How many of us find ourselves running on empty with no time for rest, no time for ourselves, no time for God?
I know what that’s like. I’m good at surviving — an expert at figuring out how to do things right and do them well. I am not afraid of working hard, swallowing whatever might get me down, and pushing thorough.
I am a good thinker. I manage, cope and please.
I am good at taking care of everyone and everything else — except my heart and me.
Even though I’m married to my soulmate hubby, mom to two beautiful boys — deep inside, where no one can see — I feel restless. Stressed.
My heart feels weary. Most of the time, I don’t know what is wrong. So I tell myself nothing is wrong.
That I’m fine.
But, I’m really not.
My story is really every woman’s story. Because every woman has felt burned out and tired. Every woman longs to dream, to feed her soul and rest.
Yet we often put ourselves to the side, during the times we need rest the most.
Why is rest so hard?
I’ve taken an intimate journey to find the answers. And I’ve captured my heart-breaking journey in a book — so you can rejuvenate your souls with deep, beautiful rest too.
Win a Copy of Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awaken Your Soul to Rest
I’ve written a memoir-driven guidebook for you: Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Rest which has garnered starred review praise from Publisher’s Weekly, as one of the Top 6 notable new religion authors.
This week, Revell is giving away 10 copies for readers to enjoy!
Enter to win a copy. Click to share a comment by Friday midnight, 7/11/14.
On the brink of lifelong dream, my plans unexpectedly shattered into painful memories and anxiety. In my search for answers, I discovered we all need spiritual whitespace.
Whitespace is the space on a canvas left unmarked. It breathes beauty. Just like beautiful art, we need space to rest too.
If your soul longs for rest and a deeper intimacy with God into your everyday moment, find your spiritual whitespace through this book. Each chapter offers journaling questions for intimate self-reflection and group discussion to explore with friends.
I’d love to meet with you between the pages of Finding Spiritual Whitespace.
Here below is an excerpt from the book, for a glimpse into the journey of rest.
The Pink Outfit: Choosing Joy
I stood on the escalator next to him, one hand on the rail, as we rose higher to the upper level.
It felt so grand to be in such a fine place: the children’s department at The Emporium’s. It wasn’t a place where we usually bought our clothes, but today was different.
It was one of my father’s first visits after the divorce. I was excited because he said I could pick out whatever I wanted.
My father shuffled beside me with his greased-up hair, baggy pants, and wiry legs moving in sync with my curiosity. He would pull out something random off the shelves. This is pretty . . . you like?
Then I saw it.
Hanging up high, perched on a special display, was the most beautiful outfit I ever saw: a soft bubble-gum pink corduroy jacket with silver buckles and matching pants.
It was perfect. It’s hard to explain, if you’ve always had nice clothes or if the thought that something was worn never occurred to you. It looked amazing to me. Which one should I get—the jacket or the pants?
As I stood there tippy-toes, reaching out to fish the outfit down, my father told me to stand still and placed the outfit in front of me with one arm shot straight out, eyeing me like an old woman threading a needle.
“Turn around,” he said, pressing the sleeves against my wrists. “It fits. Daddy will buy both for you.”
As I stood there at the checkout register, watching my father pay, I couldn’t believe it. The whole outfit?
My heart was bursting, full of something beautiful. New. All for me.
Never in a thousand years would I have guessed I’d never have the chance to wear that jacket and those pants out in broad daylight. They were thrown in the garbage later that night.
A Perfect Moment
We didn’t have a garbage disposal back then. So my momma took whatever leftover gunk was found in the sink and dumped it on top of my outfit, with the tags still hanging off of it. I stood there in that gloomy kitchen. Devastated.
I don’t have anything good anymore. It’s gone.
I felt so lonely. Something I thought was perfect and mine was no longer any good.
I thought it fit perfectly when I tried it on in front of the mirror in the hallway. I could tell from my mother’s eyes this was the furthest thing from the truth.
“You look ridiculous,” she spat.
Maybe this is when I first learned how completely lonely a feeling it is to hope for joy -– how hoping for it meant leaving room for disappointment.
It’s easy when you’re young to believe dreams can come true. But if you’ve ever truly had a perfect moment carry you to a place of belief -—whether it be a positive pregnancy test, a romance, friendship, a parent, your health, a career, or a life-long dream —- and then had it taken away, then you know what it feels like to see something perfect end up in the refuse of broken dreams and mismatched opportunities.
You begin to wonder whether anything is worth delighting in again. Is anything really worth enjoying if it can’t last anyway?
The Side of the Road
Rest and joy can feel dangerous. For some of us, joy is connected to times where it was ruined, when a simple moment of happiness was decimated by a person, place, or thing.
I wasn’t trying to be a martyr, but I did not choose joy for the sake of having joy. I didn’t need it.
Then Jesus caught me in an unguarded moment.
I was there, Bonnie. I stood beside you, as you cried.
As you looked into the garbage and saw something you loved being destroyed, I was there. And I’m here with you now.
Jesus called to my mind a man who was battered. Imperfect. Bruised.
“Who is my neighbor?” a lawyer asked Jesus.
Jesus told him a story of a nobody lying on the side of the road — a man no one stopped to pay any attention — except the Good Samaritan.
Jesus said precious oil and wine were splurged onto this man’s wounds.
Joy and rest: the oil and wine missing from my life.
Jesus understands the wounds where joy has been demolished. He whispers —
Your wounds are not invisible. Your wounds have value to me.
The Joy-Wounded Stranger
I used to think the wounded stranger in Jesus’ story was someone else. Now I know that joy-wounded stranger is me.
Jesus reminded me this man was carried to a place of rest.
I will never run out of rest for you, Bonnie.
No matter how much you need. No matter how long it takes.
I will care for you.
We stop so easily for others. Will we stop on the side of our busy lives and take care of us?
Jesus is calling us to make room for Spiritual Whitespace -– to slow down and nurture our souls with joy and rest.
That Pink Outfit
Your story will read different from mine. But, we all have old pink outfits -— joy that has been lost.
God can help us recover the courage to reach for a new pink outfit — by resting today.
Let’s give ourselves permission to be real. To go beyond surviving. To uncover what feeds our soul.
Jesus is kind and gentle, whispering in different ways—
You are loved.
You’re worth it.
“Come to me. all you who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest.”
How is God prompting your heart to rest?
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Watch a Short Video About My Story: Book Trailer
Bonnie Gray is the author of Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Rest, garnering starred review praise from Publisher’s Weekly, as one of the Top 6 notable new religion authors. Bonnie’s writing is nationally syndicated, contributor at Crosswalk.com and DaySpring’s (in)courage. A UCLA graduate, Bonnie has been missionary, ministry entrepreneur and high-tech professional in Silicon Valley. Bonnie serves up shots of faith at FaithBarista.com in Northern California with her husband Eric and their two sons. Connect with Bonnie on Facebook and Twitter.