The Body Series: Doing What Works for You


Taken on Captiva Island

March 2012


About three-quarters of the way through the yoga class I took yesterday, I had a bit of an epiphany. As I shared with a new friend afterward, it went something like this: 

I realized that yoga seems “meant” for me — my temperament, my pace, my way of being in life and with God, and perhaps (I’m learning) my way of being with my body. I found myself thinking that other ways of exercising have felt so harsh, and maybe that is one reason I’ve not gravitated toward them. They simply don’t fit who I am and the way I prefer to exist in the world. 

This realization came to me as I was stretching into a pose, leaning forward over my left knee while seated on the ground. The lights were off in the room, and all that could be heard was the continuous, rhythmic breathing of all of us in the room and the calming, gentle voice of our instructor, guiding us through the poses. 

This is such a place for me, I realized.

It’s quiet. Gentle. Soothing. Peaceful. Accepting. Even as it challenges me and my joints and limbs and muscles. 

When I woke this morning, I wanted to go back and do it again. 

In contrast, I’ve taken some other classes at the gym this week that haven’t had quite the same effect. The music was loud, the instructors’ voices abrasive. Sometimes there was a be as you are approach to the workout, but other times the instructions were strident and carefully defined (and usually defined well above my current ability!). 

And so this morning, as I tried yet another new class and found myself not quite connecting with it, I made a decision. There’s a way I can structure my availability to do yoga five mornings a week, and that’s what I’m going to do. It’s what I’m coming to love. I feel refreshed and invigorated and so happy after I complete those classes, so I’m going to just go with it. 

Additionally, I’m going to see what I can do to purchase a bike, and here’s why.

Last spring, I had the opportunity to stay on Captiva Island for a week with a bicycle as my main form of transportation — and I loved it! I hadn’t ridden a bike in so long, I was a bit wobbly on it at first. But soon, I was tooling around the island, taking the long way home sometimes, just because I didn’t want the ride to end, loving the feeling of the wind blowing on my face and neck and hair, a huge, invigorated smile on my face. 

About a month ago, I stopped by a local bike shop and tried a couple bikes on for size. Immediately, as I tested them up and down the street, that same smile lit up my face. I remembered just how much I loved that experience of riding a bike last year on the island. 

I’ve tried a couple cycling classes at the gym this week, and they’ve been OK. But they’re nothing like what I feel when I’m riding outside in the fresh air. 

All this to say, I’m moving in the direction of finding an approach to moving my body around that works best for me. 

What are you finding works best for you?

Still Points in the Day: Contemplative Lectures


Discovered on one of my #mileaday runs last week.

Kirk and I had the privilege of attending a lecture by Fr. Richard Rohr this evening — the same Richard Rohr who inspired the “Pieces of Formation” series we recently explored here in this space — and it was such a privilege. 

In the first place, we both love his writings.

In the second place, we learned tonight that he has two more months of traveling and speaking and then he’s retiring from it for good. (He has said he’ll only ever travel again if the Dalai Lama personally requests to see him. I’m sorta loving that!) So seeing him tonight was an unexpectedly rare opportunity.

More than anything, though, it was a privilege because of the kinship. 

When we walked into that packed room, I felt an immediate sense of camaraderie with the others there. People smiled openly. They made eye contact with you. They seemed relaxed and full of joy. 

And that was before Fr. Rohr even took the stage!

But when he sat down in that chair on the stage and began to speak to us about the formational process of the first and second halves of life, I felt my soul settle. I felt it breathe. I felt in tune with who I really am in this world — my heart for the deeper things, for contemplative spaces, for meaningful existence. 

In short, I felt connected to my true self. 

Which Fr. Rohr would say is the essence of real living.

I’m thankful for the way Fr. Rohr helped me think about things tonight. I’m thankful for the way he made me thankful yet again for the path I’ve walked — full of highs and lows — that have led me deeper into communion with God. I’m thankful for the way he made me thankful, yet again, for the chance to do my life’s work.

Are there people whose books or lectures make you feel more settled into your own soul?

Pieces of Formation: Personality and Temperament


My mom likes to tell the story that I was the kind of infant who waited patiently to be engaged by others. She would approach my crib or bassinet and find me laying there, awake and alert but quiet as could be, just waiting for someone to come get me. 

