This week as we continue in our sermon series “Searching for Truth,” we will look at what the Apostle’s Creed says about sin and forgiveness. I don’t imagine many of you are jumping for joy as you consider these concepts of the Christian faith. For many of us these words make us cringe or want to run away and hide. So I thought I would start my prayer tip by telling you an embarrassing story about a time I didn’t live into God’s best for me. I hope this liberates you to be honest with yourself about areas or moments of separation from God in your own lives.
I was in high school and my little sister in middle school. As a high school student (and even now), I have always loved a good nap. One lazy weekend afternoon, I turned on my favorite TV show and drifted peacefully to sleep. Until, suddenly, I was rudely awakened. It felt as though an earthquake had hit, and it happened to have Taylor Swift songs blaring as its back-up music. Before you get alarmed, you should realize that once I was awake enough to get my bearings, I knew these obnoxious noises were coming from the basement, where my sister was running on the treadmill jamming to her favorite tunes. I asked her “kindly” (with the grumpiest spirit) to get off the treadmill and turn the music off. Nope–nothing. And who could blame her? She was exercising and jamming, both good and healthy things. So what did I do to my kid sister? I marched downstairs and shoved my sister off the treadmill. I hope none of you have experience with this, but it doesn’t produce pretty results. My poor sister, already walking through the awkward middle school years, was now scraped up from head-to-toe. She had the most pitiful tears coming from her eyes.
Why does this story get to me? You likely understand sibling quarrels, but this went way beyond that. I acted out of extreme selfishness with little concern for someone I love so much. My potential to cause harm was a huge wake-up call. Not only that, but this incident taught me a lot about the importance of self-awareness. So often we live with a sense of what I have heard called “hurry-sickness.” We rush around, hastily tackling the task at hand so we can move on to what is next. I don’t know about you, but at that pace, I push my mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health to the side. In the story I just shared, I know my mind was full of anxious thoughts on replay, my anger had been growing inside me for weeks, my body was aching from a lack of sleep and I had been neglecting my prayer life. I never slowed down to realize just how bad things had gotten. I wasn’t even aware of all I was thinking, feeling, experiencing in my body or experiencing in my soul. So I exploded! The little steps I had taken away from God’s love and peace, intentionally or unintentionally, had mounted up, and I acted out.
So this is my prayer challenge for you this week. Take some time each day to sit in the presence of the Holy Spirit and check-in on yourself. Find a quiet place. Close your eyes. Pay attention to your physical self–do you have any aches or pains? Where in your body are you carrying tension? Then take time to tune in to your thoughts–what do you notice about them? Are there any unhealthy patterns? Focus on what you are feeling–anger, sadness, fear, jealously, hopelessness, etc? Finally, consider this: how is it with my soul? Do I feel close to God? Am I living faithfully? Know that whatever you find when you check-in is okay. You are normal. You are loved. Then take time to open yourself to all you have discovered of God’s love and care. Ask God to restore, renew and refresh you.
God, may our mindfulness allow us to have a more faithful walk with thee. Amen.
– Rev. Katherine Ebling-Frazier