My first thought is I don’t take enough time to renew my spirit. This is readily noticeable when I am anxious, cranky, competitive, dull, or self-consumed. When I do make time for my spirit, I am in some way and on some scale, transformed. The sun shines brighter, life’s challenges appear to be opportunities in disguise, and I am more inclined to notice the positive attributes in the people around me, as opposed to the negative ones.
So what are the ways of renewal? For me, I notice they all involve two key ingredients. The first is separation. I must separate myself from social media, my to-do lists, family responsibilities, and other fun pursuits. This separation is often physical, involving me going to a place where I can be alone. (Sigh. That aloneness can be so refreshing.) The refuge could be a local forest, but sometimes it is my basement, or a nearby cafe. The key is simply to get away with no other agenda than the renewal of my spirit.
The second key ingredient is connection. I separate to connect. I temporarily cut off the necessary devotion to family or profession so I can connect with my Heavenly Father. I read passages of scripture, listen to songs, meditate on verses, or read insights from others pursuing connection with Him. I sit an rest in His presence. I present requests. I make complaints. I ask for forgiveness. Through this authentic give and take, I connect.
Although my busy choices don’t always reflect it, my soul yearns for this connection. It puts everything in perspective, scale, and priority. When I connect with Him, I begin to connect with my core beliefs and values. I connect with the love I have for my wife and kids. I connect with the passion I have for my students. I connect with the reason I pursue fitness, writing, or other personal outlets.
And I get visions.
Not prophetic visions of angels escorting me places, but visions of how my talents or gifts could be used to help others. Visions of how to help or encourage the people that have been written on my heart. Visions of how to inspire others to make their own connections to the Father.
These ideas spur me on to action. They cause me to read further, love deeper, hug longer, listen more intently, ask more thoughtfully, and appreciate more completely. The ideas connect me to purpose, people, and passions.
So I disappear at times, to be more present. I separate, so I can connect. If my family or friends notice my presence; if they feel encouragement or inspiration from my words or actions; I hope those words and actions honor my Father who gives me a vision for the life He has in store for me. The Father who allows me to connect with Him, even when I can be separate for so long. The Father who renews my spirit.