Learning the unforced rhythms of grace

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Brain Blast

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When our kids were little, they watched a cartoon called “Jimmy Neutron”. Whenever Jimmy and his buddies ran into trouble, he would concentrate and then shout “Brain Blast!” and put his new idea into action.

I had a brain blast this morning, a burst of creative energy and a few ideas that I was ready to put into action. However, I sensed a caution in my spirit, and took some time to think it through a little longer.

One of the blessings of living with a chronic illness and pain, is that it is a very tangible, physical symptom. The reason that is a blessing, is that it helps me map out my emotional temperature and think more clearly. Let me explain.

This past weekend, pain increased so much that I had to cancel a weekend trip to a cabin with a few girl-friends. I was deeply disappointed. I really wanted to go.  God’s grace was comforting and I found the weekend to be calm in my spirit.

This morning, however, I was surprised and suspicious to see how ‘ramped’ up my brain was. As I took a deep breath and stepped back from my ‘brain blast’ moment, I discovered a few things.

My big ideas were big – meaning, bigger than I could actually follow through on. They didn’t seem to match my natural rhythm of life. They were grandiose and public and exciting. There is nothing wrong with this, but it seemed curious to me that this was coming to my mind right after a weekend of missing out.

Over time, I’ve learned to pay attention to these ‘blasts’ and not dismiss them, but slow down before implementing them. Here is an example of the process I go through:

1. Rewind and review:  (Pretend a video camera caught the past week on tape. What would I see if I watched the week’s clip?) For example: At home all weekend, a little bored, a little cabin-fever, feeling like I missed out. Fell behind on a few things, house is empty today, a little lonely, feels like other people’s lives are more productive.

2. Check to-do list: (sometimes the boring things cause me to feel highly motivated in other areas) For example: Need groceries, paperwork, doc appointment, laundry, run an errand…need to either do it myself or ask for help.

3. Ask what is realistic: Usually, after a few days of not feeling well, return to normal functioning is slow and patient. If this seems frustrating to me and not quick enough and not exciting enough, then perhaps it is worth sitting on the ‘brain blast’ idea a little longer. For example: doing laundry or going to a doctor appointment feels boring, I want to get on with something more fun – especially after missing out on something.

4. Be honest-not motivated: Sometimes motivation is easier than honest emotion. For example: it is difficult to do boring things today, after missing out on the girls weekend at the cabin. I really wanted to go on that. Laundry feels extra heavy this morning.

5. Accept reality and gently surrender: Usually by this point in the process, my heart has sobered a little and quieted down and I’m able to think clearly. For example: my prayer might look like this. “Lord, thank you for being with me this weekend. You comforted me. You were with me. Now, I need you still. I accept that my illness takes time, recovery takes time and that everything has a right time. I like these ideas that are fun and exciting. I want to be able to do them. But I will enter the day with a steady pace. I will do the boring things because they are important and maybe even more important than my big ideas. If you feel those should develop into something more, will you open the way for me to develop them? I will accept my limits today, surrender my will to yours and walk today out with your grace.”

6. Be creative within reality: Accepting reality or limits doesn’t have to mean putting your head down and trudging along. For example: if laundry is on the agenda, take a few minutes to pick some good music or a podcast to listen to while folding. Or if paperwork needs to be done, set up a table outside in the sunshine, and do it there. 

God is gracious and compassionate to us. He knows our thoughts better than we do. He loves our creativity and bursts of ideas. But he is not a reckless Creator. He is orderly, strategic, brilliant, meticulous and wild all at once. Just look at the trees and wasps and changing colours of this season.

Allow God to lead your creativity and nurture your soul! He knows what He is doing!