Mindfulness And The Christian

My husband and I are in the process of evaluating our lifestyle at home, too much clutter, too many meals out.  We have recycled for a long time but recently started composting.  We mostly shop at thrift stores and garage sales, (hey, I'm unique, not cookie-cutter and I can't pass up a bargain.)  We donate or gift outgrown items.  Our pets are rescued and our home is an older fixer-upper we are slowly DIY-ing.  We are so dang mindful, can I get a high five?  

But what do others believe about mindfulness?

The practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis; also : such a state of awareness
— Merriam-Webster Dictionary

In it's original form, mindfulness is a Buddhist meditation teaching, closely resembling Zen.  For many believers, the roots of mindfulness alone is a red flag.  Others, prefer to take the opinion that Jesus redeems all things - like Yoga for example.  *smiles*

I see Christians and non-Christians defining mindfulness for themselves.  It's varied, and something like this...

  • Being aware of what is making me feel the way I do and using different meditation techniques to get rid of the negative feelings.

  • Making conscious choices that stop my toxic, harmful footprint on the planet.

  • Mindfulness is self-awareness.

  • Pausing to simply breathe and be in the moment.

But before we just jump on board with "claiming the name of Jesus" over something - we must filter every teaching and new idea through Scripture to see if it is indeed a thought that matches with our Christian principles and beliefs.  (Most religions or belief systems, have some truth at it's core - this a factor into why people are tricked into following cult leaders.)

The biggest conflict I see with mindfulness, in it's purest form, and Christian teachings is this - mindfulness is focusing on oneself instead of others.  The Bible, and Jesus Himself, teaches us to take up our cross and follow Him, to serve others sacrificially,  to love others unconditionally and to seek first His kingdom.  None of this is about me.

When my primary focus is me - my thoughts, my feelings, my comforts, my experiences, my actions  - then I'm not actually living Christianity, I'm self-absorbed.

Please hear me out.  An hour long massage and a facial, a shockingly perfect haircut, taking the time to put on moisturizer, painting my nails for the first time in months, a glamping trip with friends or a quiet Saturday morning with a cup of coffee...no kids...and Downton Abbey - self-care IS important!  This isn't what I'm talking about.  

Fully, I support counseling.  Living life can be hard no matter what and we all need help navigating trauma, abuse, wrong thinking and sometimes just day to day living.  Triggers come out of nowhere.  Anxiety can control your mind.  People do bad things.  If you need help - go get it, don't be ashamed.

Now, going back to the things I listed above...taking up your cross daily, serving sacrificially, loving unconditionally and seeking Him first - what part of that is easy?  What part of that promises you won't be hurt or feel bad about something?  Why do you think everything will go the way you want?  Why do you have to feel happy and in control all the time?

For God so loved the WORLD that He gave is only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.
— John 3:16

The true, feet on the ground, living by the Bible, Christian life can be messy.  It can be painful.  People don't like us sometimes, for no reason.  

Sin genuinely messes things up.  Life doesn't go as planned. Sickness and pain are an ugly part of human existence.  Children, animals, nature, women, men - we all suffer somehow.  This is real.  You can't save the world, but GOD CAN - JESUS did!  Let Him use you to help save the people that are in this world. This life, it's about JESUS and eternity.  The Gospel should be our focus and sharing Christ's love and grace with others.

Unfortunately, my view of mindfulness isn't going to fit in with the mainstream.  My view of mindfulness basically means - JUST THINK.  To me, mindfulness is pausing to talk about and actually process through the things we do or don't do and why.  Then, make changes as necessary.  I believe that God has given man the responsibility to care for the things we own and use - including our planet - there has to be reality in our day to day living.  Going back to this - the Gospel should be our focus and sharing Christ's love and grace with others.  

As an example, if I meet up with another mom at the park my first thought isn't how can I have zero waste  after our picnic?   (Seriously, I'm stressing just thinking about this fictional scenario.)

Pack everything in a handmade basket, only Mason jars for the kids to drink from, juice I squeezed at home, cloth napkins I made from a recycled sheet, glass plates we'll rinse off at a fountain, save all the chewed on leftovers in one of the Mason jars for composting at home, brownies are organic, fair trade made from the local bakery...

Where is eternity in this situation?  Your friend might be on the brink of divorce or suicide and you're fixated on not using paper plates and juice boxes.

Haters, I promise I'm not saying there's anything wrong with any one of the things in my fake picnic prep.  Each thing in and of itself is fantastic. BUT - did it take priority over your child?  Did it take priority over a human relationship?  Are you so focused on being mindful that you miss out on what's eternal - people - your kid - your husband - your friend.  

To Parents - as you raise your family, a primary goal should be to live the Gospel in front of your kids.  

(Note, I didn't say make sure you indoctrinate your children and hover over them as they repeat after you saying the prayer of salvation at the age of four.   Check that box, they're Heaven bound, my job is done!  Whew!)

To those not parenting - as you live your life, a primary goal should be to live the Gospel in front of those around you.

To live the Gospel means you get a megaphone and stand on the street corner and proclaim, "Jesus saves!"  Actually, no.  

  • It means you ask for forgiveness when you've messed up - yup, from your kids!

  • It means you show grace in situations when a consequence is what's really due.

  • It means you're honest all the time.

  • It means you let those in your family that aren't believers know how much you love them.

  • It means you are willing to get messy with people because people are who Jesus loves.

  • It means you help the cranky neighbor take down their Christmas lights.

Jesus is the goal.  The Bible is our plumb line.  Everything after that - being gluten free, buying locally sourced eggs, shopping exclusively handmade for birthday gifts, recycling - all of that is frosting on the cake.  And, by the way,  I do LOVE a good buttercream, but it HAS to go on top of a solid foundation.

If you truly want to affect change in your world - share JESUS.  JESUS makes the old new again.  JESUS heals the broken, sick and hurting. JESUS brings people together.  JESUS brings true peace to the world.

For what shall it profit a man if he shall gain the while world and lose his own soul.png