After There’s Nothing Left: resting your mind, body, & emotions

lonely-feeling-wait-tranquility-royalty-free-thumbnailAspects of Rest— (mind, body, physical, emotional, a person in community)

How do you rest your mind? How do you rest your body? What about your emotions, your sense of individuality, and your social relationships? Let’s look at these various aspects of Rest individually—

  1. RESTING YOUR MIND.Resting your mind does NOT mean you stop thinking! God forbid! Unless, of course, that is all you do, 24/7. Resting your mind may involve reading in a genre totally different from your normal sustenance. Try a science magazine. Racial justice, or political speculation? Switch to fiction, fantasy, or even a sports magazine. While we’re at it…, obsessed with sports? Take a breath…, w-a-l-k a-w-a-y! (This may require medicinal, medical, or mental assistance.)  Delving into an area of thought totally foreign to your field of interest can free your mind to make connections you might otherwise miss. Tunnel-vision will  creep into all our ways, given enough time.

There is a field of study known as Synectics. Ever hear of it? It is the application of the principles of one field of study to the problems faced in another field of study. Getting outside your box, resting your mind, may be just the thing the doctor ordered. Most of us never grow inside our own boxes; we just think we do. To have our field-of-focus sharpened it is absolutely necessary to be a part of something of a totally divergent character. Like bridge design & ocean surfing, or homemaking and marksmanship.

  1. RESTING YOUR BODY. Ceasing all exercise is not the answer. Curtailing, moderating, working on another body part, etc., are much preferable to becoming a couch potato(e). Besides, any sudden STOP in exercise can have serious consequences for your overall health. For some of us, exercise is what keeps us going, gives us stamina, makes us strong. It is an intrinsic part of our everyday routine. We would feel sluggish without it. But for others, exercising can feel like a hundred pound albatross draped around our neck, dragging us to exhaustion. For this latter person, starting an exercise program might be the way to rest their body. Lack of exercise is not rest; nor is it sloth. We do not rest our bodies by stopping. We rest our bodies by balancing feeding, what we put into it, with exertion, what we ask of it. But I will never discount the value of just lying on some tropical beach in the Caribbean waiting for that pineapple drink thing with the umbrella in it. Just don’t lie there too long.
  2. RESTING YOUR EMOTIONS. Resting the emotions is simpler for some of us than for others. Some of us barely allow our emotions near the surface of our daily lives; thus, forcing them deeper within. They still churn away, to be sure: we may be aware of it— we may not. Some of us do not want to be in touch with our emotions. Too unruly; easier to merely retain them on the surface and maintain our inner composure. But that can only take you so far. In my work as a counselor I have witnessed those moments when deep emotions have been exposed for the first time: amazement, anger, elation, Ah-ha!, rage, sorrow, collapse, restoration…, all come to expression in one form or another to connect a person’s inner world with their outer world. People leave my office with a new sense of resolution about them. Not that everything is, in fact, resolved; but it has turned a corner. I love corners.

Resting your emotions involves giving up resentments, past wounds, and that inner tumult that wracks your heart on a regular basis. To a quite serious degree, if you are to rest your soul, you must bring some degree of resolution to those things that churn & turn within. In the Bible, God admonishes us, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:18)  So, do what you can; but be advised that some of the resolution you seek may never come. Then, you must learn to live with it. That is the stark reality.

  1. RESTING YOUR PERSON IN CONTEXT. All of us live in a context; that is, we have a rubric of relationships that we classify in various categories— home, family, work associates, “buddies,” girlfriends, fellow sports enthusiasts, computer nerd groups, gamers, fellow Christians, etc.  We do this to manage our relationships, to keep them straight…, and to keep them separate.

There are also some people in our life who fit into these quite extreme categories.

  1. Truly Special People. These people are always there for us. OR, They have influenced us is significant ways. We need them in our lives; and we most definitely want them there.
  2. Quite Exasperating People.  These are people who want you to always be there for them. You are not important— they are. Given the opportunity, they will drain you of every ounce of your energy…, and then they will ask for more. Unless they are paying you, avoid this lot! You have neither time nor enough strength for them.

[For a more exhaustive delineation I refer you to Gordon MacDonald’s Restoring Your Spiritual Passion. It’s not easy to find.]

      Resting your Person-in-context involves a separation of yourself from some, if not all, relational communities for a time of aloneness. We ALL are so over-contexted in this hyperventilated life-pace we try to maintain.  Be still…, remember?

