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 need someone. I need to hold somebody close. And I need more than this holding." Betty Smith, a Tree Grows in Brooklyn
Quiet isn't the absence of noise or voice. Quiet is a quality of putting everything to the side that isn't important, but demands you to perform. To produce and please. Instead of being you. You experience quiet in your soul -- when you give yourself permission -- to be you. Quiet is an intimate movement to be at rest. To listen. To receive. To enjoy. To lay aside everything that is distracting you from being God's beloved.
Quiet is an experience -- of enjoying something that may be filled with sound -- like hearing a bird sing, as you walk on a dirt path, the sound of your pen writing across the page, listening to your friend chat at the table with your hands around a cup of hot tea, the crunch of a crisp salad as you eat lunch outside, driving with the music turned off, as you look into the landscape, arranging some fresh flowers, as your favorite music streams into the air, feeling the pages turn in your hand, sitting in the sunlight to read, hearing water move as you settle into a steaming bath.
We discover quiet moments present itself to us when we accept that we are in progress and incomplete. When we are no longer striving -- and desperate -- to change our stories right now -- we are able to recognize moments to nurture our soul. We release ourselves to find beauty -- and take time to enjoy it -- because we have accepted -- and embrace that we are in fact on a journey, and not a test, a project, or a race. We need quiet, the way a flower needs sunlight to bloom. And I guess that's why quiet is hard too. How willing are we to see ourselves as quiet blossoms of beauty? That's how Jesus sees us.
Jesus took time for quiet. And Jesus encouraged his closest friends to do the same --
Jesus said to his disciples -- "Let's go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile." Mark 6:31 Jesus left crowds, even though more work could have been done -- "Leaving the crowd behind, [the disciples] took him along, just as he was, in the boat." Mark 4:36
You know that moment, before you close your eyes and feel the touch of lips brush against yours for a kiss with a man who takes your breath away? There is quiet. Before the horse hairs on a violin bow touches the string in a quartet and music fills the space -- there is quiet. Before the morning casts its first light against the floor of your kitchen, flowers bloom and awake in quietness. Our relationship with Jesus longs for quiet, the way a flower needs sunlight to blossom.
Here below is an excerpt from my book Finding Spiritual Whitespace about nurturing quiet and rest.
"Whitespace in design identifies importance. Depending where whitespace is placed – in web design or an advertisement – it brings what’s important to our attention, allowing the rest to fade into the sidelines.
Whitespace acts like a spotlight, bringing an intimacy and immediacy to the page – awakening the foreground and quieting the background.
When we enter into the whitespace of quiet, we feel the same awakening with God.
Quiet signifies intimate confidence in your importance to Jesus."
Let Jesus get close to you – choose a moment of quiet today. No matter how brief. Return to being God's beloved. And you'll be renewed to naturally love those in your life. But, you have to be the one to take time. You have to choose spend time in the spotlight of Gods' love.
You May Need To
You may need to --
quit something - to begin your journey as God's beloved.
walk away from something - to walk closer to God.
let go of your own expectations - to be a perfect mom, housewife, career woman, friend, worker, minister, writer, artist...whatever it is that's pulling you away from quiet.
let go of perfect. So you can be loved instead.
disappoint others who have expectations on you - to prioritize your well-being.
There may be big life changes. Or small ones. You may have to --
- change jobs, have a hard conversation that ends up messy or allow things to be broken (for now, so the healthy boundaries or healing can happen for you).
- hire a babysitter, pay for housecleaning once or twice a month, ask for help, tell someone you can't go, do, or fulfill a commitment you made earlier.
- lower your standards, give yourself grace, speak up for yourself, apologize, be kind instead of strong.
You are doing this for a season, to create space -- spiritual whitespace -- to renew the parts of you that God longs to refresh. Are you afraid? That is okay. Because Jesus loves you. He is with you. He will help you.
""Come away with me by yourselves to a quiet place and rest a while." Mark 6:31
** Who can you share today's encouragement with?**
Choose a quiet moment over busyness or getting something done. This is often a small moment. That only you know.
Enjoy something quiet with someone you love. This principle of quiet applies to the relationships that are important to us.
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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