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.
I have been hungry for a long time.
I've longed for the cool mist of light spring rain, but I've been wandering in the desert.
The desert of my soul.
I haven't forgotten the memories of my youth, where the sun kissed summer into my hair as I lay lazy on the quiet river of yesteryears. But I've wondered, could the girl with stars in her eyes ever come back to me?
Because that little girl grew up. She discovered with each loss she sustained, she felt stronger when she didn't look up at the stars. She laid awake in her bed instead many nights, unable to sleep, trying to soothe her heart by hiding her dreams and covering her need. She was doing it all, yet something inside felt unsettled.
But she never said anything. She wouldn't want anyone to misunderstand and think she was ungrateful.
She didn't want to need comfort. Because maybe doing so would make her want it more and well, that would make life more complicated. She would have to make hard changes that would leave too many broken pieces in her story.
And she didn't want that.
She wanted to fit in with all the happy, unbroken people in the world.
The truth is she didn’t believe God could use anything she thought was weak. Or broken.
The truth is I didn’t believe God could shine his light through me weak and broken. Because if I really did believe such a thing, I’d have to speak in my broken and weak voice.
And I definitely did not want that.
A Piece of Herself
The little girl in me didn't know it, but every moment she stopped risking and chose safety instead, she quietly lost a piece of herself.
Every time she swept away the tears from her voice, she seemed to speak more boldly.
But the truth is, the intimacy she once nurtured with God flickered into a dimming memory.
She knew Jesus loved her -- but she forgot what it felt like to be loved. As is.
Her heart was tender toward others -- but she forgot what the tenderness of God felt like against the skin of her soul.
She lost her spark.
The little girl in me tried to recapture that spark by working harder, smarter, becoming better at doing life. She tried to recapture it by being happy for others.
She became an expert at spectating life, rather than experiencing it fresh for herself. And she felt selfish and guilty whenever she longed to sparkle again.
She didn't understand those criticizing voices were lies from the past, who taught her that becoming beloved was only a truth to accept instead of an experience to boldly and wildly receive.
God loved me too much to allow me to hide my heart anymore. He brought me into a deeper journey of intimacy with Him. God re-awakened my soul to rest by letting it feel the pain of loss again. So I can recover the memories of my past and re-write them. And each time I did, the little girl began breaking through.
I've been coming back alive, with each memory lighting up the darkness of pain.
Sometimes it takes more faith to fall apart with Jesus than to pray for faith to keep it from happening.
As I followed God on this new journey of soul rest, I heard the most beautiful, intimate whispers from God. And I began to remember what it felt like to sparkle.
I will be enough for you, Bonnie.
When your hands have finally let go of all your strength and you are only left with empty hands ...
When you finally accept that you cannot carry the burdens you were never intended to carry ...
When you finally collapse at the weight of denying your story ...
You will find that as you fall, fall, and then fall -- you'll find that I will carry you. (Is.46:4)
And like the stars that shine across the void of darkness, because I chose to light them thousands of years ago, so you could see them sparkle today -- all those thousands of deaths your heart sustained on this journey will only show how great my love for you has been, is and will be.
Your mother and father may forsake you, but I will never leave you. (Ps. 27:10)
And in those moments of greatest darkness, I will love you with an everlasting love. Again and again. (Jer. 31:3)
You will no longer be called forsaken or desolate. You will be called my delight. (Is.62:4)
You will be renamed and remade by my love. (Rev. 2:17)
You will sparkle like a diamond in the sky.
When I think of these tender, beautiful words Jesus is whispering to me on this journey of rest, they are too beautiful to keep to myself.
I picture Jesus’ hand. How He reaches out to me. And you.
In our broken memories. In the battlefield of our stories.
So even though the scariest thing for me is to be weak and uncertain, I know that is where Jesus is most intimately near.
If you wonder if you could ever find your spark again — remember this:
What God wants is for you to be known. To be loved. To find rest.
The way to find rest may not be the way you have imagined it. But, when you dare to be known, you are resting in the arms of Jesus.
And it’s there, resting, that you'll see the stars fall down on you.
God's love will rain on you like stardust as you look up at the sky again.
He will carry you, even as your arms hold no strength from all your weariness.
Let God love you.
Give yourself permission to rest.
Through telling your story, you will give others permission to be known and loved too. They will find space to rest. Go where Jesus leads you, even if you feel no one else will find any worth in what you have to offer.
Remember, God's power is made perfect when we are not enough -- when we become the Beloved.
"Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one
and calls forth each of them by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
not one of them is missing.”
~ Isaiah 40:26
Are you longing to sparkle again?
Whisper a prayer and confide in your story. Let your light shine bright. As is.
Pull up a chair. Share a comment. This is a quiet space for you and me.
For inspiration to sparkle again with intimacy with God, order a copy of Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul To Rest, which has garnered starred review praise from Publisher’s Weekly, listing Bonnie Gray as one of the Top 6 notable new religion authors. This memoir-driven guidebook for rest is for anyone longing to create space to draw closer to God, for themselves, for rest. Learn how a life-long dream unexpectedly launched Bonnie into a debilitating anxiety and painful childhood memoires to discover a better story of rest. Visit TheBonnieGray.com to learn more.
"Whitespace is soul grace. Bonnie Gray ushers weary women into the real possibility." - Ann Voskamp, NY Times bestsellng author of One Thousand Gifts
"If you want to hear Jesus speak more tenderly to your soul than ever befrore, this is the book for you." - Lysa TerKeurst, NY Times bestselling author of Unglued
"We live in a culture that brags and boasts about being busy. Into that reality steps Bonnie with a new idea.
Whitespace is an important concept and Bonnie has captured it perfectly. -Jon Acuff,NY Times bestselling author of Start!
Bonnie Gray is the soulful writer behind FaithBarista.com serving up shots of faith for the daily grind. She is a contributor at DaySpring (in)courage, her work spotighted by Christianity Today and nationally syndicated through McClatchy-Tribune News Services. After graduating from UCLA, Bonnie served as a missionary, ministry entrepreneur, and Silicon Valley high-tech professional. She lives in Northern California with her husband, Eric, and their two sons.
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