That quiet personality remains with me today. I choose quiet mornings. I invite others into stillness. I’m called to work in the deep places of the heart. 

Stillness and calm are two pillars of my true self, and they were with me from my earliest days.

What personality traits emerged for you early on? How have they shaped your choices and your path?

Closing Thoughts on Prayer

Reaching for the sun.

Hi, friends. 

I’ve so enjoyed writing this series on prayer for you.

I’ve loved receiving emails from many of you over the last 5 weeks who said you’ve been encouraged to learn all the various forms that prayer can take. Some of you shared your faith has felt validated by this series. Some of you have shared surprise at some of the entries, asking, “Can it really be?” Others of you have shared that you felt relieved, also asking, “Can it really be?” 

This series could continue on indefinitely, if we really wanted it to. I have a list in my planner that includes even more forms that prayer can be, including:

  • Dance
  • Study
  • Lectio divina
  • Cleaning the house
  • … and more.

I think what’s important to notice here is that prayer is life. 

When the apostle Paul wrote his first letter to the Thessalonian church and encouraged them to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17), I don’t believe he had in mind for them to kneel at their bedsides, brows furrowed, talking in concentrated verbal prayer every moment of the day to God.

I believe he intended them to learn to experience all of life as prayer.

To find connection with God in all we do. To discover the truth of our hearts in our activities. To offer those revelations to God. To consider the ways God might be speaking and inviting us to notice our hearts and his voice throughout our days. 

I’ll see you here on Monday with a new series to share. 

Much love,


Prayer Can Be ... Art Collage

Finished collage :: Intimations of Me.

My first art collage, June 2012.

In the course of a visit one time, a friend said she had something she wanted to share with me. We sat down on her comfy two-person rocker chair, and she pulled out an art collage piece she’d created.

All over the piece were images and words she’d pulled from various magazines and collected into one concentrated place. 

It was the words that arrested me the most. They spoke of realities near and dear to her heart. Realities we’d spoke often about in the years of our friendship. Realities she’d incorporated into her lifestyle and that had guided some of her biggest life decisions.

I was staring at a piece of her heart on that posterboard.

And it was holy. 

No words but three could escape my lips in that moment. “This is prayer,” I breathed.

“It is?”

My friend was surprised. She hadn’t created the collage with prayer in mind. She’d just set out to express what she cared about. 

But it was indeed a form of prayer.

When we get in touch with the most interior truths of ourselves — when we touch them, when we see them, when we say, “Yes, this is true of me” — we touch what God also sees. We touch God’s response: “Yes.”

Have you ever experienced art collage as prayer?

Redemption Coming to Ground

The face of Christ.

I’ve been feeling the disparity between life with God and life in the world this week. 

The world is sharp and prickly. It’s loud and oppressive. It’s bent on self-elevation and pride and status and social climbing and pushing others down. 

But life with God is humble. Quiet. Unassuming. Servant-like. Poor in spirit so much of the time. 

And then this morning, I was reading Isaiah 53 — the famous chapter that describes the Messiah, Jesus, to us in all his unexpected, paradoxical, surprising glory: 

Who believes what we’ve heard and seen?

Who would have thought God’s saving power would look like this?

The servant grew up before God — a scrawny seedling,

  a scrubby plant in a parched field.

There was nothing attractive about him,

  nothing to cause us to take a second look.

He was looked down on and passed over,

  a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand.

One look at him and people turned away.

  We looked down on him, thought he was scum.

— Isaiah 53:1-3

It makes so much sense that the world would respond to Jesus in this way. He wasn’t physically attractive. He didn’t possess the charisma of a power-hungry politician. He wasn’t after titles or fame or a worldwide platform of power.

He was here to speak truth. To embody love. To be with us in the realities of who we are. To bridge us to God. To offer us real life, which the world, in all its bankruptcy, never finds. 

It makes sense that even Israel rejected Jesus — Israel, who also came from unassuming, unsuspecting roots, too, and knew well that “nobody” status. Israel, who was unattractive and laughable to the nations around them. Israel, who lived by a code that didn’t make sense to the rest of the world. 

