Wasting Time with God

As a former energizer bunny with a calendar in my head, I’ve always been physically and mentally doing something. So, attending the Group Spiritual Direction Workshop three different times – both as a participant and assistant facilitator – was life-changing for me. Each weekend during these programs gave me the opportunity to practice the art of being still, being in a spiritual community, and being compassionate.

When I’m doing, it’s all about my goals and productivity. I am constantly busy planning and thinking about the past, present, and future. I can mentally visualize the calendar in my head, making decisions about people to see, places to go, and things to do, both in my personal and professional life, as well as in my church life. As an avid, active churchgoer who regularly attends weekly Bible study, Sunday morning worship, liturgical celebrations, and community fellowship, I am a 20 percenter doing 80 percent of the work.

Through my GSD workshops, I have come to realize that the problem with doing is that the busyness does not allow me to be still long enough to listen for the voice of God in “sheer silence (I Kings 19:12).” Sometimes, the busyness overwhelms me, and — like the prophet Elijah — I am ready to give up. But in the solitude, waiting in God’s presence, Elijah heard the quiet voice ask, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” and inviting him to re-engage his work.

During large and small group gatherings at my GSD workshops, the same question often arises in my mind, “Angela, what are you doing here?” Generally, I think that I know what I need to do. But in each online retreat I find the time and space to practice being still, waiting to hear God’s gentle whisper. No rushing impetuously. No multitasking. No lurking on social media during meetings or muting myself so that I can cook or fold laundry.

I remember the first time I shared in a small group. We were sitting in silence, listening for each other, and the response to my heart talk was, “New community.” Contrary to all my expectations, I was part of a new spiritual community. A spiritual community where, as Rose Mary Dougherty affirms, we are “wasting time with God together”— being with God without a specific agenda.

“Wasting time with God” is why I attended a second GSD Workshop Level l, because being still while in a spiritual community means being connected and engaged with others who are also listening for the voice of God. A spiritual community demands openness, vulnerability, and trust, which do not come easily.

That vulnerability is hard because each one of us comes with wounds and injuries. Sometimes, the pain feels so present that we are unaware that healing has already begun. There is, of course, simultaneously joy and hope. The hope and joy provide us the space to question whatever it is we think we know about ourselves and the world – space to discern how and what God is inviting us to. For me, these questions can be uncomfortable; they push me out of my comfort zone, yet deepen my awakening to oppression, exclusion, and silence.

As a former energizer bunny, I have learned to practice being still in all sorts of spaces: at home, at work, and in church. I have learned, and take great pleasure in, wasting time with God. I have learned that a spiritual community takes time to blossom, but that by remaining connected and engaged with others I have learned self-compassion. Most recently, when I sat in the small group – now as an assistant facilitator — the more I listened to others with gentleness and compassion, the gentler and more compassionate I became with myself. I experienced healing I didn’t realize I needed: turning compassion inward, and not judging myself harshly.

GSD helped me practice the art of wasting time with God, slowing down, and being still in the present moment so that I can hear God’s gentle whisper leading me into my future.

February 02, 2024 by Angela Hooks 2 Comments
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Helene Lambruschi
Helene Lambruschi
4 months ago

The story that Angela tells left me reflecting upon how the personal witness of one woman’s faith journey enkindled within me a remembrance of my own fiat many years ago. When an encounter with anyone leaves one being “more” themselves after the encounter there is often an awareness of a “quality” that the other person had which captured by the word love. Not in the sense, “I really do love my morning cup of coffee, or binging a favored series.” For even enjoyment in savoring that perfect cup of Joe, or binging a series such as “The Chosen” is a moment or many moments in time, an encounter with the Spirit of the living God, leaves one refreshed with more than a caffeinated or mentally stimulated sense of “high-ness.”

When I finished reading Angela Hooks story I was reminded how an encounter
results in a transformation of free will that draws one inward yet, Angela remains with a greater sense of wholeness and holiness. The “demands” of a spiritual community don’t come easily. However as one continues to “sit still, sit straight in a stance offering the least resistance” (James Finley) a heightened sense of receptivity to “that than which no greater can be thought” (Anselm, maybe?) transforms an inward demand to an inviting, “hello darkness my old friend.” Waste time with God, it’s a worthwhile investment.

Tom Adams
Tom Adams
4 months ago

Thanks Angela for this beautiful reminder of the power of being still with Big Spirit and doing that in commuity in group spiritual direction. As a long-time practitioner of GSD, I find a spiritual intimacy there I don’t find anyplace else. And your reminder of how my compulsive doing is often not about God or God’s will. It is about my idea of how to be ok and heal old wounds. “Only in God can my soul be at rest.” Thanks for the powerful remidner.


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