This would be your cue for a drum roll.
Seriously, I think it's a great one, something we can lead up to in the next two weeks. You all actually came up with it in your honest sharing of the kinds of pressures you're under and your deep longing to find God somewhere in the midst of it. I want to explore that with you over the next 5 posts, culminating in the retreat focus that I think KATE came up with: How to keep God, not just in there someplace, but right at the center.
What do you think?
We'll talk about finding rhythm with the help of spiritual disciplines. Making room for joy. Setting priorities. And discussing pressures with the people who put them on you -- who very often are your parents. We won't "solve" all the problems of pressure. That's pretty much a continuing journey. But we can come up with tools for you to use to confront the challenges.
I don't have to tell you that you can't do this without God. No way. No how. You already know that. But what I'm not sure we're clear on (at least, not all the time) is that you don't have to "make" God the center of everything. Or "put" God at the center. Or even "keep" God there. The truth is, God is already there. Always has been. Our job is just to discover it. Over and over and over.
So let's start there. Let's take a look at Psalm 46. I'm not going to tell you to skim down to verse 10, the famous, "Be still and know that I am God." You're walking around bent over with pressure from school, dance, sports, college decisions, and the dreaded P word (that would be "perfection"). How the Sam Hill are you supposed to "be still?" That's like saying, "Don't think about a white horse," right?
That's not where I'm taking you, at least right now. What I think might help you right now is found in verse 1.
"God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble."
You got that, right? A "present" help. Now. Here. Not when you get this all worked out, get your act together. Not when you're facing some matter of life and death. Uh, this stuff IS your life. And God is present. Don't beat yourself up if you've kind of forgotten that. Remember it now. The pressure you're feeling to perform, to please, to be perfect -- God is your very present help in this.
If it were enough to just say that, the psalmist would've stopped there. But since it's a hard thing to actually store in your cells, he goes on to give examples. I personally love examples.
"Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam,, though the mountains tremble with its tumult."
An incredible minister I know, Jerry Webber, who founded the Center for Christian Spirituality in Houston, Texas, teaches people to put the Psalms in terms that apply to their own lives. Ours might look something like this:
"Therefore we will not fear, though everyone expects me to have a perfect 4.0 grade point average, though I feel so overwhelmed by my schedule I want to cry all the time, though I feel like not one single person understands me."
What is it that's making you feel like everything is changing? What seems like it's shaking the very heart of your being? What's roaring and foaming and trembling with its tumult?
If you'd like to post a comment, try rewriting verses 2 and 3 of Psalm 46. Be as specific as you can about your own situation. Make sure the first part of verse 2 is firmly in place: "Therefore we wil not fear --"
"God is . . . a very present help in trouble." Let's show him we believe that by laying all our trouble before him. I'll start:
"Therefore I will not fear, though I'm so far behind in my work, though there's so much I want to do for my girls and there doesn't seem to be enough time, though I now have to add a serious exercise program to my already standing-room-only-schedule, though I can't seem to carve out enough time for the people I love --"
I'd love to see my inbox stuffed with versions of Psalm 46:2-3. Now that's an invitation you don't hear from me often!
Nancy Rue (I guess I should explain this picture of baby Maeryn. She's under pressure to learn to crawl. She tried, and rolled herself right up in her floor blanket. Yeah, it starts early, doesn't it?