Bonnie Gray is the soulful author of Whispers of Rest and Finding Spiritual Whitespace. An inspirational speaker and retreat leader, she has touched thousands of lives through storytelling, visual arts, nature, prayer and meditation. Bonnie’s writing is featured on Relevant Magazine, DaySpring (in)courage, and Christianity Today. She lives in California with her husband and their two sons. Visit Bonnie at www.thebonniegray.com and connect with her @thebonniegray on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.
"real freedom is freedom from the opinion of others. above all, freedom from your own opinions about yourself." brennan manning
Every day I wrote Finding Spiritual Whitespace, the critical voice in me would say, "Who do you think you are? You think someone wants to read this? Don't waste your time."
Maybe you hear similar voices about your own art or about spending time or attention on something you enjoy -- a seed that's planted in you.
You keep checking the soil of your heart, doubting it, thinking it fell there by accident. But it's still lying quiet there, waiting for you to breathe and water it with your care and your hands.
Many times, feelings of guilt weigh us down the minute we begin to feel inspired.
It's like an automatic response when I want to share something free from my heart -- or when I feel drawn to do something I feel I'd enjoy. I begin to guilty for not doing something earlier -- for something I did, didn't do or did wrong.
I beat myself up. I replay my mistakes. I waste enormous amounts of energy re-enacting how I could have done it differently.
I feel bad. I feel that I am bad.
We are afraid to fully lean into that feeling of rest. And joy. Or peace. We might not think we deserve rest or special attention. We might not think we've earned it. We may be afraid to give time and attention to nurture our passion.
Are we really worth it? we ask silently. In the heart of every woman, God whispers --
Yes. You are worth it. You are my beloved.
You are mine.
Why It's Hard To Let Go of Guilt
One of the reasons it's hard to let go of our guilty feelings is that it feels safe. No one can hurt us if we don't do anything. We can't be rejected, if we never attempt to blossom.
We won't have regrets, we tell ourselves. But, the longing God placed in us doesn't go away.
Every woman longs to dream, to feed her soul and rest. Everyone longs to move beyond coping and surviving. Every woman longs to be loved.
4 Ways To Give Yourself the Grace to Rest
As God's beloved, let's keep awakening to God's whispers of rest. Rather than driving ourselves into the ground by guilty feelings, let's see what happens when we give ourselves permission grace to rest.
Let grace in, instead of allowing guilt to hold you heart back.
Next time those critical voices start whispering, imagine Jesus standing next to you, taking your hand gently into His.
1. Confide in Him. Then listen. What is He guiding you towards -- away from?
"It's God's kindness that leads to repentence" Romans 2:4
What words of kindness does He want to say to you today?
2. Give attention to what refreshes your soul with God.
"I will send the Helper to you... When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth." John 16:7-17
Make changes God wants you to enjoy now with Him. Today.
3. Take the journey to discover who you are with God, rather than acceptance of others.
"It is for freedom that Christ set us free. Therefore.. do not be subject again to the yoke of slavery." Gal. 1:1, 16-18
Live as beloved through your Heavenly Father's eyes.
4. Make time to pursue what touches you heart.
"...the Holy Spirit helps our weaknesss.. the Spirit Himself interceeds for us with groanings too deep for words. " Rom.8:16, 26, 27
Stop thinking about grace and let grace be a heartfelt, confident prayer to be the bold, beloved version of you.
Start responding to God's love -- instead of other's expectations of what is beautiful or good enough.
Don't wait to be you with God. Not tomorrow when we're more qualified. Not later, when we're no longer struggling. Don't wait until you're no longer broken.
Open your heart and step out now. As is.
Grace means we no longer are trying to make up for our weaknesses. Grace means giving ourselves permission to express God's beauty and rest -- in you and me.
The seed in you isn't there by accident. You were made to bring beautiful things into this world. Just like the One who calls you beloved - the Creator - who placed it there.
Your voice, your art, matters to Him. Don't wait until the critical voices die down. Do your art. now. as is.
Last year, when UPS first dropped off the first books on my doorstep, I jumped in my car & drove to the hiking trail to take a picture to share the moment with you. I was so excited I forgot to change into my jeans and trail shoes!
So I hiked this way into the mountains. Then the critical voice said,"That's dumb." So I ended up putting this photo away.
See how the enemy of our hearts steals our joy?
Don't wait like me. Dare to be you. With God.
Be the Beloved.
For more encouragement and words of rest for your soul, read Bonnie’s book Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Rest, which garnered starred review praise from Publisher’s Weekly.
Bonnie Gray blogs at Faith Barista, serving up shots of faith in the daily grind. She has been named Top 6 Notable New Religion Authors by Publisher's Weekly and writes for DaySpring (in)courage, Revelant Magazine, spotlighted by Christianity Today and Catalyst Leadership. A UCLA graduate, Bonnie served as a missionary, ministry entrepreneur, and Silicon Valley high-tech professional. She lives in California with her husband, Eric, and their two sons.
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