Israel, who decided, in the end, it wanted a king. 

Israel, who decided, in the end, it wanted to be like everyone else. 

Israel, who, in its own religious way, leaned upon power ploys and prestige and status, too.

This Israel “looked down on” Jesus and “thought he was scum.” And then led the parade that crucified him.

Life with God looks nothing like life in the world. It doesn’t make sense. It’s laughable sometimes. Its seeming foolishness confounds the seeming wisdom of the worldly wise. 

And yet it connects us to what is real. What is true. The actual ground of our being and existence. 

Paradoxically, it is where real life is found.

How is your life with God nonsensical through a worldly lens right now?

Living a Rhythmed Life: What Is Your Natural Rhythm?

You are beautiful.

Hi friends,

So, as we dive into this new series on living a rhythmed life, we’re going to begin by laying some groundwork — spending a little bit of time exploring the basic truths of ourselves before we begin looking at all the areas of life that a lifestyle of rhythm can affect. Also, we’re going to take a little time to understand what a rhythmed life is and what it isn’t. 

Let’s begin by getting in tune with the natural rhythm we carry inside ourselves, shall we?

I have always been a person who prefers quietness and a slow pace in my life, but it was just three years ago that I really owned that and explored what it would be like to live from that place of rhythm more intentionally. 

I made a little video detailing some of that process (recorded in 2009), which you can watch here: 

(If you can’t see the video in your e-mail or RSS feed, click here.)

You don’t have to watch the full 10-minute video. Mainly, I’d just invite you to watch the first 50 seconds of it, where I used my hands to show you the pace of my own internal rhythm.

And then I’d like to ask you:

What would it be like for you to do the same?

Take a minute of quiet right now to do this.

Close your eyes and go inside yourself. Gently give yourself permission to discard the demands of your current realities and really tune into yourself. What is the pace that hums along most naturally inside of you — not because of what external life asks of you but because it feels most true? What pace and rhythm feel like sanctuaried home? What rhythm is most real and life-giving for you? 

Move your hands up and down to indicate that pace and speed (like I did in the video). What is the measured tempo your most natural rhythm makes?

(If you’d like to create a short video clip to share your natural rhythm with us here, feel free to leave a link to your video in the comments. Or simply share what you notice!)

The True Self Is Radiant

Light shines through.

For the past several months, I’ve been honing in on the calling of my one particular life. It is something that, when I look back upon my history, makes total and complete sense. But it’s only recently that it’s become clear and integrated. It’s only recently that I’ve acknowledged it and begun embracing it with trust.

One of the firm foundations of my calling, I’ve come to see, is to present Jesus. And this morning, as I walked on the beach with Jesus and talked with him about this, I was struck with such amazement that God wants me — me! — to be a part of other people’s journeys toward greater closeness with himself. 


Yet even as I told Jesus how hard it is for me to wrap my mind around that reality, I saw such joy on my face. There was a natural, full smile on my lips. 

There was radiance. There was joy. 

I didn’t do anything to make the joy or radiance appear. It just, suddenly, was there.

And it made notice: our true selves are really that way. Radiant. Full of joy. Smiling with freedom and ease. Unguarded. Vulnerable. Confident. Free.

Can you recall any moments when you have experienced such radiance in your own life?

It's Nature and Nurture

Right now.

I was reading Psalm 104 earlier this week and deeply encouraged on so many levels — namely, with the recognition that it is nature and nurture that make us who we are. 

The psalm speaks mainly of the natural world — of oceans and mountains and all kinds of animals. Here is a portion of the text: 

You blanketed earth with ocean,

   covered the mountains with deep waters;

Then you roared and the water ran away —

   your thunder crash put it to flight.

Mountains pushed up, valleys spread out

   in the places you assigned them.

You set boundaries between earth and sea;

   never again will earth be flooded.

You started the springs and rivers,

   sent them flowing among the hillls.

All the wild animals now drink their fill,

   wild donkeys quench their thirst.

Along the riverbanks the birds build nests,

   ravens make their voices heard.

You water the mountains from your heavenly cisterns;

   earth is supplied with plenty of water.

