“Isn’t it funny how we try to busy ourselves with ‘stuff’ just so we don’t have to think about how far we pushed God out of our lives?”
-Anne Slamkowski, Revealing Faith
I read this question in a book I just received from a friend of mine. Did I mention that the friend also happens to be the author of the book? Isn’t that exciting?! Imagine my surprise when I read in her post on Facebook (of all places) that her “new book is coming out September 1st!” What??? Of course, I had to order it!! (And I requested an autograph, too, ’cause I’m kind of pushy like that).
Anyhoo, last week this little gem arrived in my mailbox:
It was complete with a lovely note and autograph, per my request. (Well, technically I didn’t request the lovely note, but I’d really hoped for one. What a gift!)
So…let me fill you in on how I know this author!
From the moment I met Anne Slamkowski she was an instant friend who I was so happy (and grateful) to have come into my path. We’d both traveled (somewhat reluctantly) to the mountains of Utah from the Midwest. Raising our young families in a valley between mountains was not something either one of us flatland Midwestern gals had ever imagined for ourselves, and we weren’t entirely sure why we’d been brought so “far from home.” Still, we must have trusted enough– especially in finding each other –that somehow we’d been brought together for a reason.
One of those reasons (as it turned out for me) was so I could become better acquainted with another friend named Lisa, who happened to be (and still is) one of Anne’s best friends. Lisa proved to be a tremendous source of strength and support for me when– as quickly as I’d come to know her– Anne was yanked from my life due to a relocation for her husband’s job “back home” in the Midwest. (And if you’re following this right, you’ll note that I insisted on placing my grief of being left behind by a brand new friend over Lisa’s grief of being left behind by the same person who happened to be one of her best friends. Dear Lord, do you see why she’s so special??)
Anyhoo, as I was saying both Lisa and I were saddened to see Anne and her family leave Utah, but her absence paved the way for our friendship to develop. And to this day it is Lisa that I refer to as my “sister” because we are of similar heart and mind. Also, it’s quite fun to have a sister with my same first name. It makes me think of “Darrell and my other brother Darrell” from the old Newhart show. Now, six years later, all three of us reside in separate states, but I still hold tight to those memories of the time the three of us spent together in the same “hometown.”
That’s why today I’m happy to tell you a little about Anne and her wonderful book and this great blog she writes. I finished her book last night after just starting it yesterday. It’s probably not exactly meant to be read cover to cover like that since it’s full of reflective questions and all, but since I am privileged enough to know some of Anne’s story, I found myself wanting to read it all RIGHT NOW to know the parts of Anne’s story that I didn’t know.
So I read it all.
And there were things I underlined and put little hearts and smiley faces by because I loved them or they made me smile.
And then there were questions to answer.
And our relationship.
And with Anne’s urging (she’s always been a good urger) I feel inspired to write about something of which Anne calls us all to be mindful. Between her blog–found on her beautifully titled website “Making Room for God” which you can find right here— and her book Revealing Faith (which you can order from the website), she is determined to make us all a little more mindful of putting God first in our lives.
So, I’ve been thinking about that.
And since Anne asks lots of questions of her readers on her blog, and I almost never do (because my blog is all self-focused and whatnot), I thought I’d go ahead and share some of my answers to the one lingering question I think about every time I visit her site.
Because it’s a really good question.
And that question is this:
How do I make room for God in my life?
And I’ve been kind of curious to see what answers I come up with.
And I want to share my answers because until recently (in the past couple of years or so), I’d somehow bought into the belief that there’s was a “right” way to spend time with God. And that “right” way felt really reverent and formal and kind of forced and uncomfortable for me. But I still thought it was “right” and as a result I thought that all the other times I was thinking about God or wondering with God or even marveling at God didn’t really “count.” But then I found a spiritual advisor and discovered the Desert Fathers (and Mothers), and mysticism, and Richard Rohr and the Benedictines and the Franciscans, and most recently dipped into some of the Eastern practices for getting to know God, and I started realizing that almost any time spent thinking about or being with God is a valid part of developing a relationship with Him.
It’s how mysticism helped move our relationship forward– God’s and mine– because while He was all Fine and Perfect? I was kind of stuck. And when I discovered the mystics and their writings, they pointed out to me that the reverent, formal prayer I struggled with… is right.
Yep. You read that correctly. Formal, reverent prayer is right.
But they went on to say that all that thinking and wondering and marveling that I was doing?
It was right, too.
Think of it this way: it’s like adhering to the belief that the only part of your relationship that matters with your spouse or your friends and loved ones is the time you spend talking to them, and then making the realization that your relationship is based not only on talking to them, but also any time you spend thinking about them or wondering what they’re up to or remembering something they told you, or sharing stories about things they did or said. (Of course, Anne does a good job of pointing out that if you’re not talking to them at all, –which almost all of us are guilty of at least some of the time, especially when it comes to God– then that’s not so good either). But, I’m working here on the assumption that you already are talking to them/Him. Now, I don’t know about you, but when someone says to me, “So… [your husband/son/daughter/mom/dad, etc.] tells me you are…” and they go on to tell me something that my loved ones or friends shared with them about me, that tells me that even when we’re apart, they are still thinking of me.
And that only adds to the things we say to each other when we’re together.
(And yes, I do realize that God is always with us, and never apart from us, Smartypants, but sometimes we do find ourselves drifting from Him. Anyway, it’s an analogy. Which by the way I stink at. But it’s the best I could do).
That’s kind of what mysticism is. And once I embraced this mystical element to my relationship with God, I changed my mind about there being only one “right” way to spend time with Him, (or, as Anne points out in her book: God changed my mind for me) and I just started kind of hanging out with Him.
And I thought you might like to know how I do it.
Hang out with God, I mean.
So, later this week I’ll be sharing some of the answers I came up with about how I make room for God in my life.
And I hope you’ll put some thought into how you do it, too.
And then I hope you’ll leave a comment or drop me a note about it. Not so we can stand up proudly and say, “Isn’t it great that we do this?” (well, OK, maybe a little of that…) but rather in the hopes that if we make a conscious effort to consider what it is we are already doing, it will help us to see and hear– through each other– more of what God may be asking of us.
Because– as Anne’s question has reminded me– when it comes to having a relationship with someone we refer to as The Eternal One… isn’t there always room for more?