Faith, Fear, Forgiveness

Stuff: What We Hold In Our Hearts

early-morning-reflection

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

This is part two of a three-part series about creating white space in our homes and our lives. You can find the first post here.

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Last week, I shared a bit about how I repurposed my “junk/project” room into a creativity space.

Purging stuff from our homes can become addictive. At least for me. As I worked through the things in my “creativity nook,” joy infiltrated my spirit. There is something about opening up space that opens up breathing room in my spirit. 

boy-faces-waves

 

I have been thinking about this whole white space concept for my spirit too. It’s one thing to purge in our homes. It’s another to purge within ourselves. How do we clean out the noisy spaces inside us?

I’m going to get a little nosy today. I’ll ask for forgiveness in advance. If these words hit a nerve, stop and ask God to show you what He wants you to see.

Please know that I am asking myself these same questions. I’m the last one to point fingers at these tender issues we each deal with.

SCHEDULE

How many of us run around all day long, doing things, making appointments, shuttling kids from one activity to the next, and filling every spare moment of our time?

unsettled-waves

 

If this is something you tend to do, ask God to show you what drives you to stay so busy. If you’re really brave, ask Him to strip away any excuses you’re using to justify this pattern in your life. What need are you trying to fill by staying busy? Or, are you hiding from something?

Not that having a full schedule is a bad thing. It’s just that if we stay overly busy for too long, we burn out. Become worn down.

When we don’t have white space in our days, the noise of too much activity makes us deaf to the Lord’s promptings. To hearing the words and directions He wants to share with us.

the-noise-of-too-much-activity-deaf-copy

 

When we’re too busy to engage with Him we run on our own strength, and we will wear out. Not “If”, but “When.” It will happen.

Psalm 90:12—“So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

When we are intentional about how we spend our days, we gain wisdom. We also open up white space in our minds and hearts.

HEART

What stuff in our hearts have we held onto that we no longer need?

overcast-beach

 

Are we clinging to unforgiveness like some kind of life line? Do we justify certain words and actions because we have held onto a past offense?

Let’s get honest. Unforgiveness only leads to bitterness. And bitterness leads to all kinds of destruction . . . physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

running-away-from-water

 

What about wounds that have been pricked, scratched, reopened, and bruised over the years? I’m working my way through some of these. Maybe it’s time to hand our hurts over to God and let His healing begin within us.

It takes humility to admit to God that we haven’t trusted Him with these wounds. Either we’ve doubted He could heal, or we’ve been afraid that He would do so in a way we didn’t want.

When we choose to trust God with the stuff in our hearts, He’s faithful to remove the piled up clutter from past hurts. He works with the hands of a loving Father.

crashing-waves-on-rocks

 

FEAR

How many of us have avoided doing something because we were afraid? I’m raising my hand here. Fear has held me captive for too long.

Fear of rejection.

Fear that I wasn’t good enough.

Fear that I wouldn’t be able to do that thing I desperately wanted to do.

Someone defined fear as:

False

Evidence

Appearing 

Real.

crashing-wave-dissipating

 

When we base our decisions on fear, our minds become cluttered with lies and half-truths. Fear films our eyes with a filter that tells us we can’t do it. Fear deceives us into thinking doing “that thing” is all on our shoulders.

We forget that God gives us dreams, callings, responsibilities. But, He also enables us to fulfill them, when we walk with Him.

And just like when waves crash on rocks and dissipate, our fear will evaporate when we think on God’s truth.

2 Timothy 1:7—“He has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind.”

footprint-facing-waves

 

Cling to this truth. God has given us power. He has given us love. And He has given us a sound mind.

A sound mind is not clouded by fear.

It is solid in its beliefs and about Who empowers us. We need to trade in fear for trusting God. 

There may be more things occupying the shelves of our internal closets, so let’s consider those next week.

What about you? What Bible verses help you keep fear in check? What helps you to keep your schedule in balance? Or do you?

Click to Tweet: Creating white space in our hearts

Today I’m linking up with Holly Barrett’s Testimony Tuesday and Kelly Balarie’s #RaRaLinkup

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30 thoughts on “Stuff: What We Hold In Our Hearts”

  1. Great essay, Jeanne!

    I don’t really have a problem with over-scheduling, because there’s so little I can do now. So much of life is just rest and recovery. There was a time when I did indeed over-schedule, but I’ve done my best to forget the details.

    In dealing with very real fear, I don’t turn to verses; it’s the whole story of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection that works for me.

    It was operative this weekend, as I stopped breathing again…and knew what was happening. It wasn’t fun.

    http://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com/2017/01/your-dying-spouse-259-another-nde-and-i.htm

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    1. Andrew, you have your priorities in order. Rest and recovery is important. I love that your focus is on Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. I think sometimes we focus on bits and pieces of His life and we forget the power the testimony of His life offers.

      I am so so sorry you stopped breathing! I don’t know that there’s much scarier or impacting than this. I’m continuing to pray for you, friend.

