Jobs end.

Move to a new home … not to mention a new city.

Start new jobs.

Begin forming a new church.

Discover you’re going to be parents.

Hear the words: You lost the baby.

Finish graduate school.

Discover you’re going to be parents … again (and all the fear that this new beautiful reality holds).

Survive the hardest job you’ve ever had.

Begin a new job full of hope and possibilities.

Last Wednesday I finished my role at a local middle school. Most people who work at a school enjoy a whole summer off. I decided to jump into a new adventure with a nonprofit that is truly my dream job that allows me to continue pastoring a new and exciting church in the city. I have 11 precious and glorious days to breathe and, if I’m being honest, hopefully recover a bit.

Over the weekend, my husband, Micah, and I enjoyed extended time together with walks, breakfast together, laughter, naps, and time with family. It was delightful. On Monday, Micah went to work, and I came downstairs, grabbed a bowl of cereal, and sat down with my Bible and journal.

I sighed and began to cry.

In the deepest part of me — in my soul, I confessed what Jesus already knew.

My soul feels beat up.

I don’t have bruises on my skin, but my soul is another story. I’ve experienced an immense amount of change over the past 10 months, and I’ve carried some soul-hurts with me from previous years of demands. Not all change is bad, but even good change carries newness that can cause stress.

As I sat there, embracing the silence and the reality of Jesus’ presence with me, I sensed Jesus’ invitation to me — seek healing, renewal, and reclaim a savoring pace.

I thought the 11 days would include me crossing off many things on my to-do list. Instead, five things found themselves onto my new and approved to-do list:

Read

Write

Walk

Nap

Sit

Already, I am feeling more like myself — free, joyful, and content.

My walks have created opportunities to meet people in my neighborhood and to pray. Reading and writing fuels me, teaches me, and helps me connect with Jesus. Naps are restoring me physically. And to sit without any objective has provided opportunity for me to soak in my surroundings.

I’m steering clear of obligations and curbing my appetite for social media and screens. Yes, the laundry and dishes are still getting finished.

Meals are still being cooked. Bills are being paid. But, my pace is slower, and my soul’s pace is slower. I know that responsibilities will pick up again, and some haven’t gone away this week, but intentionally slowing down will help sustain me in the long run.

I don’t think I am the only person whose soul needs some TLC. You just have to slow down long enough to be honest with yourself.

Perhaps you’re taking on a new role — whether as a parent, at a new job, or as a volunteer.

Maybe you’ve heard of a difficult diagnosis and aren’t sure what this new reality means for yourself or family.

Losing a family member, friend, a dream, or a job can leave us lonely and devastated.

Perhaps your relationship with your spouse is tense and the arguments, or even lack of arguments, leave you forgetting why you got married in the first place.

Maybe parenting seems like an uphill battle.

Perhaps finances are tight, and it appears to be easier to just ignore the mail that stacks up.

Maybe your kids just graduated from high school or college, and the reality of them leaving the nest makes you question your own identity.

There are a million different reasons that your soul needs a break — and whatever it is for you, know that it matters.

It is worth getting honest with Jesus and asking for help. Maybe you don’t have 11 days to slow down, but maybe you can carve out five minutes today, and maybe a few hours or a day in the next week or month to slow down. Slowing down doesn’t mean that life stops or all of your stresses go away, but we need to take time to allow Jesus to renew our souls.

Over the last month, my time with Jesus has been simple. I’ve been reading and rereading passages of Scripture, writing my reflections, and praying. One of the passages I have been letting sink in is from Matthew 11: 28-30.

Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and burden is light.

This is Jesus’ invitation to you and me.

Go ahead, slow down because your soul needs Jesus.

Originally published in Heather’s blog, Savoring Pace.

Heather Brickner
Heather Brickner is pastor and co-founder of Branch & Vine, based in Lancaster city, Pa., where she lives with her husband, Micah. In addition to pastoring, Heather is a consultant at the Parish Resource Center, where she helps churches from across thirteen denominations accomplish their mission and vision. Heather enjoys hiking and traveling with Micah, a London Fog, a house full of laughter, and preparing for their daughter's arrival December 2017.

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