Honour God, honour people, make a difference,


Dr. Gary Davis, President

NEXT— Solutions— part 4, more Unpacking Soul Rest.

After There’s Nothing Left: Soul Rest – Pt 1

rest chairMy soul needs rest. It is not weary from being wounded; from those arrows it merely feels the inflicted pain and bears healing scars that eventually fade away. No, my soul needs rest from constantly putting out while not taking in enough. To be sure I am to blame for this imbalance: it is every true Christian’s task to provide soul sustenance for their own life-walk and personal growth. But I have this tendency to run ahead of myself. Thus, the need for soul rest.

Three places where I find my soul rests are at a Lakehouse on Newfound Lake in New Hampshire, on top of Pikes Peak (14,115’), and at Jenny Lake, in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. In Wyoming I breathe easier; my heart-beat slows. On Pikes Peak, near our home in Colorado, I am alone with God. I am invigorated! In New Hampshire I sit on the lake-dock and watch ducks land, studying the intricacies within the ripples of the water as the wind blows across its surface.

I need to get to these places more often.

Your soul probably needs rest as well. The hectic pace of our lives, whether urban or rural, has grown much more frantic since the industrial revolution of the late 19th century— more so in these early decades of the 21st century. Much of the machinery and technology designed to make our lives easier has not made them simpler. We are a more complex species today than when we entered the 20th century. There will be, to be sure, more discoveries and technological inventions in the future that will again make our lives “easier.” But will we have any more time to spend with friends, family, or even God? Will we be able to take the time we need to provide the kind of rest our souls will need to stand up to the challenges of this new cultural shift?

Defining Soul Rest

      Before you jump to your feet and yell, “It’s simple! You just need to stop! Get alone and rest. Your soul will follow suit.”  allow me to describe some of the factors you might want to consider.

  • Is soul rest for an Introvert the same as it would be for an Extrovert?
  • Is soul rest easier for a Type A (organized, controlled) or a Type B (more relaxed, flexible) person? And what about a Type C person (combination)?
  • How do you know if you are genuinely resting or merely following someone else’s formula? (A Spiritual Director’s prescription.)
  • How long does it take to get to soul rest?
  • When will you know you have had enough?

Hopefully, these peripheral considerations have demolished any simplistic view of soul rest you may have held. Finding rest for your soul is no simple matter. And these peripheral considerations become more central to our definition than is immediately apparent. Your personality and temperament have more to do with your soul than you might imagine.

Returning to the task at hand, defining soul restWell, at least MY Definition

            Soul Rest 1) the complete relaxation of the soul; resulting in the cessation of struggle and conflict within; 2) a coming apart from daily activities to a quiet place for reflection, refreshment, and rest; 3) any activity which provides one’s soul with a release from this world’s worries and cares— any activity that first rests one’s soul, then enlivens it.

      A definition such as this leaves considerable open-endedness to the mind and much to be desired. Let’s unpack it. Read on.

Honour God, honour people, make a difference,
Dr. Gary Davis, President

NEXT— Solutions— part 2, Unpacking Soul Rest.

bah! humbug!

Why is it that some people just seem to get out of bed grumpy? Admittedly, I am not the most social a person until I have a cup of coffee in me; or two, or three. OK, I can tolerate conversation on one. But there are some people who wake up to make their day, and yours, miserable.

For some it is seasonal. Seasonal Affective Disorder— the darkness becomes overwhelming; the depression spirals downward. For others it is far more serious; for a cluster of historical and/or environmental reasons their life itself is miserable. For some personal reason they believe it their responsibility to pass their wretched state along to all they meet. O joy!

Though it can be true that this perpetually dark mood can be due to hereditary, it is not true that that it is irrevocable. There have been those who have come to me for counsel who have revealed their consistent struggle with a sense of failure and depression; some, even to a point of desperation, longing for relief. In an earlier phase of life my wife would often describe my personality as morbidly introspective. And she was right. My depression and external moods were deeply rooted in failure.

What did I do to claw my way out of this perpetual Bah Humbug!?