You make grass grow for the livestock,

   hay for the animals that plow the ground.

God’s trees are well-watered —

   the Lebanon cedars he planted.

Birds build their nests in those trees;

   look — the stork at home in the treetop.

Mountain goats climb about the cliffs;

   badgers burrow among the rocks.

The moon keeps track of the seasons,

   the sun is in charge of each day.

When it’s dark and night takes over,

   all the forest creatures come out.

The young lions roar for their prey,

   clamoring to God for their supper.

When the sun comes up, they vanish,

   lazily stretched out in their dens.

Meanwhile, men and women go out to work,

   busy at their jobs until evening.

What a wildly wonderful world, God!

   You made it all, with Wisdom at your side,

   made earth overflow with your wonderful creations.

Oh, look — the deep, wide sea,

   brimming with fish past counting,

   sardines and sharks and salmon.

Ships plow those waters,

   and Leviathan, your pet dragon, romps in them.

All the creatures look expectantly to you

   to give them their meals on time.

You come, and they gather around;

   you open your hand and they eat from it.

If you turned your back,

   they’d die in a minute —

Take back your Spirit and they die,

   revert to original mud;

Send out your Spirit and they spring to life —

   the whole countryside in bloom and blossom.

— Psalm 104 

We’ve been talking quite a bit these days about the true self and the false self.

I would define the true self as the image God had in mind for us when he conceived to create us. It is a self connected to God and rooted in the reality of God’s good intention for our existence.

I would define the false self as anything in us that separates or disconnects us from God and our true self. This can include original sin, chosen sin, or simply the distractions and diversions that we seek out in an attempt to build ourselves up into an image we’ve created for ourselves, rather than the image already given to us by God that is deeply good and beautiful. 

In this passage above, I see so much that speaks to these dynamics, both in the ways we were created to exist (the true self) and the ways we can be de-formed away from that existence (the false self). 

Let’s begin with the way God created the earth and all that dwells within it.

In its serene, contented, intended state, all of creation responds to God and is given everything it needs by God. We see the plants and animals and livestock responding to their existence by simply going about it. They eat grass that never stops growing up for them, they build nests with endless supplies for the making of them, they trust God for their next meal. 

This is the intended existence of life: being who we were made to be, un-self-conscious about it, and trusting God for everything good thing. 

But then think about what happens to animals when they’re harmed. 

When I read this passage the other day, I thought about my lovely cat Diva.

Kirk rescued her as a kitten from behind an opera house (hence her name), but she was a matted, mewling mess. She’d been abandoned, and the elements had not been good to her. She weighed next to nothing, and she skitted away from human contact. It was only because of the immediate way Solomon took to her that day — Solomon, whom Kirk was also rescuing that day — as he began licking her all over, cleaning her fur, as soon as they were set down in a box together, that Kirk knew Diva was going home with him that day.

When it came time for me to meet Diva for the first time, about six years after she’d come to live with Kirk, he warned me she would likely run away and hide under a table or couch, scared. But instead she came near, smelled my feet, rubbed against my legs, allowed me to bend down and run my hand along her back quite a few times. 

Over the last seven years of my life with Diva, she’s grown. She still gets skittish, especially fighting against too much presence crowding her space if you hold her close to your chest, but she has a quiet confidence about her. She rests next to me on my desk each morning, content to simply be with me. She waits expectantly by my chair, staring up at me with an unending gaze of plaintive eyes, begging me to give her some affection and completely unafraid to ask for it. She has grown a very full and soft, downy coat of fur (and a little bit of a healthy-sized belly!). 

Nurture has affected her — both for ill (in the early days of her life) and for good (thanks to kindness and unconditional care).

We know this to be true of all animals, too. Those who’ve been abused become frightened or, sometimes, angry and abusive themselves. But the psalm shows the true, intended state of the animal kingdom to be that of peace and trust.

So it is with us. 

We have a seed of God in us — it is the presence of our true self. We also have the seed of the fall of mankind in us, as well as the seeds of all that has nurtured us toward health or harm. 

We are both. 

We Form by Degrees

One lone beauty.