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  2. I love this series, Jeanne… I’m such a believer in creating space and that the enemy keeps us busy and cluttered for a reason. I’m practicing a couple of things: fasting from tech – and embracing quiet.

    I’m trying to take regular breaks from all media/internet/screen. And it’s very powerful.

    For the quiet, I’m trying to sit in silence regularly… just to breathe and create space for God.

    I just loved your section on creating space in our hearts. Gonna have to revisit those words. Thanks so much for your thoughtful words – they are a blessing.

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    1. Awww, thank you, Karen. I’ve had a struggle with taking breaks from social media and screen time. Doing this definitely promotes a stillness, doesn’t it? I think I am going to follow your example of sitting in silence before God.

      Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts here, Karen. I always appreciate your wisdom!

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  3. Another wonderful post to think on, Jeanne. For the last week, I have been mulling over … “Be still, and know that I am God.” For me, the recent application has been to deal with the things that are distracting. I have felt like the Lord has been saying it this way to my heart, “Be still, {{coma}} and then you will know that I am God.” The stillness must come first. Not be still and know but be still, and then you will know 🙂 Anyway, this post just confirmed these same thoughts this morning for me and for that, I am most grateful to have stopped here. Have a great Tuesday!

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    1. Joanne, this is one of my favorite verses. Years ago, I began praying it at night to settle my mind and my heart before sleep. I think one of the things God will be working with me on this year is dealing with distractions. Distractions prevent us from acting intentionally. This verse will be a good one to remember in those crazy-making times.

      I’m hearing a common pattern in the comments today. Be still, as you said. This comes first. Then we can know God truly IS God. Love these words, Joanne. Thanks so much for adding to the conversation. Such wisdom in your words!

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  4. I was waving my hand furiously over here to the question about fear. It is an area in my life that trips me up too often. As hard as I try to let it go, the enemy works harder to not let me forget. I love these words “A sound mind is not clouded by fear.” That is a mantra I need to put on repeat on those days that fear wants to overwhelm.

    Thank you for challenging us with questions that we don’t want to ask ourselves. The scripture references provide the truth and give us tools to help us fight busyness, heartache and fear. Have a blessed week.

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    1. Mary, I’ve had to deal with fear plenty of times too. We have to choose which will guide our hearts—fear or faith. They can’t both be in charge, can they? I’ve let fear have the upper hand too many times. Maybe we can both encourage each other to live directed by faith in God and the firm foundation of His word. Thanks for your honesty here. I always appreciate your comments.

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  5. I’m learning to do this, but it doesn’t come naturally, and so it’s three steps into the crazy and then one step back into the white space. Little by little, God is teaching me that HE is enough.

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    1. Michele, I had to chuckle. A little. I have definitely been in the crazy-crazy-crazy-step back pattern. November and December were that way for me. I’m working to prepare for the next crazy season so that I don’t step into it so much as walk through holding Jesus’ hand and clinging to the truths of God’s word. 🙂 And yes, God is always ENOUGH. Another one of my favorite truths. 🙂

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  6. “Either we’ve doubted He could heal, or we’ve been afraid that He would do so in a way we didn’t want.” I know I have held onto grievance for my own justification, yet it only keeps me in chains–so more of a prison so to speak! Like Jonah who laments when God saves the people, I know my bent sense of what is right and wrong can do the same and definitely bringing a lot of static in the white space! Great post today, J. Why would we want to bring all that noise into our white spaces when it is so peaceful and joyful there? It’s kind of crazy how we can bring misery on ourselves isn’t it?!! I’m so guilty of this for sure but so grateful God keeps showing me how it is, and can be when surrender to His love.

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    1. Lynn, yes, there is so much peace and joy in our white spaces! I can be too effective in cluttering it up. With the start of a new year, and the truths God’s been sharing with me, I’m going to be intentional about guarding those white spaces in my heart and dealing with the noise as soon as it tries to come in. 🙂

      I’m so thankful for our many-chances giving God, who deals with us lovingly and patiently. I, too, am thankful for His gentle reminders of the good that comes when we surrender to His love.

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  7. Thanks for sharing these thoughts, Jeanne. They are challenging questions but helpful to reflect on. It is so easy to fill our lives with too many things but as you say, if we want to really rely on God’s strength and hear him speak, we need to set aside time to properly listen. Also to focus on his truth so that it is louder than our fear.

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    1. Lesley, I’ve gone through times in my life where I filled my days with serving and busy-ness. God has been really challenging me to set aside that regular time to be with Him each day. And I love your final words: choosing to focus so much on His truth that it speaks louder than fear to my heart. May we both purpose to do this. 🙂

      Thank you so much for stopping by here today!

