The Art of Asking

I resisted the impulse to turn on the car radio. I sat in the car going to work, and I submitted to this beckoning to silence and listening.

My devotion time prior to this was very unfocused. Really, peace eludes me often when I am praying for myself. Then, when I listen to the ache in my spirit for specific people and I press into to prayer for them, my own burden lifts. And it did some this morning.
Still, I wanted to hear what God had to say to me concerning my life circumstances; what I should/shouldn’t do; how I ought to think about all the above. Sometimes, praying for myself (filling space with words) doesn’t help me hear.
 
QUIET YOUR HEART & ASK
I tend to want God to give answers to questions I didn’t ask. In my hurried mind, I don’t have time to ask the question. Give me the answer first, like some sort of Divine Jeopardy game. Now, I know it can work like this sometimes (He gives an answer to a question before we ask). When I haven’t known what to ask (or my questions don’t get to the heart of the issue), God has opened my eyes to truths I didn’t know I needed.
But when, if I took the time to quiet my heart, I would know what to ask, and I don’t, I hinder my own ability to receive. The folly in my impatience is that I refrain from quieting my heart before God to present my concerns in humility, and stubbornly expect to receive with clenched fists.
LISTEN 
Technically, it is still praying, but it’s not speaking so much that helps. Surely, He could speak above the noise of my own excessive pleas and grab my attention, but He knows what I need. I don’t need Him to be louder. I need to be quieter. I need to quiet my mind, intentionally; ask the question and listen for the answer. It seems obvious that in order to hear, I need to listen. But I neglect that essential element, as obvious as it may be.
NO, REALLY, LISTEN
Ask the question. Be silent. Listen for the answer. Sometimes the Holy Spirit speaks plainly, and I make it more confusing than it ought to be. I hear an answer I don’t like, and say, “I don’t think I heard You right.” I ask others to pray, I beg God for wisdom, and I refuse to listen. I have refused to listen.
Sitting in the car this morning, I asked a question, and in His kindness, He gave me an answer I didn’t like. He loves me too much to spare me the momentary pain of “No.”
His “No” is like a big hug to me. It stirs up a lament that only He can soothe, and He loves to care for me in this way. He is kind enough to speak exactly what I need to hear without fear of my response. His love is strong enough to lean on. I can put all my weight on His all-knowing goodness.
I can believe and trust Him completely. Even when it hurts. This resting & trusting  in Him began today with a silent car, a quiet heart & asking.

On a Positive Note: Questions on Authentic Happiness

Coping with mental health can be draining. Sometimes certain strategies (non-prescription, non-medical) work for a few months, and then they don’t work anymore. At least, that has been my experience.

I wanted to be a tad bit vulnerable here without over-sharing. Honestly, I would rather not go into details about the can of worms that is my mental health (focusing on the problem). Instead, I would like to share coping strategies – as they come, and as they go.

Hopefully, documenting them here will provide a convenient place I can come back to if I want to recycle a strategy to see if it might work again. And maybe someone else can find this helpful too.

Yesterday’s find: Positive Psychology. I watched this TED Talk by Martin Seligman.
In this talk, he sites his website www.authentichappiness.org. I went to the website and took literally all of the questionnaires that were applicable to me. And I felt better. Just answering the questions help me re-frame my mindset – particularly the Engagement Questionnaires.

For example, the Gratitude Survey provides sentences & you rate how much you agree or disagree. I love this format. You might know that being grateful is a key to being happy, but the prompt to “count your blessings” can come across as a bit condescending (don’t ask me why, but it feels that way sometimes). Instead, here, you’re given a sentence – “I have so much in life to be thankful for,” and now you can step outside of your thought life and emotions and answer objectively, without fear of judgment. Realistically, yeah, I do have a lot in life to be thankful for. And sometimes it takes framing the question a different way for me to see it.

I might just write down those “questions” in my journal to look back on. (And keeping a journal has been one of the most consistently helpful tools. Writing helps me to pray, and Jesus calms my soul.)

Peace ❤