison’s teachers said he was, “Too stupid to learn anything.”

Me, with my lack of bangs, and long brown hair.

Walt Disney got fired because he, “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” (that one makes me laugh out loud).

Imagine how different those lives would have been if they had carried those messages as truth. Friends, we wouldn’t have Disney World. Or light bulbs. Let that sink in.

So what messages are you letting shape your life?

Question them.

And then walk in the truth.


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It’s Going to Be Okay

Gina Butz grief, hope, trials 0 Comments

It's going to be okay

Photo by Chungkuk Bae on Unsplash

“It’s going to be okay.”

I recently told my husband that he can no longer say this to me when I am discouraged, anxious, or forecasting the demise of some aspect of my life (as I am apt to do at times).

I’ve always hated when people say, “It’s going to be okay.” I want to slap them.

“How do you know?” I wonder.

How, in the middle of this really stinky moment in my life can you offer this platitude? (Trust me, I’ve had it offered to me at really, really stinky moments).

But lately, I feel like God keeps telling me exactly that, “It’s going to be okay.”

Really, God? Is it really going to be okay? How can you say that? When I’m sitting here waiting to hear the news that could be life-changing, it doesn’t feel like it will be okay if it doesn’t turn out the way I hope. When we’re staring down disappointment, broken dreams, loss, shalom shattered, sometimes it doesn’t feel like it will ever be okay.

But He repeats: It’s going to be okay. Here’s how I know.

It’s going to be okay. Why?

This past week at church, we talked about Jesus raising Lazarus. When Lazarus falls ill, they send for Jesus by saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” I don’t send for people that way, but maybe I should, like, “Erik, the wife whom you love needs a foot massage.”

But that’s what defined their relationship. And just to be clear, John reiterates it in verse 5, “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.” Ah, so it wasn’t just them thinking he loved them. He really did. Our speaker pointed out how important it was to preface the story this way because, in the middle of the not okay that was coming, it would be easy to doubt.

It’s easy for us too.

He loves us

It’s going to be okay because He loves us. That’s the anchor where we sink our souls when life doesn’t look the way we feel it should. The God who loves us more than life is in it.

So it’s going to be okay. But not just okay. It’s going to be good.

Oh, but not necessarily good in the way we think it should be good. And that’s the problem.

The problem is that my idea of good is so focused on my comfort and happiness, focused on tangible, temporal things. In my world, the news is always what I hoped it would be. Jesus shows up in my time and my ways.

He is good

But It’s going to be good because He is good, and His purposes toward us are for our good. He is focused on our character and sanctification, on intangible, eternal things. He shows up in His time and His ways, that are so much better than ours.

His good is so much bigger. It’s a good grounded in the deepest love we can imagine, always working on our behalf.

It’s good in the way that Jesus didn’t just save Lazarus from illness, he raised him from the dead. That’s a better story.

He’s writing a good story

And that’s what I also know. It’s going to be okay because God is a good author. He is a good storyteller. He is writing a good story for us. And the story ends well.

We won’t see them as good stories if we hold too tightly to our idea of good. In my version of life, disappointment, broken dreams, and loss are not part of the story. But what kind of story would it be if everything was perfect?

A boring story, that’s what. The best stories have conflict. They have twists and turns and nail biting, “What will happen?” moments. And God’s writing the best story for each of us.

The stories God writes are stories of redemption. You can’t have redemption if you don’t have shalom shattered. You can’t have resurrection without death.

This week is a holy reminder that it’s going to be okay. Twitter Easter demonstrates His love for us. It is a testimony to God working good on our behalf. The story is one of triumph over the greatest enemy. He made everything okay.

We say this Friday is good, but it didn’t feel good to the disciples. It felt like the end of all their hopes. Disappointment. Broken dreams. Loss. It didn’t feel like it was going to ever be okay.

They didn’t know Sunday was coming. But God knew.

He knew that it was all for love. It was the greatest story ever written. All for us.

So when I slip into bed and anxious thoughts nag at my brain, I call to mind instead His voice telling me, “It’s going to be okay.” As I think about our son heading off to college this summer, and all the unknowns that go with that, He whispers, “It’s going to be okay.” I sigh my latest dilemma to my husband, and I hear him catch himself before he says it, but I nod, and say, “You’re right. It’s going to be okay.” 

When life feels like Friday, it’s going to be okay, because Sunday’s coming.

He loves us. Everything is working for our good. The story ends well. Maybe not today, or tomorrow. Maybe not until we see Him. But it’s going to be okay.

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The Challenge to Rejoice and Weep With Others

Gina Butz relationships 0 Comments

The Challenge to Rejoice and Weep with Others

Photo by Becca Tapert on Unsplash

After Hurricane Irma last fall, as I scrolled through my Facebook feed, I saw people rejoicing that their power had returned after the storm. Some never lost it in the first place.

I wanted to be happy for them, but it was hard when we were staring down day 3 without it. Days after that, we still had friends without power. I’m guessing they struggled even more than we did.

Sometimes it’s hard to rejoice with those who rejoice.

In the course of just a few weeks, we saw devastation in Texas, the Caribbean, and Florida. People lost everything. Yet as I scanned comments on articles about the aftermath, my heart broke over remarks flinging judgment at choices made to stay or go. Contempt poured over people where instead empathy was needed. Rather than entering others’ pain, people stood at a distance and thanked God it wasn’t them.

Sometimes it’s hard to weep with those who weep.

