The 7 Pauses

One of my biggest frustrations in life is what I call being “leaky.”  No, I don’t have a problem with peeing my pants. (at least not yet) What I mean is this…  Since I was a 9 year old girl I have been on the journey of following Christ.  While I have had many ups and downs and struggles along the way, I learned fairly early about spiritual disciplines.  Between youth group, church camps, and mentors, I heard loud and clear that spiritual food and exercise was needed for growth.

So while I certainly haven’t done it perfectly, I have established a practice of reading God’s Word and talking to Jesus personally most mornings.  I don’t know how other Christ-followers survive without it.  Its water to my soul, time with my best friend, and a conduit for the Holy Spirit to fill me with hope and direction for the day.

My mornings often start off well as I meditate on truth and feel God’s nearness.  The problem hits anytime between 3-9pm when my spiritual batteries start to run low.  I long to be patient, loving, and continue in the morning pattern of hope and truth.  I find all the Jesus seems to slowly leak out of me like the deflating of a balloon.  By bedtime a new mom has emerged that doesn’t resemble that peaceful person sitting at the feet of Jesus in the morning.  I don’t like her. She isn’t nice.  Her fuse is short.

I wake the next day repenting and reconnecting with my Savior but unhappy with this pattern.  Several years ago I read a book called Emotionally Healthy Spirituality.  The author addressed this same issue in one of the chapters and referred to a practice of monks called the Daily Office.  These were set times they would pray and read Psalms to realign their thoughts and hearts with God.

I thought, “What a great idea!” and then sadly never implemented any of the resources or suggestions.  Then this summer I read a book titled, 7 by Jen Hatmaker.  This time I read alongside an amazing group of women and we met together to talk about changes we wanted to make in our lives.

The chapter that struck me the most related very much to a practice similar to the Daily Office.  Jen referenced a book called Seven Sacred Pauses: Living Mindfully Through the Hours of the Day by Macrina Wiederkehr.  The simple gist is to stop seven times throughout the day to pray, reflect, meditate on or read a passage of Scripture.  I’m keeping it simple, planning just to stop for about five minutes to focus.

While I’ve only been at it for a few days, I can’t begin to tell you what a difference its made. Crazy mean mom hasn’t been appearing at bedtime as much.  A few of the benefits so far have been:

  • My thought life is slowly shifting (less worry and unforgiveness, more prayer and compassion for others)
  • Peace, hope, and joy replacing fear, people pleasing, and hurry

It certainly hasn’t been perfect, but it has been better.  So what are these seven pauses and when do I do them? Here is my version that is taken from the concepts in Wiederkehr’s book:

  • 7am – Awakening  – Focus on God’s goodness.  What needs to awaken in me today? Forgiveness, love for others, productivity, rest?
  • 10am – Blessing – 2 things to meditate on: The Holy Spirit’s presence and the work He has set out for me on this day.  I am seeing even menial tasks as sacred when done for God’s glory.
  • Noon – Illumination – Being a light. Think about ways to serve and give hope to others.
  • 3pm – Wisdom – Perspective on the shortness of life – what will really matter in the end? Themes for this pause are surrender, forgiveness, and wisdom.
  • 6pm – Twilight – Gratitude.  Thanking God as we transition from work to rest.
  • 10pm – Great Silence- A prayer to conclude the day taking time to evaluate what the day has held: strengths, weaknesses, and accomplishments.
  • Midnight (or middle of the night) – Night Watch – prayers offered for those suffering in this world.

In order to really take advantage of these pauses I made one other change to try out just for this month.  I deleted my Facebook app from my phone and have decided to check email and FB only twice a day – morning and night.  With my handy phone, I found myself constantly checking email and scrolling through the lives of others on FB.  This was distracting me from connecting with God in those moments.  I’m certainly not giving up email and FB, but because of my overuse, I’m setting some limits for myself.

So now that I’ve blogged it – I welcome your accountability and questions as I attempt to keep the Jesus in me from leaking out by bedtime tonight.

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