Being present in our bodies

Happy Friday everyone! I had a few threads of thoughts converge for me this week from a blog post, a book I’m reading, and our discussion at life group on Jacob wrestling with God. I thought I’d just give you the gist:

1. Genesis 32:22-31 – Our discussion questions for this week asked why we thought God decided to physically wrestle with Jacob rather than to just talk to him. I had never thought about this but it brought back everything I’ve read about how much more we learn by doing rather than just by hearing/reading. Our beliefs are shaped by our practices – actions influence thoughts as much as or perhaps even more than thoughts influence actions.

It made me see that Jacob’s physical experience of struggling for control for an entire night and finally having to surrender probably had significantly more impact on his life than God just coming and saying “You need to trust me and let go of your own need to strategise about everything.” Fascinating, eh? It’s a lesson he learned in his body. And I’m betting he never forgot it either.

Experiences last in our memories so much longer than lectures. But we have to be present in the moment to learn them too. Jacob couldn’t exactly ignore another man physically fighting him, but I think for us, we often can ignore our own experiences that are trying to teach us something.

2. One Small Change: One LESS Thing – This blog post was so encouraging for me because I sometimes feel like this is my life right now and I felt encouraged to embrace it being this way! I’m not that busy but somehow I get busy every week. And I’ve realized over and over how many last minute things I say yes to because I am available. Sometimes, it does start feeling hectic but often I’m so glad “that worked out” and that I went ahead and answered that phone call, babysat or had a playdate or went to lunch etc. It’s another thing that helps me be present with people instead of living in my head.

3. The Lost Art of Lingering – I’m reading this book on Kindle (it’s a link to Amazon) and it is a great book on mutual mentoring (basically the idea that both people will learn from each other). The last chapter I read was on the simple practice of actually meeting together. The author also talks about how important it is to shut off distractions and be 100% in the present when you meet for mutual mentoring. He mentioned in passing how we can fill calendars up so quickly that we don’t leave room for these relationships that are really pivotal for our growth.

What I liked best about that blog post is that it’s about removing stuff from your life rather than adding something to the “to-do” list (note that Jacob was entirely alone when God shows up. He had sent his whole family and possessions across the river without him). How much do we try to cram all kinds of meaningful activities into your life because we don’t really want to do the waiting, listening and noticing part? How do we clear room to breathe and hear and follow our calling, not the hundred callings that everyone else expects. In the end, it boils down to paying attention – using our physical senses to raise our awareness and live a little more intentionally.

Why does it sound so easy and yet remain so hard?