Spiritual Practice: Take Naps and Eat Snacks

I’ve been spending some time in 1 Kings chapter 19. Elijah was a Jewish prophet who had just gone head-to-head with the prophets of Baal and won. Well, God won to be exact. But then Jezebel threatened his life, and he took off for the wilderness, depressed and exhausted.

He sat down under a brush tree and basically said, “I’m done, God. I might as well die now.”

Have you ever been that exhausted? That discouraged or depressed? I have.

But what is interesting is what happens next. There is no rebuke from God for Elijah’s feelings or his whiny, woe-is-me attitude. This makes me happy because I can get very whiny and woey. But God sends an angel with snacks and lets him take a nap, TWICE!

Here’s the thing. Many of my friends and readers are exhausted. It has been a rough three years. Many have been spending themselves on behalf of the poor, their students, their employees, bosses, or family members. They are done-in! We are done-in.

So, what do we do? First, apparently, we are allowed to throw a pity party. Go ahead, invite your friends, they’re all feeling the same way. Then, eat some snacks and take a few naps. This is a very important thing to do before we move on to the next step. In fact, I want you to stop reading right now if you need a snack or a nap. Go on. Get what you need, I’ll wait.

Once you’re rested and nourished – this could take months or even the whole year, because we need it – then read the rest of chapter 19.

Elijah went into a cave and found out God was not in the drama (wind, earthquake, fire). God was not in the political drama, not in the social media drama, not in the family drama…God spoke to Elijah in a still, small voice.

Sometimes, we need to get away from the noise to hear that voice. Turn off the news, and the phone, and take a break from the people in your life that cause drama. Sit. Wait. Listen. Reflect. Redirect. Then move forward from that place.

Elijah was given new marching orders, which included anointing someone to take his place. Those of us who are older might need to think about this. How can we pass on what we know? How can we bless the next generation? Let’s look for ways to do that. But don’t be in a hurry, take your time. You might need a snack or a nap first. Or two.

Let me know how you are dealing with this difficult time. Let’s hold each other up until we get strong enough to stand again.


Spiritual Practices: Preparing for the New Year

I have a way of both processing the year behind me and preparing for the year ahead that I’d like to share.

First, when I have some time, I take out my calendar and go through the year jotting down significant events. I have to do this because I can’t remember what happened yesterday, let alone a year ago.

From this list, I make two more. One includes the hard things that happened, and the other has the good things that happened. Seeing them on paper helps me process them. I can mourn the hard things and be grateful for the good things. It gives me perspective to think about the new year.

When it comes to the new year, I can look back and see what was missing. What do I need in the new year that will help it be a better year for me? When I did this recently, I realized what I’ve missed for the last few years are in-person gatherings. I have plenty of zoom meetings, but I miss seeing people in person. I wrote that down as a goal for the new year.

In the past, I’ve picked a word or phrase to pray into for the year. But I’ve noticed for the last few years that I’ve forgotten the word about three months in. That’s my aging brain, I guess, or just too much going on in my head to hold on to. Anyway, I was meeting with my spiritual direction peer supervision group, and we were all talking about the angst of the new year. It’s hard to be hopeful after the last three pandemic years. And someone suggested that instead of grasping onto what we want or hope for this year, we keep our hands cupped gently open, flexible to whatever God wants to do in us.

That image made a lot of sense to me: two hands open and gently cupped, I think I can remember that. It’s a good image for me for 2023 when nothing has gone according to plan for three years. We’ve all had parties, trips, concerts, conferences, and appointments canceled because of sickness, weather, or whatever. It’s the new norm.

So, I’m going to try and hold things loosely this year. I hope for more in-person gatherings, but I’m holding that loosely too.

Let me know how you prepare for the new year and what you are hoping for this year, so I can hold it with you.

  • Photo for glasses toasting by cottonbro studio on Pexels.com

  • Photo of calendar by Bich Tran on Pexels.com
  • Photo for women by Polina Tankilevitch on Pexels.com
  • Photo of hands by Kim Stiver on Pexels.com