Confession time! This has been a rough week for me and honestly I can’t exactly say why I have been feeling unsettled, anxious and discombobulated. Yes that is a word. Even the guy in Starbucks noticed that I did not respond to his, “how are you” greeting with, “Pretty darn good!” So during my devotion time, I grabbed my journal and worked on the question: “What’s going on Denise?” Do you ever have days like that when you can’t quite figure out why you are struggling for no particular reason? I tend to call these times wilderness wanderings because some days it feels like I have lost my way and need time to regroup. That is one of the reasons why I journal. When I write out my feelings in black and white, it is easier to identify what is going, and how to adjust and realign my thinking for a healthier attitude. One of the best ways for me to readjust my attitude is to open a well-known book, the Bible.
While writing in my journal, I was reminded that we can get bogged down with life’s struggles, or frustrations and I lose track of God’s presence. My whole life I have known and believed that I am part of God’s family, however there are times when I take that belief for granted. Because of my life-long faith journey it is easy to shift into autopilot with God. Yes I have faith and go through all of the motions like, attending church, praying, doing Bible study and yet feel disconnected in our relationship. When I don’t nurture a real relationship with God, life can be filled with anxiety, restlessness and doubt. It’s like any family relationship; despite the arguing or teasing between members, they are still family and we are loved and accepted by them. A healthy relationship with God can mirror the same familial experience so that when we have doubts, fears, and disbelief, we can be confident that as family, God still loves us and remains near. As a chaplain in a hospital, part of my job was to pray with people undergoing surgery or medical procedures. After each prayer, I encouraged them to take a deep breath and lift their hand to their nose to feel the air expressed on their hands. This was not so much to get them to relax, as it was to give them a tangible feeling of God’s presence. This idea comes from the Bible’s creation story; God’s Spirit hovered over the chaos. In the Hebrew language, the word for God’s Spirit or Wind is “Ruach.” This same term is used when God breathes into the first humans as well as when Jesus breathed His Spirit over the disciples as he prepared to leave them. I believe it is that same breath or Spirit that resides within us. When I shared this with the patients especially when they were feeling very vulnerable, they too were comforted knowing that God was a close as their breath.
For one of my devotions this week, I read from Ephesians 1:13-14, which says, “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.” The words of Ephesians reminds me that by faith I have been marked by the seal of the Holy Spirit and that I have been included in the family inheritance. And yet, even with this promise of God’s nearness, we still have off days. Our spirits are inundated with broken relationships, hurts, bad habits, death, and unhappiness. It can feel like we lose our way in hopeless negative feelings and lose sight of what gives us joy. When we focus on our anxieties we can miss the sun that shines, the water that glistens, and flowers that bloom in a plethora of color, the joy of a really good cup of coffee, and the delight in a child’s laughter. Even though some days are a struggle, I don’t have to doubt God’s presence. So today I leave the restless spirit behind and hang on to the promise that I bear the seal of the Holy Spirit and as a member of the holy family, I am loved.