MOVING FORWARD IN FAITH #1
(NURTURING OUR SOULS)
Each new year, I choose a word to serve as a guiding theme for the way I hope to live, notice, and direct my days. My word for 2021 is nurture. Initially I liked the way nurture can mean fostering our development, such as nurturing my mind or nurturing my writing skills. But perhaps because of these trying times, my body and soul have also longed to be nurtured – to be comforted, to nestle into God, to tend my health, to nourish my faith, and to help others do the same. Nurture has already served me well as a centering guide for these first weeks of the year.
As we seek to move forward in faith through some very trying times, we would be wise to first take a step back, to withdraw for quiet moments and nurture our spirits. When our world is unsettled and anxious, we can feel compelled to watch more of the news updates, to look at Facebook or Twitter for our friends’ responses (or post one of our own), or to lament and worry in our conversations with others. The problems are so distressing that we seem unable to take our focus away from them. At the end of the day, we then find that we have spent the entire day fretting or feeding our fears.
Nurture has reminded me to designate time in my day to refresh my spirit, to take a break from the ever available news or social media outlets. I am not disregarding the troubles we face, but taking a moment to replenish. I pull myself away from the mire and mess, to breathe, to pray, to clear my head, and to notice the blessings that are still all around. This quiet space helps me to consider concerns and troubles from a new, distanced, more appropriate perspective – as if I am observing them while being held by God. This space also helps me to refrain from responding in hurtful or hateful ways to the news or posts that upset me.
Some helpful practices I have found…
We can assign certain times of the day for Facebook, social media, or news, and save the other precious hours to be more present to life. It is important for us to be informed, but we do not need to be inundated. In the morning, I avoid these outside distractions until after I have journal time with God; in the evening, I step away from them and read or journal before going to bed. I try to be mindful of the precious times with loved ones, the daily sacraments of meals, or the blessings of walking outdoors, and I set aside social media or news updates so that I may be more present to the moment.
I have also changed my journal practice; I now summarize my day before going to sleep at night. This serves to close out the day, so that I might sleep better and begin anew in the morning. Then my morning journal becomes simply time with God, and I find that my thoughts are purer, less influenced by yesterday’s events. By putting yesterday in its place, I can bring a fresh, clean day to God as I listen and reflect.
We can do internet searches for Bible verses that help our specific needs. Reading them provides comfort and nourishes my soul. When we long to take a step back from our cares, we can look up Bible verses about rest, comfort, or trust. Here are some for us today…
Matthew 11:28 (NRSV)
“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
1 Corinthians 1:3-5 (NRSV)
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are abundant for us, so also our consolation is abundant through Christ.
Isaiah 26:3-4 (NRSV)
Those of steadfast mind you keep in peace—
in peace because they trust in you.
Trust in the Lord forever,
for in the Lord God
you have an everlasting rock.
Nurturing our spirits with these sacred spaces is not to escape our trials but to help us address them. We cannot serve others well, we cannot make a good difference in the world, if we are not nurtured and nourished ourselves. By taking a step back from our troubles and drawing closer to God, we can look at our problems with new and hopeful perspectives. By opening ourselves through time with God, we help enable God to work for good, in us and through us. By placing our burdens into God’s perfecting hands, we can serve more freely, and maybe even joyfully.
As you move forward in faith through these trying times, how might you take a step back to nurture your soul today?
Bible verses taken from BibleGateway.com: A searchable online Bible in over 150 versions and 50 languages.