I was talking to a dear friend of mine earlier this week who just finished her second half-marathon. I am so not a runner and can’t imagine doing something like that myself, but I absolutely admire and stand in awe of her for setting her mind and body to doing it and then accomplishing it. 

Because this was her second half-marathon, running has clearly been a part of her life for some time now.

I remember when she declared her goal to run a half-marathon the first time, and then I watched her join a formal running group and incorporate training runs into her weekly schedule. 

After her first half-marathon, she shared with me that she’s discovered running is most fun for her in the sweet spot of about 5-6 miles. She wasn’t sure she’d run a half-marathon again since she’d learned that about herself.

But then last fall, when she came to stay with me for a week, she’d recently made the decision to train for this second one.

I remember waking up one morning during her visit last fall to learn that she’d already gone for a 2-mile run in our neighborhood, having pulled up our address on Google Maps and mapped out what seemed like a good route for herself. And then I watched her sit at our farmtable in our front room that same morning and plan out her training schedule for the next few months, steadily marking an increase in mileage for each week that would get her up to the 13.1-mile race day.

When we spoke earlier this week about the race she’d completed over the weekend, it just struck me with so much force: 

“Katy,” I said. “It’s kind of amazing that you’ve become the kind of person who can run 13 miles in one go. All your training has led to you being someone who has that capacity now.”

She didn’t used to be the kind of person who could run 13.1 miles. But now she is. Her wise and intentional training led her there. 

It gets me thinking about spiritual formation. 

We are human beings designed for growth.

We grow in the womb, and then we proceed to continue growing outside the womb in so many different directions. In fact, it seems the nature of every living thing is bent toward growth. Animals do it, trees and plants do it, and sometimes I wonder if the growth element God seemed so keen on implanting in living things will continue somehow still in heaven.

And our growth always happens by degrees.

It’s so tempting to think of the ideal life of Christ — or even just our ideal notion of a Christian — and expect ourselves to be able to live like that once we have given our lives to Christ.

We forget, or perhaps do not even know, that life in Christ is about formation. We grow in Christlikeness over time. We grow deeper into our true selves over time. 

Growth always happens by degrees. 

In what places are you growing right now? What is it like for you to focus on this “next right degree” Christ is about forming in you, rather than an ideal, fully formed image of Christlike perfection?

The True Self, the False Self, and the Reality of Self

One lone branch.

Sometimes I get tripped up when thinking about the true self and false self. Does that ever happen to you? 

It can happen like this. 

I’m aware of my true, created life in God, and when I’m living life from that place, everything within and around me becomes timeless. Everything holds a glow of beauty and perfection because God-in-everything becomes so evident in that place. Purity of heart, mind, body, and spirit abounds. 

Living in that place, I experience rest and hope and joy. I can breathe, and I can say with full conviction it is well with my soul.

But I don’t live from that posture of my true self all of my living, breathing moments. 

There’s also the false self.

This is the scrappy, stingy, worried, anxious, competitive, blaming, conniving self. It’s a distracted, consuming self. In its more tempered moments, it’s simply a shell of a real self. 

I don’t live all my living, breathing moments from this place, either. 

They’re both there.

I’m continually invited or compelled toward one or the other by forces outside myself and by habits built up within myself. On any given day, I’m an admixture of my true self and false self.

That admixture creates the reality of self. 

The reality of self is who I am in this very moment, living on this very earth, walking in this very moment deeper into my formation. 

Will I be formed more fully into my true self?

Will I be de-formed by my false self?

These are the living, breathing questions faced by the reality of self each day.

And this place of still forming — of reflecting on the reality of our formation in still moments and of acknowledging that we are forming, still, each day that we live — is one place those questions meet with our appraisal.

The True Self as Particular and Universal

Light through leaves.

I don’t know about you, but I’m finding our recent discussions about the true self so interesting and exciting. 

On our last post — which invited us to look at the moments we find ourselves restfully invigorated (if I might coin that phrase) and consider the question “What is it about that rest?” so we might gain greater insight into our true selves — a couple more thoughtful and insightful comments were left by our readers in response. 

