Monday, April 28, 2014


I have seen in myself and in other friends that what works for us spiritually during normal times of life is not the same as what works in crisis.  I´m not promoting changing gods or religion! I´m talking about our practices that give us the sense of nearness & connectedness with God.  While it seems logical that we change under stress & crisis, often we don´t realize why the same practices that have worked before don´t - and we can feel guilty & confused because of that.

In ¨normal¨ life circumstances I really enjoy reading the Scriptures, doing different studies and reflecting on them in a journal.  When I am in crisis, I find my concentration is so short that reading more than a few verses at a time is a monumental challenge!  Understanding my own physiology - that a short attention span and difficulty concentrating are common symptoms of stress - has helped me to accept my new - and temporary - reality.

The first time this happened in a major life crisis, it was very upsetting to me.  My inability to read the Scriptures with delight made me feel like a spiritual failure...I didn´t understand why what had always brought me joy & insight now made me feel frustrated & inadequate...not to mention far from God because my point of connection was not working!  It took me years to reconcile this within myself and to make healthy adjustments - and to see, to my surprise, that He blessed those adjustments!  It wasn´t the same; it was different...but it worked and I learned to experience Him in new ways in the midst of the storm.

Concentration in prayer was also a failed experience although I could still pour out all I was experiencing to Him, it seemed that prayer had become reduced to me and my crisis...the difficulty took on a protagonism that was disturbing!  When under great stress, I had little energy to cope beyond the situation at hand and to look outward to others...I felt curled up in a survival mode and unable to move out at times beyond myself.  Talk about feeling ugly & self-centered!  Again, when I could understand that physiologically, that basic need to survive is God-given, and the preservation of energy for the battle at hand is a coping mechanism,  then I could accept the changes that were occurring.  It helped to remind myself often that this was temporary.

What I am NOT saying with all of this is that crisis gives us license to leave the Scriptures behind or to ignore others.  What I AM saying is that making adjustments during crisis is necessary, healthy,  encouraged and blessed by God.  There is freedom, people!  We are not limited or trapped by what is usual, normal, acceptable, practiced by ¨everyone else¨.  God is bound by no one nor any practice.  We can be pretty sure that He is the One most open to creative approaches to being connected with Him.

Over the years I have experimented with having ¨quiet times¨ with God in shorter intervals throughout the day instead of in one large block of time, pray while walking or read right after exercising when my mind is clearest (sometimes that´s the only time its clear all day!)  I have released myself from big commitments to Bible studies and have taken to meditating on a few verses at a time, imagining myself in a Bible story and experiencing Christ there, writing out my thoughts & prayers - especially my own laments - and listening to music to drown out anxious or negative thoughts.  Enjoying art & nature in fresh ways have also successfully taken me to His presence. Sometimes having others pray for me when I lacked words & strength was the only way I could pray.  Pursuing new methods has opened my heart up in new ways and deepened my experience of Him in ways I never dreamed.

Are you facing a trial that has you drowning in your own attempts to find Him in it?  If something isn´t working right now, it does not mean that you are a failure or that it may not work again for you in the future.  Why not invite Him to Shepherd you through this valley in new ways?  Determine to be open to finding some new avenues of communion with the One who is always there.  Find what does work!  You will be surprised to discover new facets of your relationship with will be blessed to experience Him in new ways in some of your darkest will realize anew that He is so deep, so vast, that we could experiment for all of eternity with different ways of knowing Him and never know it all!  He is limitless.  Why do we limit the ways we use to feel close to Him?

Photo by:  ihu03141

1 comment:

  1. I have found praise music (currently WorshipMob videos) to be my starting point during hard times when I can sit and just stand before Him in that place.

    There was certainly a time when my scripture reading was limited to Job, Ecclesiastes, and Psalms as well. Everything else seemed like pretending.