Have you ever paid attention to your stream of consciousness first thing in the morning?
I’m not a brain scientist, but I’ve been observing my own patterns. For me, there seem to be different levels of memory-recall at play.
Today, for instance, I woke up knowing it was Monday. I knew where I was, when I was, and what I needed to do before school.
Then there are those other days. Ones where I emerge from a thick sleepy fog with nothing but the knowledge that I exist. The facts form up gradually.
I’m next to my husband. I am at home. I have kids and they are sleeping.
Even if it is a groggy “what year is it?” type of morning, these facts upload pretty quickly. Next, the details of my day begin to load and I take stock of my current situation.
Today is a school day. What a weird dream I just had. My back hurts. We need a new mattress. I should take a shower. Ooh, I need to remember my eye doctor appointment this afternoon.
The speed of this process seems to fluctuate. Traveling can throw a me for a loop. So can newly acquired facts. For example, fourteen years ago I added a new fact rather suddenly. I found out I was pregnant. Early on, it would take a minute before I remembered my condition.
Oh yeah, I’m pregnant!
The thought would flood in, filling my mind with the implications it carried with it. (Next would come the realization that I needed to eat as soon as possible.) I’ve always had a bit of jet lag when it comes to remembering new facts.
Oh right, I’m in a dorm room.
I have to go to work.
I have hungry children and they need me.
Our moment of disorientation doesn’t mean that those facts aren’t true. It merely points to the nature of how our minds work. Just because something is important doesn’t guarantee we immediately remember it.
The Fact of God’s Presence
While I recall the details that make up my life, there is a sacred fact to remember. It is one that colors all the rest and carries unfathomable implications. Yes, I am a wife, a mom, a thirty-eight year old girl trying to pull off adulthood. But there’s another fact that acts as an umbrella to all the rest, if I can only remember to open it.
God is with me.
Not only is He omnipresent, but, as His children, His Spirit dwells within us. We are literally surrounded inside and out by the presence of God.
So why do we feel alone?
I will admit, I often forget His presence. I get out of bed, start my day, and live my life completely oblivious to the communion available to me.
But I also forget that there are stars above the blue sky.
I forget my own heartbeat. I know that I have one, but I don’t usually feel it until I pause and remember.
Knowing God is present and feeling His presence are not the same thing, but they are related.
Communion with God begins with realizing His nearness.
I don’t have to remember that God is with me for it to be true, but developing an awareness of His presence brings a comfort I can barely put into words. It settles my anxious heart and gives me the freedom to breathe.
Not long after waking, I am usually flooded with another round of “facts.” Only this time, they are comprised of unresolved conflict, unprocessed feelings, and unhealthy thought ruts. These thoughts masquerade as confident truths.
Remember that thing you said yesterday to that person? They probably took it wrong and think you are the worst. You haven’t posted a blog post in almost three weeks. People are going to think you are either disinterested or inept. Also, your laundry is all over the floor. That clearly means your life is out of control. Again.
In this moment, I have a pivotal choice to make. I need to do something with these surfacing thoughts. Historically, I have simply tucked them into my back pocket and carried them with me into my day.
But to be honest, that is a horrible plan. They are not harmless thoughts, they are corrosive thoughts. They breed discontentment and hostility. They taint my interactions with my dearest people. And they underscore the entire day, like an obnoxious background noise you can’t manage to tune out.
So what do we do with them?
First, we remember the presence of God. Then we let the implications of that fact wash over our anxious hearts.
If God is with us, then why should we carry our worries one more step?
Worrying is like shouldering a heavy bag around in our home. We simply don’t need to. We can set it down. We don’t have to carry it anymore.
God has made us His home. He’ll take care of it. He will help us sort through the garbage and keep only what is true and useful. We can lay out our problems in the presence of an omnipotent God, trading them for His peace and simple direction.
A New Lifestyle
This exchange takes time.
We live in a hustle-bustle world, one that rewards productivity and momentum. Pausing to surrender our worries to the Lord is not just a necessary break in our busy schedule. It is the lifestyle of a child of God.
As a morning Bible-reader, I can fool myself into thinking I have checked off the Communion with God box for the day, freeing me to move on to the next thing. Then I wonder why I digress after I leave my bedroom. How deeply I miss the point.
God is with us at all times.
Communion with God is about developing an awareness of His presence and keeping an open and ongoing conversation with the Lover of our soul.
What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear.
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer.
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer.
Joseph Medlicott Scriven (1855)