Rebecca said: 

For me, it isn’t so much the actual activity, but Posture of my heart. For instance, I can come to the activity of bathing the children and putting them to bed with a grumbling, frustrated heart that is thinking about the DUTY and TASK ahead. When I do that, I find myself exhausted and joyless… Looking forward to just being done! But, when I come to it filled with gratitude for four healthy children, for being able stay home and care for them, with wonder at the miracle of love that I see blossoming in my very own home, the same task becomes a joyous event and I am invigorated instead of exhausted.

When I read Rebecca’s comment, the first thought I had was, “Rebecca’s true self is grateful!” It’s in a posture of gratitude that she finds that invigorated joy, which tells me that deep down, at her very core, she was made to be someone who lives in gratitude.

(Sidenote: I’ve been reading a book by Ann Voskamp called One Thousand Gifts, and it puts forth the idea that all of us find life, salvation, joy, and rest in this continual posture of gratitude. It’s a remarkable and moving book that I highly recommend, if you haven’t read it already.)

Then Leanne shared a bit more about her experience of watering the transplanted flower: 

I think for me it’s being present. Not thinking about what I’m doing next, or one step in front of the other, or thinking about what happened yesterday. Not thinking about the duty (about the guilt of not watering the rose the day before like I was supposed to), the responsibility like Rebecca said, the grumbling heart …


It’s weird but it’s being present, in the moment, and not being obsessed with myself or what others think of me. Self kinda doesn’t even come into it.

I got excited when I read Leanne’s comment because it made me think of a recent discovery I’d had about the true self, too: that the true self is un-self-conscious

I believe that in some ways, our true selves are particular — tied to the specific persons that we are, the unique personalities, talents, desires, and stations of our lives that God gave to each one of us to incarnate.

But this conversation, in which we’re beginning to reflect on the foundation of those “restfully invigorated” moments we encounter in our lives, may reveal aspects of the true self that transcend particularity. 

The true self may always be a self that is filled with gratitude. The true self may always be un-self-conscious. The true self may always be found fully immersed in the present moment.

The true self may be many things — universally, for all of us — that depend not on our specific particularities but simply on our bearing the image of God.

What do you think?

What Is It About That Rest?


Earlier this week, I suggested that our true selves bring rest into our being. Even while moving around in the world or going out and about our days, being connected to and living out of our true selves brings an invigoration and joy and peace that doesn’t include exhaustion. 

I invited you to look around your life for the places you find such rest. Where is your true self cropping up in your life?

One of the readers here, Leanne, shared the following response: 

It’s really hard to find that true rest. I like that you identify the false self being what exhausts us, but where I seem to find true rest is in fleeting moments (like this morning while I was watering the newly transplanted rose and just looking around), or when I’m on retreat at a monastery. Maybe I need to just look around more.

I love the contrast of these two moments Leanne shared with us about her places of true rest: a fleeting moment of watering a transplanted rose and the more sustained experience of going on retreat to an out-of-the-way place like a monastery. 

This comment made me want to push the conversation a little deeper with all of you. Let’s look at those places we experience rest and actually consider them.

What is it about those moments and experiences of rest that bring a connection to your true self? Why does that particular kind of moment or experience bring life and ease and even joy to your life, do you think?

Where Does Your Self Rest?

California hills rushing by.

I’m inclined to think that when we live in our true selves, we experience true rest. 

For instance, when I’m connected to my true self — living out of and aware of the self that is uniquely me — my entire being fills with rest and calm, even if I’m busy washing the dishes in the sink or picking up the mail at the post office or driving in heavy traffic. 

There is something about the true self that both enlivens and calms us, at one and the same time. 

This is a different kind of rest than the rest we gain through sleep. It is a kind of rest — a consonance of being, I suppose you could say — that we find in our living, waking hours. 

Conversely, I find that the false self exhausts us.

There’s so much self-management, self-monitoring, and worry found there. The false self exists in a constant state of self-preservation and self-promotion. We fear we will cease to matter or cease to exist if we let up our preserving and promoting. 

But the true self lives in a state of rest. A state of harmony and peace.

Here, there is no worry. Here, there is no fear of death.

Where do you find the rest of your true self in your life right now? How easy or hard is it for you to access that rest and that true self inside you? What do you need to access it more faithfully?

