by Collette Broady Grund
So, this morning, I put myself in time out.
There’s a worship space in one of the classrooms at church, with a small table, candle and cross. I parked myself in front of it, lighting that focusing flame, and opened my Bible. My focus Scripture was:
“For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified.” 1 Corinthians 2:2, New Living Translation
Knowing Paul to be more disciplined than me, I resolved to try for 20 minutes to forget everything except Christ crucified. Setting my timer, I took a deep breath and entered this self-imposed exile. “Jesus, let me forget everything but you.”
I made it through three deep breaths before I remembered five things that I needed to add to my to-do list. I breathed again and felt the weight of this week’s failure descend upon me, taking my focus from Christ crucified to self-flagellation. I drew breath again, this time shakily as tears threatened, and I drowned the busyness in my head with a mantra: “Christ crucified, Christ crucified, Christ crucified.”
The next 10 minutes passed so slowly that I was sure I was at 20, and I took a peek at the timer. Nope, not done yet. Breathing again, I stayed where I was and waited it out. When the chimes finally sounded, I felt relief. Clearly it is my own racing mind and wandering heart that need crucifixion so I can focus on Jesus alone.
I was reminded at a leadership class that “the mystery and paradox of [leading from the soul] is that you can’t do it by yourself. The best we can do is create the conditions for the Holy Spirit to do her work.”
This morning’s attempt to create those conditions was only slightly successful. However, I’m convinced that spiritual leadership takes practice–like being an accomplished musician or superior athlete.
Putting myself in time out is one way I can open space for the Spirit to speak into my cluttered life. My silent desperation is one place Jesus works best, even if it is painful.
So, tomorrow I will try again. I will sit and light a candle in hope that my silence will grow more restful and grounding. I will trust that by trying to forget everything but Christ crucified I will more easily remember who I am meant to be.
Collette Broady Grund is a pastor and mission developer, a mom and stepmom, a widow and a writer. She lives in Mankato, Minnesota where she is the co-director of Connections Ministry, an ecumenical homeless shelter, and one of the founding pastors of the synodically authorized worshipping community called Shelter Church. She also recently published The Grief Lectionary, a six session resource using Scripture to access and process grief. The resource and her writing is available at www.collettebroadygrund.com
Would you like to put yourself into adult time out? Try our free resource, Sacred Spaces, a guide to creating a personal sacred space.
A version of this blog post first appeared on the Women of the ELCA blog in 2016.