Some mornings, my inner critic wakes up with me. As I eat my breakfast, my first thoughts appear auto-populated by what I “should’ve-would’ve-could’ve” done.
Instead of songs of deliverance surrounding me like the psalmist wrote about, my mind becomes filled with a noisy parade of troubling thoughts—regrets over what I wasn’t doing well, relationships that had turned hurtful, and indecisions tearing at my soul.
Why are you obsessing about things you have no control over? I lecture myself. Stop worrying about nothing. What’s wrong with you? I beat myself up, and I haven’t even finished my first cup of coffee.
I pray and read Scripture, but my heart doesn’t feel right. One morning, I tried to forget my troubles by diving into my emails. On the outside, all was good, but being hard on myself wasn’t what I needed.
What I need when I’m stuck in negative self-talk is God’s kindness and gentleness.
The world teaches us to quiet our inner critic by striving, networking with people of influence, and working very hard to be valued, find belonging, and acceptance.
But God’s way of restoring the soul is very quiet: real experiences of beauty, gentleness, and kindness.
We need two fruits of the Spirit: gentleness and kindness.
Later in the afternoon, I drove out to my favorite trail and stood quietly by the creek, listening to water bubbling over rocks and pebbles. Without any words, I felt God’s gentle love hold my heart.
My soul exhaled, and as the sun warmed my heart again, I heard God tenderly whisper, “You are safe with me. You are important to me.”
God draws us closer, saying, “I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love; With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself” (Jeremiah 31:3).
In a quiet place of beauty, my heart opened up. I shared my honest feelings with God—not trying to solve them but to confide in him.
Being in nature soothes us and gives us permission to slow down.
We observe how everything organic undergoes changes in different seasons, and we instinctively relax our shoulders and exhale.
As the breeze brushes our cheeks, we feel a softening. We notice how everything beautiful moves in quietness.
It was only there by the creek, only after I took the steps to enjoy something beautiful to refresh me, that my heart experienced God’s songs of deliverance.
Many times, we try to lecture ourselves out of a tough situation, but God’s gentle voice is always found in places of quiet beauty and intimacy.
Don’t be harder on yourself. Be gentle with yourself. God’s love is gentle.
*For further reflection, listen to Jeremiah 31 today.
- Jeremiah 31
Excerpted with permission from Breathe by Bonnie Gray published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon, 97408. Copyright 2023, Bonnie Gray. harvesthousepublishers.com
*Please enjoy our conversation with Bonnie here!