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  8. Jeanne,
    You’re asking some tough questions…good ones, but tough ones. I used to keep myself so busy because I thought that my worth was based on how much I accomplished and the better job I did, the more I was loved. Wrong! Now, in my schedule, I make time in His Word a non-negotiable. Before I would let reading the Bible easily slip out of the day’s activities. Now, I get it in early so that I have fuel to run on during the day. Isaiah 41:10 is my go to for fear. The Lord says do not fear, tells us why, and then reassures us that He will uphold us with His righteous right hand. Bottom line, I know God’s got me and He has the situation I’m fearing under control. I agree we need to replace fear with trust. Love this series…good stuff!
    Blessings,
    Bev

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    1. Bev, I fell into the busy-ness trap for the same reasons you did–to find worth and affirmation from it. I’ve been good about spending time in God’s word most days. But some days, that time didn’t open up until late in the afternoon. I’ve been working to re-establish an early (as in 4:30 a.m. some days!) time in His word. And then coming back and reading the devotions I enjoy later in the day). This school year has made it more challenging somehow. Not sure what’s different.

      And Isaiah 41:10 is one of my favorite verses. I’m so glad you mentioned it today. Thanks for your encouraging words!

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  9. I love these questions that prompt us to search our hearts, Jeanne. Chronic illness has set its limits on me, so I don’t deal with a hectic schedule. But I definitely deal with chaos in my thinking sometimes. Fear and doubt so easily creep in. Those lies from Satan sometime flood my mind. I have to daily remind myself of God’s truth and who I am in Him. And how in Him there is sufficient grace! Thank you for all your encouragement! Love and hugs!

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    1. Trudy, chronic illness has a way of forcing one to evaluate choices, doesn’t it? Creating white space in our thoughts, and guarding it, is crucial. You’re wise to remind yourself of God’s truths and who you are in Him. These have been immensely helpful for me too. Thanks for sharing what helps you! Love and hugs back. 🙂

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  10. Jeanne, I never really thought of power, love and a sound mind as gifts from God, but there it is: “God has not GIVEN us a spirit of fear, but of …” He knows what we need, doesn’t He? I Timothy 1:7 is one of my favorite verses, and now even more so! Count me in as someone who has avoided doing certain things–things I’ve felt clearly called to do, even–because of fear. I’ve wasted a lot of time, but lately, I’m believing that God will restore as I move forward with a project that has been on the back burner for far too long! Good, hard thoughts, my friend … I’m looking forward to next week’s post already. 🙂

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    1. Lois, 1 Tim 1:7 is a verse I come back to again and again too. I’m so glad God gives us what we need to not only survive this life, but to thrive. I’m also glad He gives us second (and third, and fourth, and so on) chances to do those things He’s given us to do. May we both move beyond fear this year with the projects we’re working on. I’m always glad when you stop by.

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  11. Jeanne, life’s been a little hectic lately. I’ve been cutting back in some areas. But the girls and I have been curling up at night under the covers together and reading through The New Testament in a year on my Bible Gateway app. It’s sweet time together. And boy, oh boy, do I need to purge this house … especially the girls’ rooms. We still have toys stashed away, and they are teens. 🙂

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    1. I love that you and your girls read the New Testament together! What beautiful lessons you’re teaching them, Shelli! I’m trying to purge my schedule too, in order to make time for the most important things. I wish I lived closer, I’d love to help you purge . . . nicely, of course. 😉

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  12. Thank you for these words.

    I am finishing my last semester of school right now (at the end of 5 years in college in which I have constantly made excuses to be always busy), hoping for rest to come when school is done. However, I’m beginning to realize that rest is a state of the heart rather than a situational state. If I am at rest in my soul, I can remain calm and at peace even in stressful situations. However, if I have a heart full of tension, fear, and worry, I will carry that with me no matter how peaceful my circumstances are, and I will begin to find stress and worry even in the most restful of situations. It is so hard to unlearn busyness, though. I have gradually reached a point of thinking that busyness and stress make me a more righteous person, and how I view myself has become wrapped up in that “righteousness.” I pretty much have not a clue how to just BE. It’s going to be a long road ahead: learning to value rest, making space, and appreciating the moment rather than fearing the future.

    I may start by reminding myself to create mental/ emotional space by first creating physical space in my life. Do you know of any good, practical resources for starting to clean out house/ simplify the “stuff” aspect of life?

    Thanks again for the beautiful, thought-provoking writing. 🙂

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    1. Ahhh, Becca. You are in a season of transition. And you are at a great time to really instill good habits into your life. You’re right. We must choose to rest in God. To not do this is to invite busy-ness (for all sorts of reasons!) to reign in our lives. We have to be intentional about our choices.

      Learning to BE is something I think we learn throughout our lives. In phases and layers. There are seasons when we will have a lot of activity. However, when we filter all that through God, through seeking His face first, then we can “BE” while still doing. It’s when we place more value on the doing (for this or that reason–usually for affirmation or recognition) that we get lost.

      Creating mental and emotional space is so wise! As for cleaning out house/simplifying the “stuff” aspect of life, there are a lot of resources out there. One blog place to begin is becomingminimalist.com You may find some things of value there. I’ll think on other resources and get back with you. Good for you in taking the first step in this journey: recognizing the need for change.

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