Romans 12:15 says, “rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep.” Both are challenging.

I used to think it was harder to weep with others, but lately, I see the challenge in celebrating as well.

Oh, it’s easy to do if I am in an unrelated situation, or I have already found my own happiness in a similar one. But when we share the same hunger, and you are fed while I am not, how do I enter in well? How do I set aside my lack to rejoice in your plenty?

There is the couple who longs for a child, watching their friends easily conceive. Consider single friends who watch as yet another friend gets married. Think of the one who is overlooked while a co-worker is elevated. My friend’s child succeeds but mine fails. He loses weight but you don’t.

How can we truly rejoice with others?

Rejoicing with others is a choice

The simple but hard answer is: it’s a choice we make. If we refuse to rejoice with others, we not only diminish their joy, we lose ours as well. Rejoicing when it’s challenging humbles us, reminding us not to hold tightly to the things of the world. When we do that, it’s a greater sacrifice of love.

But rejoicing with others does not mean we kill our own desires. In fact, we hold them steady. That requires us to do something else: allowing ourselves to mourn what we lack.

Weeping with others begins with ourselves

Rather than minimizing, ignoring, spiritualizing, or pouring contempt on our own pain, we enter it. We cannot weep with others if we do not weep for ourselves.

Oh, I know, that sounds scary, wrong even. We’re afraid we’ll get lost in the emotion, that we’re not exhibiting faith.

But when we acknowledge our own unmet desires, God meets us in them. Then, we receive His compassion and comfort. The more we allow ourselves to weep over our own pain, the greater our capacity to weep with others in theirs.

Rejoicing or weeping: either option requires that we hold someone’s pain-our own or someone else’s. That’s why it’s so hard to do.

We must be uncomfortable in order to be connected.

But when we are connected in this way, it is powerful and life-giving. That is why we are asked to do it in scripture, and why we must strive to do it well.

What’s harder for you? To rejoice with others when you are struggling? Or to weep with others, when they’re the ones experiencing trials?

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Learning to Walk (at an Unhurried Pace)

Gina Butz grace, rest 3 Comments

Learning to Walk: Slowing Down a Too Busy Pace

Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash

I shopped at Costco recently, and I realized, “I’m casually browsing.”

I don’t remember the last time I casually browsed anywhere. Most of my shopping expeditions are like ninja missions, “You have eight minutes. GO!”

This is one of the by-products of reclaiming my life.

It began a few months ago when I made the decision to step out of one of my roles at work. It was a tough choice, but one made from a place of humility: I was simply doing too much.

I felt called to slow my life to a walking pace.

In the months since it feels like my soul suddenly has space to breathe. You know that feeling after a big meal when you go switch into your elastic waistband pants? That feeling.

I’m finding margin in my life again. It feels good, for the most part. But it’s not without its challenges.

See, I’m used to running through life. So this invitation to walk, while inviting, is foreign. Walking is easier, and more sustainable, but I am not very good at it.

I know how to run. During my brief stint as an actual runner, I remember the challenge of faster, farther. No matter how hard a run was, the minute I finished my first thought was, “I bet tomorrow I could improve.”

It’s addictive, that kind of living.

Faster. Farther. More. Better. Longer. Squeezing every ounce of life out of every day, pushing the edges of our capacity, filling the margins until there’s no white space. After a while, we don’t know what it looks like not to run.

So in this process of learning to slow down, I’m finding I need to wrestle with two parts of me: my body, and my mind.

My body simply isn’t accustomed to breathing space. Just because your body slows down it doesn’t mean your heart rate does. In other words, just because you make space on the outside doesn’t mean your heart and soul know how to be still on the inside.

In this slower pace, I’m aware of how amped up my body can get. What used to feel like energy I realize now was anxiety, my body gearing up for a fight. I’m relearning how to breathe regularly, to notice when my body tenses involuntarily. Yoga helps.

And then there’s the mental battle. I find myself thinking, “But I could do more. Look! Open space in my schedule. I should fill it.”

It’s all fueled by deeper voices.

Some of those voices say, “See? I knew you couldn’t hack it. You’re just average.” Others say, “But people need you.” And still others, “They’ll be so disappointed.” And the worst for me, “Lazy bum.” The voices whisper that running is better. Faster. Farther. More.

The voices are wrong.

I recently read Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist, which in many ways gave me the courage to move this direction. In it, she says, “I’m going to find a new way of living that allows for rest, as much as I need, not just enough to get me through without tears, but enough to feel alive and whole, grounded and gracious.” 

This is what I hope walking through life will do for me-I will feel wholly alive, grounded and gracious.

I want to walk at a pace that allows me to keep time with the slowest person in my life. Lingering with, resting alongside, listening to, and seeing others. I have a suspicion that the more I do, the more grace I will give the person inside me who needs to be slow, weak, needy.

Walking helps me love.

It’s hard to love well when we’re running through life.Twitter I might wave as I pass you by, but I can’t be fully present. My hope is that as I rest, so can you. As I live in the space God has given me, not striving ahead or pushing the edges, I hope my life gives freedom to others to do the same.

I’m not there yet. Living an unhurried life is a battle in this world. But I’m encouraged by the ways I already feel more available and present for the people and passions that hold my heart.

So feel free to ask me how my walking is going, or pull me aside when you see my pace start to pick up too much. It’s a journey. I’d love for you to join me.


Related posts:

Warning: Don’t Forget to Breathe

Keeping a Sabbath Heart

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