I am not sure if you had a chance to read my articles on “The Beautiful Exchange yet, but I’m sharing them here in my article/blog space because I believe it could really begin to impact your quality of life.
I learned something about prayer as a caregiver I had not experienced before – prayer can become your secret sleeping pill. Over years caring for my mom, I began to see how much of my emotional burdens would follow me when it was time to rest and sleep. For some it may seem obvious; after all, each of us has stress in our lives that can cause sleep challenges. While that may be true, the burdens caregivers carry can become quite intense. Particularly, the Dementia caregivers’ journey is a long one. It can endure years, even decades in this anticipatory grief process. In addition to giving care, within each of our lives we carry emotional, physical, and mental sensitives to more than we realize (i.e., a stressful crisis at work, unresolved conflict with a friend, conflict, loss, unexpected pressures from a project, finances, Covid, etc.) Becoming proficient managers of people and problems does not mean our feelings, thoughts, body are not being affected. Not all sleep is restful, not all resting brings restorative sleep. Now, I ask for your patience as I work though the stages of sharing the process. I promise I will get to the sleep part the restful experience I’m referring to hinges on a person’s starting point, and the capacity to connect intimately with our Father.
There are seven stages in this "beautiful exchange" with Christ. Through my upcoming articles, I hope to begin offering real help in understanding what causes our emotions to remain hostage - even hostages in hiding. I will share the reasons why prayer creates a pathway to unbind emotional burdens. I will guide you through the first two stages (breathing and releasing)
First, let’s remember, no matter what God may have called us to do, God never intended us to be Him; He’s the Savior – we are vessels. This means we were created to need Him. Our vessels are limited. To flourish fully - emotionally, mentally, and physically we need the antidotes He created for our restoration. Although I learned these principles deep in the throes of caregiving, no matter what burdening circumstances we find ourselves in, it still applies. Facing the realities of life and the stressors it places on the mind, body, and soul, need a pathway for release - an exchange between our limitations and God's unlimited resource. In the life of a Christ-Centered person, this is a supernatural exchange initiated through intentional time and intimate space with the Lord.
When I became focused dedicated time with the Lord, I started paying closer attention to my body and my breaths throughout the day. I was shocked to realize that it was not until after my mom went to bed that I really felt myself taking deep breaths. During the day my breaths were shallow, hurried, and unfocused (even when I wasn't engaged physically) Until I literally stopped and focused my mind on the Lord, I did not realize how I had been breathing. There is something quite miraculous about choosing to sit quietly in the presence of the Lord; not to make a demand, not to ask Him for something, but to simply BE WITH HIM. Listen to me though, prayer is not about conjuring up a holy voice, or contrived words – it is you coming raw, real, vulnerable, and open. It means sharing your honest sincere feelings and thoughts (the deepest spaces in your soul) with great expectancy that He hears you and will for come to you. The Lord is attracted to your heart. (1 Peter 5:7) His Word is a guide and assurance of His promise to quickly move supernaturally on our behalf.
It starts with breathing. How does this look? I find my quiet, safe secret-place (usually in my closet) I sit down in a comfortable position usually my dogs follow me, and I start with DEEP BREATHS. I breathe seven to ten deep breaths with my eyes closed – deep deep breaths in from the nostrils with your mouth closed. Then deep exhales out from the mouth. This is when I realized how shallow my breathing had been all day. Stress causes compromised breathing. Deep breathing creates more oxygen flow to the brain and the heart. The more we generate oxygen, the calmer we invite into our soul. As our breathing shifts, so does the brain. As the brain changes so goes the focus in our mind. The process cannot be rushed. Think of it this way, when you want to truly spend time with someone you love, is that most fulfilling to you when it's rushed or when time is taken to truly be present with them. Breathing deeply prepares us to move from an earthly realm (where all our problems and pressures are) to a Spiritual realm - where Christ lives. Breathing is the gateway to our capacity to speak more accurately about our feelings. Next, RELEASING...
In the meantime, I'm inviting you to listen to a clip from my dear friend Pianist Mary Camiolo. I pray her music blesses you with calm and assurance exactly where your heart may need it.