I spend a good deal of time in conversations with women. And one of the things I hear over and over and over again is this: “I feel like I’ve lost myself.” or “I feel like I don’t know who I am any more.”
Trauma, stress, transition, life stage, responsibilities — hard things and even hoped-for things — can cause us to lose track of all those pieces and parts of us that make us who we are. And it’s scary. It’s scary when we don’t feel like we have footing, when we feel slightly untethered and we don’t quite recognize ourselves anymore. As a result, many of us have taken a step back, gotten too quiet. Some of us are even hiding a bit.
One option, when faced with this sense of self-loss, is to launch out in search of reinvention. I don’t know about you, but I don’t always have the time and energy for reinvention. And, perhaps “who I am” is not so much “out there” as it is “in here” — and it just needs to be rediscovered more than reinvented. Is that possible?
Throughout last year, God kept pressing a word onto my heart, tapping it into my soul. It is the word RETURN. Return to me, and I will return to you (Zach 1:3). Return to yourself. Return to your own soul. Return to the garden where we can walk together. Return to beauty. Return to your loves. Return to your 6 year old self. Return to your 83 year old self. Return to your strength. . . . And I will meet you there.
Returning, while not nearly as sexy as reinvention, sits well with my soul. It seems like the holy postures and practices of abiding (which literally means “onward wait”), listening, being still, confessing, longing, and honoring the God-work in us. Returning, to me, is less about striving and pushing and strangling and control. It’s about sitting down and doing exactly what Maya tells us to do: “Listen to yourself and in that quietude you might hear the voice of God.”
Here’s how it looks for me. I find a beautiful spot . . .
I bring items that make me feel extra safe and extra inspired . . .
And I set my phone timer for as long as I can. Ideally, it’s 20 minutes. Sometimes, it’s 4. I call it “Twenty Minutes of Soul Time” and I spend some time with my soul. I light the expensive candle as a way of honoring those lost parts of myself, even though it costs like $6 every minute the candle burns. Even though.
I take notes for my soul. Literally. I just agree to transcribe, instead of judge, anything that surfaces. My role is supporter not skeptic.
Then I ask God if there’s anything he wants to say about what I’ve written down. And I listen some more.
I cannot tell you how powerful this practice has become for me. I am often so tempted to rush toward reinvention when God is always calling me back. Return, Leeana, return. You already have everything you need. It’s time to return to what I’ve written on your soul.
Lent is such a perfect time to begin your practice of 20 minutes of soul time. This is a season of quietude, of reflection, of listening. And I’d love to hear how it goes for you, what you discover, the ways you reconnect with those beautiful and mysterious parts of yourself.
As always, I am with you and for you!