I haven’t done much in the way of self-care this semester. My days are filled with teaching, managing, and serving while my evenings filled with practices, games, and meetings with a date night thrown in here or there. My personal rhythms for my soul and body haven’t kept pace with what my schedule says is the next thing to do.
Somehow by canceling two different meetings and arranging rides, I was able to get to Holy Yoga this week. Sometimes getting what you need takes a lot of work, communication, and the help of others. I came to my yoga mat feeling worn and frayed. I prayed before I walked in, “Jesus, would you meet me on my mat?”
I felt relieved when the instructor (that word doesn’t describe her though…she is more a kind + bold guide for body + soul) said that the evening would be a slower flow than usual. Gentler. I sighed a deep prayer of thanks. After some beginning stretches, she read from the end 1 Peter 2 in The Message:
He used his servant body to carry our sins to the Cross so we could be rid of sin, free to live the right way. His wounds became your healing. You were lost sheep with no idea who you were or where you were going. Now you’re named and kept for good by the Shepherd of your souls.
As we breathed and moved our bodies, Jesus kept whispering, “Aimee, you have been the shepherd of your own soul. This is an invitation to let me shepherd you, your mind, your emotions, your desires, your tender places. I shepherd and delight in those soul places in you. You have no idea who I know you as and where I want you to go. Let me call you Beloved, keep you close, and tend you well.”
As these verses were repeatedly read, my heart was kindled and vulnerable. By the time we reached the end when we lie on our mats under a blanket in silence for about fifteen minutes, I had a steady stream of tears leaking down the sides of my face. I hadn’t felt that near and seen by Jesus in so long. It was as if He were sitting cross-legged near me saying the Truth about Himself and about me. The Good News is that Jesus doesn’t only care about what we do, where we go, and how we obey in this world, but He wants to tend our souls, the hidden places of ourselves, as a Kind Shepherd tends vulnerable, confused sheep.
His wounds became our healing. Our wounded Savior wants to come alongside each one of us and heal, ridding us of stubborn sin and setting us free, naming us and keeping us for good. If there is one thing I am learning this Fall, it’s that intimacy with Him can happen in the busiest of seasons as we make space to be open to Him as we sit and as we rise, as we go out and as we lie down.
I don’t have hours of solitude, quiet, or time alone. I have minutes as I drive, as I wash dishes, as I shower, as I wait at a practice. I have stopped using these times to get on my phone and have begun using these small moments to choose openness, listening, being. I have stopped bringing an agenda or ideal of what spending time with God looks like, and instead, I am wasting time with Him. I am learning to be a daughter, a friend, a companion of Christ. It is simple but not easy. I can’t see any “growth” or “fruit” or measurable outcomes that my production-oriented self craves. My soul simply is becoming quieter, less scared, more peaceful, more at ease with Presence than Quiet Time Production.
As we walk deeper into October, may we recognize that all of our crazy thoughts, mixed-up feelings, and the creative ideas of our souls have a Shepherd that wants to tend them. He’s as close as our breath, as near as anyone can be. His Spirit has made a home within us, has tender access to it all, and promises to keep our souls for good. Amen.