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Are You Stuck in Mind-racing or Rumination? Adopt 4 Simple Rhythms!

Few of us relish the idea of surrender, implying defeat, loss, or weakness. Victory, its antithesis, a much-preferred chant or stance, signifies strength, prowess, and cunning. I prefer victory, thank you!

But recently, I’ve felt I’m being stripped of any fragments of strength and stability, like little pieces of my soul disintegrating into piles of ash as the day’s shadows grow long.

Yet as I reflect on what God repeatedly puts in front of me, colors coalesce into blurry images—at first. 

In my bones, I know it’s for my good. The blurry figures transform slowly:

  • Surrender
  • Obedience 
  • Crucified with Christ

Also known as self-denial – it brings abundant life: 

  • Wholeness
  • Connection
  • Joy
  • Peace
  • Freedom

Why is it so hard to live light, free, and joy-filled? Because every fiber of my being recoils at the idea of surrender. 


But thankfully, my Good Shepherd pursues me with loving, fierce passion. And this week is no exception. Everywhere I’ve turned, surrender stealthily solicits my attention. 

The last several days of my devotional, Sacred Breath, 40 Days of Centering Prayer,  were part of a section entitled Letting Go:

  • Letting go of anger
  • Detachment
  • Emptied
  • Selfless 

Additionally, the past few sermons at church rang the victory bells of surrender.

Depleted, I prayed: God, you have my attention; help me understand and move forward in the discernment and wisdom of the Spirit. 

The devotional author, almost sensing my soul’s tug-of-war, stated,

The blanket of divine love enfolds us with all the support we need. David Muyskens

I felt God’s love coming to my rescue. And with His divine intervention, God provided additional truths:

Muyskens introduced Father Thomas Keating’s concept of the false self and true self. The false self desires control, security, and affection. The true self, like God, is unselfish, loving and forgiving.

Struggling with guilt and shame regarding my resistance to surrender, I’ve frequently asked God where it comes from. 

It’s my false self—like knarled hands grasping for feigned control!

Muyskens continues, The powers of evil don’t want us to pray and attempt to distract us… This can lead to discouragement, anger, greed, and selfishness.

Letting go of thoughts avoids these pitfalls.

This is where I get stuck; I’m in my head. My mind races endlessly, despite learning practices in counseling to overcome rumination. 

Rumination is the byproduct of desire gone rogue: control, security, affection, comfort. In short: my way. 

Don’t get me wrong; these desires are not all bad. But when I make them ultimate desires, selfishness becomes my default.

Realizing the stranglehold of the false self, C.S. Lewis profoundly stated,

God wants to give us something but cannot, because our minds are full—there’s nowhere for Him to put it

Helping me let go of what’s ultimately gripping me, Jesus’ mercy rushes to my rescue, and I find grace to help in time of need.

I inhabit God’s glorious Kingdom most fully when I let go. Muyskens calls this self-donation, which propels me towards the abundant, free life Jesus offers.

Finally, the grand finale of surrender was in yoga class. Mentioning surrender multiple times, the instructor ended class with a short visualization she entitled The 4 Sanctuaries:

  • Silence
  • Solitude
  • Stillness
  • Simplicity

I immediately felt the quickening of the Spirit. Realizing that the 4 sanctuaries appear throughout Scripture, I asked God to help me put it all together:

1. Silence

O God…to you even silence is praise! Psl.65:1 

2. Solitude

But Jesus often slipped away from them and went into the wilderness to pray. Mark 1:35

3. Stillness

Surrender your anxiety. Be still and realize I am God. Psl:46:10

4. Simplicity

God took great delight in baffling the wisdom of the world by using the simplicity of preaching the story of the cross… 1 Cor.1:21b

With this now clear, vibrant portrait of surrender, I’ve been trying to find space to dwell in the 4 sanctuaries. 

  • A walk in the early morning
  • 5 minutes of Centering Prayer
  • Streamlining routines for simplicity

Chaos and distraction are the enemies of togetherness with God. Is there one practice you can engage in this week to seek God in the 4 sanctuaries? 

Maybe reading a few Scriptures or a few moments of Centering Prayer? God promises to meet us in our internal—or external— chaos. No matter where we are, He waits for us. 

Let’s empty our hands for God to put His good gifts into and find some space this summer in His 4 sanctuaries! 

For You alone my soul waits in silence;
from the Beloved comes my salvation.
Enfolding me with strength and steadfast love,
my faith remains firm.

Yet how long will fear rule my life, 
holding me in its grip,
like a trembling child,

a dark and lonely grave?

Fear keeps me from living fully,
from sharing my gifts;
It takes pleasure in imprisoning my soul.

Fear pretends to comfort,
so long has it dwelled with me;

truly it is my enemy.

For You alone, my soul waits in silence;
my hope is from the Beloved.   

Nan C Merrill, inspired by Psalm 62

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