Lately I've been reading an amazing book called "Present over Perfect" by Shauna Niequisi. I highly recommend this book to anyone who struggles with business, depression, wondering what your life purpose is, or feeling overwhelmed by life's demands. This book has blessed me so much as I have flown here to Kenya and I feel like I have begun a new journey back to peacefulness from within.
In 1 Thessalonians 4:7 the Word of God says "God hasn't invited us into a disorderly, unkept life but into something holy and beautiful- as beautiful on the inside as the outside." (Message)
I love this verse so much- focused on beautifying and changing our hearts and minds-- because I believe that too often as good Christians, we focus on becoming good actors.
We become performers in a play instead of choosing presence over pretending to be perfect.
We work on beautifying our outsides and making ourselves looks good and holy- instead of changing our thoughts and surrendering our minds to God. We understand the right things to do and say. But so often our souls are hurting, and we don't know how to heal them.
As believers, especially Seventh Day Adventists, we too often fall captive to the lie that we have to do everything right, always wearing the right clothes and dress in order to be accepted.
We begin to strive so hard for these things- trying to be perfect- but forgetting that we are fully accepted and loved exactly the way we are.
Slowly we begin to hide our real selves to the world and each other, forgetting that God ask us to share our burdens and struggles, so we can lift each other up. We pretend we are thriving- when we are really hurting- because we are too embarrassed to tell the truth.
Our lives may look beautiful- they may look good, clean, and pure- but so often we have inward secret battles that we are fighting all alone. Inwardly, we may feel busy, overwhelmed, empty, or even spiritually and emotionally dry.
So how do we change? How do we focus on healing our souls once again? How do we come back to the heart of God which is love and authenticity and community?
I want to tell you about a conversation I had with one of my best friends about 4 months ago.
It was evening time and we were talking about the purpose of life.
She said: "Everyone thinks I'm so nice, but I'm not. I'm just pretending. And I'm pretending that everything is ok, when inwardly I'm hurting. And I'm depressed. I'm not dangerous- like going to commit suicide depressed, but I'm not happy. I don't know what my purpose is.
The weight of living day by day is wearing out my soul."
And I totally understood what she said, because I felt some of the same feelings. Externally, it looked like my life was going great. I had a stable job, good friends, a church to attend, but my job was draining out the passion and joy from my life. It was taking away my excitement, numbing my emotions, making me depressed.
"What can we do to change?" I asked her. "What would get us out of this hole and help us feel excited about life again?"
Of course, both answers were different. But we both decided, we had to go on a journey. More than a place, we had to experience a significant change and then we had to intentionally change some thoughts of our hearts and some habits in our lives.
Shauna writes in her book, "Stop. Right now. Remake your life from the inside out."
And what she really means is "Stop being busy! Stop going, really stop!"
If you don't like who you are as a person, or where you are going, or how you are feeling. You first have to pause. The Bible says that we find God best in the stillness, best in the quietness. We have to pause the business as a first step. And then we have to choose to be willing to change.
Are we willing to reconnect with God again maybe in a different way?
Are we willing to surrender some of our bad habits or maybe our comforts to meet a God of mercy and love and grace?
Are we ready to start a new journey that is about going back to the heart of God and learning what it means to be loved by HIm in a way that reorders everything in our lives. A journey where we will rest, breathe, and re connect to people around us. A journey where we welcome our vulnerable and authentic self back into the picture, and we choose to take off the masks and build authentic community with the people around us? A journey where we throw away the weight of comparison, exhaustion, and competition and we go back to the stillness, the meanings, the connections love builds?
The first step I believe is to realize that we're not content where we are. We have to acknowledge that we need change, we need a new journey, a new focus. The second step is to ask Jesus to help us break out our common steps and path- so that we can go to a place where we can see Him closer, where we can experience quietness and peace. Then as we begin the journey, we have to be humble, we have to be quiet, we have to be ready to silence the outside noise and listen to God again, giving ourselves grace as we change slowly.
I'd love to hear from you: how do you quiet your soul to help yourself stay focused and authentic in a busy world full of expectations? Have you ever read Present from Perfect? Are there any books you recommend that have helped your spiritual journey?