  1. First, I gave up trying to please or impress others. I simply started living within the parameters of my gifts, skills, and passions. I developed and expressed my strengths and addressed my weaknesses in privacy.
  2. Then, secondly, I stopped using others to feed me and started to feed them. I became the vessel of service in their lives rather than always calling on them to empty themselves for my sake.
  3. In a couple months I found I could laugh more. I kept laughing. There is always a tad of joy and comedy is almost every situation.
  4. My conversations with God became less intense, and more receptive. I accepted His forgiveness in Jesus Christ and laid aside the roiling guilt that added to my failure and depression.
  5. To my shock I discovered that there were some people who actually enjoyed being my friends. This surprised me. I shifted to enjoyment in our friendship rather than making them about me.

I know there were probably a number of conscious and unconscious things that went on in that period of my life. But it sure feels great to no longer carry around my own inner Scrooge.

Have a nice week,



Most of us spend a good part of our lives untangling knots. Marriage knots, business knots, financial knots, teenage knots, new baby knots, change of location knots, unfulfilled dream knots, depression knots, communication knots, engineering knots, philosophical knots…, and the list goes on and on. I just stayed in a friend’s guest house and had to untangle the window blind knots to get them to work properly. Unless you are a problem solver by nature (and some of us are) knots are frustrating.

More often than knot (sorry) disentangling life’s’ knots ties us up in knots. Our stomach churns, gut tightens, heart beats faster, emotions are on edge; and we live inside a silent tension between turbulence and resolve. Yet externally, as far as others are able to see, we are an image of a peaceful garden on a warm summer day. Or maybe not. Deep knots move from our insides to tie us up inside and out. That makes other people r-e-a-l-l-y worried. Nonetheless, life’s knots + stomach knots = a really bad feeling of being out of control.

Let’s look at that control issue a bit. There are many times throughout our lives where we are, truly, NOT in control. We either lose control, others have or take control over us, especially in employment situations, or we have no idea as to how to maintain or regain control. The place to start is not with words or actions that demand we be given control once again but rather how we deal with not being in control.

It becomes a matter of trust, safety, and confidence. If you always panic at every situation, you need to take hold of yourself.  Learn to stop the panic or it will kill you. That is when establishing a modicum of trust is critical. Not that you necessarily trust those who lord their control over you, but rather that you learn to trust in the God who made you. He does, after all, have your best interest at heart. Safety starts there, in the arms of God, then moves to confidence. If you have a sense that God is in control, you can rest more comfortably that you do not need to be. True, you need to exercise your abilities within your area of expertise, within your confidence level; but if your confidence is in your own skills, your own abilities, exclusively, WATCH OUT! You are headed for a fall.

Many of our inner knots are indeed products of the plethora of knots we endeavor to untangle in our daily lives and work. But dare I say that many of the knots, internal and external, could be untied if we just learned how to trust in the God who made us. Maybe we need a bumper-sticker that reads—

Live responsibly— Trust God

Ergo, knots untangled. Jus’ sayin’.

Have a nice week,


The Search for Sloth

Def. – sloth (noun)

1. habitual disinclination to exertion; indolence; laziness.

2. any of several slow-moving, arboreal, tropical American edentates of the family Bradypodidae, having a long, coarse, grayish-brown coat often of a greenish cast caused by algae, and long, hooklike claws used in gripping tree branches while hanging or moving along in a habitual upside-down position. []

I’ve never actually seen a sloth. Have you? I have wondered how they might feel about having one of the Seven Deadly Sins named after them. And what’s up with their hanging upside-down to do just about everything!?! Perpetual preteens?

We seem to be evolving into a society of sloth. Do as little as possible to get by. Move slowly so the work will last. Or, “this isn’t in my department.” Don’t exert yourself too much. Couch potatoes. Remote controls. Automatic this & that. Even doors that open when we approach them. Pre-cooked meals at the grocery store. If we continue on this path we will become a society that has forgotten how to DO, let alone how to THINK.

When asked a question some of us immediately respond, “I don’t know.”  Though we might actually know, it is just easier to respond that we don’t so we will not have to put our mind in gear to think about an answer. Too much effort. Just let it slide; somebody else can put up the effort. At least “Huh?” implies a modicum of feigned attention.

We seem constantly to be in search of the easiest way to do things, demanding the least possible effort on our part. Too many of us cannot wait to get out of work, to get home, to do…— nothing. Of course, we would never define ourselves as slothful; we’re just relaxing. As a nation, we seem to be doing it more and more and more. Complacency reigns.

By now you should be genuinely depressed, disgusted, and even angry at these accusations. Good! You’re ticked off! Now prove me wrong. I’d be tickled pink.

That’s enough energy expended for one day. (Yawn!)

Have a nice week,