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  • Gail Edmonson

What Questions Are You Holding?

Updated: Oct 21


the word what with question marks

This morning I woke up at 3:29 am – and not on purpose. I thought I would go back to sleep, but I didn’t. I was just lying there, my mind churning with all kinds of thoughts. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was an on/off switch for the brain? I’d especially like that for when I wake up in the middle of the night. Because if my brain switches on, then I begin ruminating on all the things... Maybe you do that too? Or maybe it’s when you’re trying to fall asleep? Or just randomly throughout the day?


What I am discovering is that most of the topics swirling around in my mind are really just questions that I am holding. And one of the practices I’m finding very helpful right now is naming my questions. I stumbled into this practice rather accidentally by taking on a new rhythm earlier in the year. For Christmas, my daughter-in-law gave me a book on my wish list - The Next Right Thing Guided Journal by Emily P. Freeman. One of the monthly reflections offered in the journal is to make a list of questions you are carrying. So, very faithfully each month I have made my list. The questions I write down are the ones that are weighing heavily on me and on which I have no clear direction. They usually happen to be very practical questions I have about what to do in a particular situation or about timing for a specific action. Over the months, I have noticed that my list of questions is really a list of prayers. As I write them down, I surrender them to God. I notice that if I have anxiety or concerns, the simple act of writing the questions down as they come up throughout the month helps me release them.


Also, in The Next Right Thing Guided Journal, is a monthly page for writing what the author calls “arrows.” She says when we are looking for solutions to our questions, we may not get a full answer, but we are often pointed in the direction of the next right thing to do. (Hence the name of the journal and her book, The Next Right Thing.) As I write down the arrows I notice, I recognize how God is present and at work in the things I am surrendering to Him.


For example, earlier this year I was in a situation in which I was vastly inexperienced. Decisions needed to be made and wasn’t sure what direction to take. As I formed my thoughts into questions and wrote them down in my journal, I named them in prayer to God and told him I had no idea what to do or where to go for help. Then, a week or so later in an unrelated conversation with a friend, the subject came up about a business group of which she was a part. I mentioned the question I had - which I could state clearly because I had written it down - and my friend said she knew someone who did that type of work and would send me the contact information.


Forming my concerns into questions and writing them down gave me clarity. Surrendering them to the Lord gave me a new perspective. This prayerful act of relinquishing thoughts that I often keep to myself and carry on my own was, in a word, freeing.


Now that I have been engaging in this process for about ten months, I recognize naming my questions is a way of engaging in the spiritual discipline of releasing. Below is the practice that works best for my rhythm of life. I use The Next Right Thing Guided Journal, which (by the way) has MANY more helpful exercises for reflecting. But with or without the journal, I hope what I am learning is helpful for you, too.


The day of the week I choose to spend time reflecting on my questions is Friday. I light a candle, pour a cup of coffee, and pull out my journal. The candle reminds me of the presence of Christ with me. The cup of coffee reminds me that since I am in a conversation with Jesus I need to pause to listen as well as talk to Him. I think about what is on my heart and mind and notice any concerns. Then I form the concerns into questions and make a physical list, releasing each question to the Lord. Each Friday, I take notice of new questions and add them to the list. Then, as I notice “arrows,” I make a separate list of those. Gratitude is always a part of the process for me - especially as I look over my lists. I thank God for what I notice - even if there are no clear arrows or answers. I thank Him as I wait with Him.


Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. Philippians 4:6-7 (MSG)


Resources


The Next Right Thing Guided Journal, Emily P. Freeman


The Next Right Thing (book), Emily P. Freeman


Affiliate Links Disclosure:


Bear in mind that some of the links on this website are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I will earn a commission. Keep in mind that I link these companies and their products because of their quality and not because of the commission I receive from your purchases. The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you.


Photo by Vadim Bogulov on Unsplash

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Through the Unexpected Grace Blog I offer encouragement to help you engage deeply with Father, Son, and Spirit. I do this by posting some of what I am learning, along with resources for your journey - such as prayer practices, articles, books, workshops, and retreats.

 

My hope and my prayer is to see lives lived in God's grace.

Affiliate Links Disclosure:

Bear in mind that some of the links on this website are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I will earn a commission. Keep in mind that I link these companies and their products because of their quality and not because of the commission I receive from your purchases. The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you.

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