You have undoubtedly noticed the madness of the world we live in. I wonder if you’ve noticed what it’s doing to your heart and soul?
We’re spending 5-9 hours a day on our mobile phones, 3 hours using apps, consuming enough media each day to crash a laptop in a week. But it’s not just the technology; there’s a pace of life that goes with it. Because we can now do everything at the speed of the smartphone, we feel we must keep up with the speed of the smartphone. Do you remember enjoying making dinner, and lingering over it with friends? Once a daily source of joy, it’s now become an “event.” Stasi and I have to schedule a dinner with friends two or three months out.
We’ve fallen into a pace of life no one is enjoying. The soul is not a smartphone, and was never meant to live like one.
This madness is robbing us of the time and margin to do all those things that make for a rich human life – meals, gardening, reading, painting, listening to music, taking long walks. Whatever your personal “soulful joys” once were. All that once fed our souls is falling to the wayside as we simply try to keep our heads above water.
I’d like to suggest a bit of sanity, a few simple steps that can help you get your life back.
1. Learn to pause in your day
No one stops anymore, not even for a moment. If we have some down time, we are immediately on our phones. It doesn't allow the soul time to recover, renew, connect with God. A One Minute Pause is the simple practice of learning to stop during your day for 60 seconds. Simply pause. Not for reflection, or making lists, not even for prayer per say. The Hebrew word shabbat (sabbath) means to "stop," to "cease." We practice shabbat in a very simple way. I find it especially helpful at the end of my day, before I get out of my car and head into the house. I simply stop, pause, be still and know that God still is God. The Pause has become such a lifesaver for me and my team, we developed an app to help you with the practice.
2. Let it Go
We carry far too much; we take on the sorrows of the world, and never set them back down. 1 Peter 5:7 says, "Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you". Caring Christians are suffering from empathy overload, compassion fatigue, because we are exposed to the sorrow of every cause and community around the globe, on a daily basis. Delivered hourly on our mobile devices. We have to learn to let it go, give it all over to Jesus. Every day. Maybe several times a day. Only then will we discover what Jesus meant by the light yoke, the easy burden. I use my Pauses to practice “benevolent detachment,” giving it all back to God.
3. Get Outside
The World Health Organization reports we now spend 93% of our lives indoors. It is the final nail in the coffin of the human experience. Your soul was not made to live in an artificial world; it was made for creation, God’s world, filled with wonder and beauty and life. Notice where you tend to take your holidays – I suspect it involves beautiful places. Though I cannot get to the forest every day, I can get outside. Even for five minutes. Sometimes to walk the dog; sometimes I simply walk around my office building. (“There goes John,” says my team. “Taking another lap.”) I am refreshed every time I do.
4. Drink Beauty
A fascinating fact: People in hospital recover faster, and need less pain medication, if they simply have a window looking upon nature. Isn’t that wonderful? God knew we needed the healing power of beauty, so he filled the world with it, just he saturated our world with oxygen. Sunlight through your kitchen window, songbirds in the garden, rainy city streets at night, frost on your windshield, the wind in the trees – beauty is all around us. Pause, and receive it; literally “welcome” it into your soul. “Thank you, Father, for this beauty; I receive it into my soul.” You will find it so healing.
5. Allow for Transitions
Something we overlook in the Gospels are all of the in-between times when Christ and his followers were walking from one town to another. When the record states, “The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee,” (John 1:43) we project our own pace upon it, not realising it took the boys three days by foot to get there. Three days just strolling along, talking, or sharing the silent beauty; the pauses for lunch or a drink from a well; the campfires in the evening.
Christ does not move immediately from one dramatic story to another; there was “down time,” transition time between those demands. Time to catch their breath before the next encounter. We rush from a tender conversation with our child into an angry commute, straight into tense meetings, and then we try and be “present” to our loved ones at the end of a haggard day. We are forcing our souls through multiple gear changes each day, until we get to the point that we don’t even know what we are feeling anymore.
Allow for some transition space between work and rest, tough meetings and tender conversations, hard news and your weekend sabbath.
The good news is this – though the world spins into further madness, we can actually do some very simple things that will refresh and renew our souls.
John Eldredge is an author, counselor, and teacher. He is also president of Ransomed Heart, a ministry devoted to helping people discover the heart of God, recover their own hearts in God's love, and learn to live in God's Kingdom. John is best known for his book Wild at Heart. His latest title is Get Your Life Back