What is God speaking to your heart in this season?
“Maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming anything. Maybe it’s about un-becoming everything that isn’t really you, so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place.” -Paulo Coelho
I heard that quote and thought, “That is exactly what God is doing in me.” Recently I've realized how much of my life I spent trying to become someone else. So un-becoming is a pretty pivotal word for me.
For the life that I’ve led, it’s really nice to have a gentle love pursue me; to have someone to reveal love to me in a quiet way. God just goes about his work and lets me see it when I'm ready, when the eyes of my heart are open to see it. He’s such a gracious father in that way. I always thought that transformation meant becoming something or someone different. But for me, it has been more about him removing all false identities. I am un-becoming in order to become the person I really am, and I can’t tell you how grateful I am for that. I truly don’t think I’ve ever been happier! I’m in a place of peace and contentment, just being Barb.
God has helped me see all of the old false identities that I carried. Living with those is like travelling with heavy luggage: everything’s heavy and you get tired. When you remove that luggage, everything becomes so much lighter. It feels so good.
Even if you take the heart attack [I experienced] out of it, my heart is just different now. When I first came to faith I remember someone telling me, “You’ve built a fortress around your heart.” And now it's just wide open. It’s just the best thing that’s ever happened to me! Rest has been a huge part of that.
Truthfully, I love this season of stillness. Covid hasn’t really been too difficult for me. It’s afforded me more time with him and way more intimacy. My life looks a lot more like staying in my PJ’s until 11 am because I'm just loving time with him. I’m totally fine with that, and in the past I wouldn’t have been! I was always very driven by routine: get up, get showered, get dressed, and get on with your day… in order to do the most. Now, I’m wondering if I even bother with ‘To-Do’ lists anymore? I don’t know.
How do you connect with him?
When I first came to faith, I had no idea how to connect with God (to be honest). I thought the only way to connect was to audibly hear his voice. But, God works in me in very gentle nudging ways. I don’t get those ‘lightning and thunder’ booming voices. Generally, I see a shift or transformation in my life, and I just know that he’s at work. So it’s just been this slow movement of discovering who he is in me.
Some people say they hear him audibly all the time. I don’t, and that's ok! When I don’t hear him, I sense that we’re still working on surrender and trust. To me, I just know he is there. That’s usually the biggest thing people tend to do, when they find out I’m really new to faith, they ask a lot of questions. I think they feel safe. I might not have any answers; I’m a newborn in all of this! But it’s comforting to others when I say, “Just stay with it. You’ll start noticing things you never did before and questioning other things. You'll realize you were giving yourself way too much credit for things. All that wisdom that I thought was me, for instance, it’s him.”****
Where has he brought the most freedom in your life?
I feel a lot of freedom! Part of that is in the way I connect to him and hear from him. I no longer fear going in the ‘wrong direction.’ If I am, I know he’ll pull me back in and redirect. As I become who I’m really meant to be, that’s where the freedom has come. I’m not striving, he's just making me who I was supposed to be all along. And so there is freedom and acceptance in just being Barb.
The other thing I’ve learned is that we are far too serious in all this journey-ing with God. He is actually really fun! We are meant to have joy! I think it’s meant to be fun, journeying with the Father. I’ve watched as he introduces joy into people’s lives; I see that joy and freedom come together.
Think of it this way: would I want my kids to be serious all the time? Of course not! I want my kids free, full of life, and full of joy. He wouldn't want it to be any different than that. Sometimes I walk into a church and think, “Does anybody have a good joke to tell?” This doesn't have to be heavy! When we laugh, he laughs with us.
What has he shown you during quarantine?
Stillness is probably the main thing he has revealed to me; it’s an absolute must in our relationship. I need to be still to commune with him. It’s a daily practice, but it’s one that I enjoy. I've talked to and encouraged so many people in Covid who are experiencing difficulties in all this. (Not to say I haven’t had my moments of loneliness, or a longing for normalcy). But it doesn't happen all that much, because I find in stillness he fills me up.
I have met a few people who assume that being alone at this time must be so tough for me. And all I can say is, “I hope you believe me when I say it's not.” Yes, of course I’ve had moments of loneliness. But I had moments of loneliness when I was married with two kids and a dog in the house! His ever-growing presence in me is transforming me. When I am alone, it's good for me. It’s good for my relationship with him.
Any advice to those struggling in the Pandemic?
The first thing I always ask anyone struggling during Covid is, “How are you sleeping?” If there's any anxiety, I would say: “Rest first. Look after yourself. Don’t try to strive, don’t add to your anxiety. Don’t make it worse.” Then, I would sit down with someone who will walk with you through it, who will give you encouragement and wisdom.
I think many of us struggle with the idea of finding God from a place of rest. It always comes back to our earthly tendencies: we want to be doing something. But if you can just relinquish it and let him do the work- with an open sincere heart – he will answer your cries.
Mostly, my advice is to just stop. Don’t strive. Just sleep and rest. Rest is the number one thing we can do for ourselves and for a healthy body. If we do our part in looking after our body, it helps heal our relationship with God. Taking good care of our bodies is biblical, and it makes total sense, but it's counterintuitive for the world we live in.
My other advice would be to increase your focus on him. Try to focus your eyes on him. Get up in the morning and say, “Thank you Father.” Wayne Jacobsen has a very simple prayer that I recommend. He says, “If you are the God I think you are– who loves me– I need you to reveal who you are in my life.”
I think that’s a pretty good prayer, it simply causes you to humble yourself and be honest with him. He's so faithful. He hears when we cry out. So cry out to him! Be honest. Commune with him like you would with a dear friend. Take religion out of it! If you are frustrated or struggling to find him, my best advice is to relinquish it all. Let him do the work.
What do you sense that God is doing in our midst?
There’s a lot of talk [about Covid] from a very human perspective, but Father has been speaking to me from a creation perspective. We **can’t travel right now; we can’t get out and see all the things we want to see. I think that’s given us a deeper appreciation for all of his creation.
Everywhere I look I see healing; this time is good in so many ways. You can see air quality improving and nature being restored. That’s got God’s hands all over it, and it makes me feel like I’m part of it! If I’m looking for restoration in my own life, I know it’s going to happen because I see it in nature! He’s working on all of us, and we just get to rest as he does.
He is putting all of His creation into a deep rest right now. On my walks I see more animals out and about; I see more balance in this world! It’s not just a human-led world that we live in, and that has caused me to stop and think. In life, we need to stop and consider more than just ourselves. We always think and speak from a human perspective, but what in creation is improving in this time?