Maybe, Just Maybe, He Wants to Hold Our Cares for Us

Enamored with light.

It’s no secret this week has been a rough one for me. And if you read two posts I wrote in one of my other blog spaces this week, you’ll learn even more of the context for why that is

So this morning when I woke and still found myself battling “the heavies,” I sat down for a while in my small hallway — back against one wall, bare feet propped against the wall in front of me, and a heavy blue yoga mat adding cushion to my seat upon the hardwood floor. 

I sat in tucked in that little hallway space for a while, plenty far from the distractions of my computer and my cell phone, and just stared at the wall in front of me and prayed. 

Inside that prayer time, I could see Jesus and me at the beach.

We were thigh-deep in the ocean water, and we were smiling and laughing with each other. Every once in a while, I would spin myself around in the water, play-dancing with him a little bit, letting him delight in me as I delighted in the beauty and freedom of that present moment. 

There was such lightness and joy in that scene, and it seemed to be my true self at peace and at rest and so carefree in the presence of my Lord. 

And yet I sat on the floor in my hallway and told Jesus that scene just felt so far away. 

My true self was also nestled between the beadboard hallway of my house, heart-heavy and sad about the state of the world, of history, and of my own dark demons. 

The distance between here and there could not have been more poignant: one light and carefree and full of joy and laughter, the other heavy and burdened and full of sadness and grief. 

My true heart grieves. My true heart also trusts. 

The invitation from Jesus in that moment seemed to be not to carry it alone. He reminded me of this invitation: 

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” 

— Matthew 11:28-30

Maybe, just maybe, he wants to carry the truth of my grief. Maybe, just maybe, he wants to carry it while walking with me and talking with me about it. He doesn’t want to negate it is there. He doesn’t want to deny the reality of my cares. He gave me the cares that I have — he made my heart care for these things.

He simply wants to hold the weight of those cares as we walk and talk together about them.

And maybe, in the midst of all that, he also wants to let me play.

Living in the True Self

Bougainville in light.

I was in a session with my spiritual director yesterday, and we talked quite a bit about the true self — the self God created when he created us, the self into which it is his ever-continuing intention to form us throughout our lives. 

There was a moment in my time of prayer during the session when I could see three selves inside of me, two of them false and one of them true. 

The two false selves exist on the extremes of a pendulum.

On the far right is the self that wants and seeks to be super-human. This is the self that wants to create magic, to be the irreplaceable part of other people’s lives, to be the savior for another person’s quandary. It’s the self that exists under extreme pressure to live up to some ideal of perfection and shininess in order to be needed and wanted and utterly indispensable to others and to this world.

On the far left is a completely opposite self. This self exists in the shadows, behind a heavy curtain, cloaked in shame. This is the self who walks with eyes downcast, ashamed to meet other people eye to eye. It is the self who shrinks from being seen, the self who lurches into coffee shops and grocery stores and the post office and drives down the road with a sense of unworthiness and fear. It is the self who apologizes all the time for merely existing.

Neither of these selves are true.

And I’m so thankful for long-standing relationships, like the one I have with my director, Elaine, that can be a place of reminder. Because of our long-standing relationship, Elaine was able to remind me — through concrete examples — of the true self I have come to know and embody and embrace through my relationship with Christ.

This is the self who walks on the beach with Jesus regularly. It is the self who took a four-month journey through the woods with Jesus, even though I didn’t know what would transpire in those woods or what would emerge on the other side of them. It is the self who eventually came upon a village with Jesus and who sits on benches and rocks and walls and front-porch stoops with him. 

It is the self who knows Jesus and is completely free and strong and fully alive and full of joy in his presence.

There is no shame present at all in my true self, and no need at all for magic. Just being.

The true self lives in honest and glad surrender to these truths: Jesus alone is the one who holds and offers and is the magic. And with Jesus, there is no evidence or place for shame.

Have you met your true self yet? What is that self like? When do you most often inhabit and live inside your true self?

Are you familiar, as I am, with the pendulum that swings from one false self to another? What is your false self (or selves) like? What does your false self seek? How might companioning with Jesus help bring you back to center, to living in the rest and assurance and joy of the true self he created when he created you?