I’ve been thinking about mindfulness these days. Every time I pull behind a familiar 4Runner, I giggle over these words on a bumper sticker: “Midwives Help People Out” and then I consider soberly these words on a second decal: “Embrace Mindfulness.”
A few months ago our three year began telling stories. In an effort to help tiny-kids understand the difference between truth and fiction, we gently probe their first lies with the question, “is this what really happened, or are you telling Mama a story?” And if it is a story, we try to help them see the difference between truth and lies. A story that you make up, we say, can be wonderful. But it not appropriate to use as a substitute for truth. Make up all the stories you want, little girl. But when I ask you a question, or you are speaking of what really has or must take place, you give me a truthful, accurate response. In your fact telling, tell the facts. Be transparent. Let your story be real.
Now that I am an adult I find the temptation is no longer to fictionalize a story and tell it entirely in place of the truth. I instead bump up against a kind of myth that sits close enough to the truth to appear real, but actually only scratches the surface.
This myth is the failure to live out of the deepest place of my heart, which amounts to the failure to live the truest part of my God-written story.
Mindfulness, as I understand it, is intentional slowness, stillness, pause. It is dwelling deeply in the moment, deep enough to take stock of our hearts.
If we fail to think and choose and step with purpose, if we fail to live frankly and authentically out of the truth of who God is–and in Him, who we are–we may manage to Do All The Things (as my little 4-year-old friend Alana might say) and still weave of our hearts a very false tapestry. We will live an abridged version of what is meant to be classic, hearty tale.
It is easy for me to forget how to live the True Story. So much of my life is filled up with the important but oh-so-mundane tasks of motherhood. I grow weary or distracted and often cannot remember how the Real Story is penned. It is hard to live mindfully. It is hard to be prudent, innocent, joyful, wise.
How do I respond mindfully to our three year old when she is defiant for the hundredth time in a day? How do I remember who she is and who I am, and pull deep from the wells of Heaven the compassion and gentleness that I need? How is this type of mindfulness ever cultivated?
“It’s Godliness” my husband writes. He says regrets all the times he’s responded to the children without Godliness, and as I read his words, I think, that’s the stronger virtue for which I seek. I can try to be mindful, yes, but mindful toward what? Mindful to exhibit love? Mindful to think before I speak? Mindful to show gentleness, enact justice, walk with mercy and grace? Mindful to have self control? Mindful to honor the personhood of my children?
Yes, all these, all these and more. All are traits of Godliness. All are fruits of the Spirit. It is Godliness–God-like-ness–that we desire. We want to live out the traits of God himself, and we do that only with God in us–Christ in us, we say, the hope of glory. In knowing Him we ourselves are truly known. It is by being in Him that we can live our Real Story.
Sometimes we forget where to aim our arrows. We can shoot straight from our bows in any thousands of directions, and still entirely miss the mark. What is mindfulness, or gentleness–what is an attempt to gracefully show love–if our strength is coming from our own depleted storehouse, and our target is forgotten in our minds? No, we love one another because love is from God. We love with love from God, and we love each other toward God. So it with God’s own strength that we pull back on our string; it is Him toward whom we aim all our intention; and it is in Him that we release those arrows to fly straight–unhindered– toward the mark.