I was at lunch today with a new friend. (Insert sounds of cheering!) After devouring plates of quesadillas and enchiladas and finishing off a bowl of chips dipped in salsa, we started talking about Jesus. Both of us have been involved in ministry in the Catholic Church for years. She has given countless hours serving teens, my time spent around tables with women. Over the years, we have noticed some changes.
If you have been seated near me at the table, you know I love talking about all things faith. I might struggle with small talk about sports, the weather, or traffic, but bring up Jesus and my mind fires on all cylinders. Hours pass like minutes when someone shares their thoughts on faith with me. I love hearing anyone’s faith story, learning more about how God catches someone’s heart and discovering just how easy it is for our faith to slip away when life gets busy.
As we talked, I began to think about what happens to a woman as busy crowds her calendar and worry settles in to stay. I started to share some things with my new friend that have been running through my mind, but have not yet made it onto paper.
I told her that we are living amongst the most affluent, anxious generation in all of American history. This, despite the fact that we have more conveniences and freedom than most women around the world.
In fact, a recent Gallup Report on emotions revealed that almost 60% of Americans report being stressed on a regular basis. How can this be when we have dinner and movies on demand?
So many look put together on the outside, yet our souls are starving.
As anxiety has increased, the membership rolls of American churches has decreased. Now, this decrease in attendance may not be evident if you live in the suburban South where some churches are bursting at the seams. But head up the Eastern seaboard toward New York and Boston, and you are probably nodding your head knowingly as you deal with the aftermath from the consolidation of parishes, the closure of Catholic schools, as the few voices echo around the church and you have to wave to give the sign of peace because everyone is seated so far apart.
I am beginning to think there is a link between the drift away from the communal practice of organized religion and the increased sense of the constant low hum sense of worry that many experience.
Life is running at a pace our bodies were not designed to sustain. In an effort to keep up, we run faster, and add more to our overly full plates. This keeps us on our toes and prevents us from connecting with the God who desires to connect us in His love.
We no longer know where to turn for answers because there is just too much information.
So many of us are exhausted and fall onto the couch each night scrolling through Instagram/Facebook, opening emails, while steaming a movie on Netflix . Instead of curating our intake, we defer to algorithms to tell us what we should watch and see.
What we take in visually and audibly should fuel our souls. Sadly, most of us are worn out from all the things we have to do in a day and we rely upon entertainment to provide us a rest that gives very little in terms of nourishment. A night on the couch with our laptops can be the equivalent of feeding our souls a box of donuts.
Our souls are starving for connection with the Holy Spirit.
In the same way we nourish our bodies with healthy food, our souls need connection with the Holy Spirit in order to flourish. Without sustenance, your soul withers and it becomes more difficult to receive all the love and grace that Jesus so desperately wants to pour into you each day. For years I thought the only way to connect with God in prayer was to pray within a church or late at night.
Prayer is not limited by geography, calendar, or clock.
If you wake up each morning with a vague sense of worry that you cannot shake, you might be tempted to believe that God is busy somewhere else and has left you alone This could not be further from the truth. His love is unfailing and never ending, He sees and knows. If you are frustrated with the people around you and find yourself losing your temper more often than you like, turn your heart back to Him and allow Him to nourish your soul.
Here are some ideas about how to refuel.
Pause- Identify what you are feeling. Ask yourself what, specifically, you are worried about. If you cannot identify the source of the worry— offer this feeling to God and ask Him to help you discover what is weighing on your mind and heart.
Ponder- If you can name the worry, ask yourself if you can take any small step, right now, to fix the problem. If so, act. Offer a prayer of gratitude.
Abide- If there is nothing you can do right now with the worry capturing your attention, Abide with Jesus and Submit your worry to Him:
Jesus, I trust that You love me and want what is best for me. I submit ________________________ to You. Keep me safe, fill me with Your love, help me abide with you.
Each time we lift our minds and hearts to God in prayer, our souls can expand to hold more and more of His grace. He strengthens us to live in His love and recognize His movements throughout our day.
How do you nourish your soul?
I would love to hear all about it! Tell your story in the comments below.