United Methodist pastor and author Juanita Campbell Rasmus, a self-professed performance-addicted perfectionist, shares her story of hitting bottom, an event that led her on a healing journey of learning to be still and truly coming to know God.
Discover how leaning to be still and ridding yourself of the world's expectations can help you keep your spirit in shape.
Juanita is senior pastor at St. John's Downtown United Methodist Church in Houston. She is a spiritual director, speaker and author of "Learning to Be: Finding Your Center After The Bottom Falls Out" and "Forty Days on Being a One."
Juanita Campbell Rasmus
- Learn about Juanita and her ministry at her website.
- Watch Juanita in a TEDx Talks episode.
- Juanita is the author of "Learning to Be" and "Forty Days on Being a One."
- Follow Juanita on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Popular related items on UMC.org
Join the conversation
- Email our host Crystal Caviness or our producer Joe Iovino about this episode, ideas for future topics, or any other thoughts you would like to share.
Help us spread the word
- Tell others: members of your church, coworkers, and anyone else might benefit from these conversations.
- Share us on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites.
- Review us on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you download the episode. Great reviews help others find us.
More Get Your Spirit in Shape episodes
- Get Your Spirit in Shape and other United Methodist podcasts
Thank you for listening, downloading, and subscribing.
This episode posted on March 4, 2022.
TranscriptCrystal Caviness, host: Juanita Campbell Rasmus’s morning started out like many others, preparing breakfast and getting her family and herself ready when she suddenly felt unwell and laid down. It is this moment which the United Methodist pastor refers to as ‘the crash,’ and her psychiatrist termed ‘a major depressive episode,’ when Juanita began a spiral, one that she says was the beginning of freedom and discovering the person she and God are co-creating together. Juanita describes her healing journey in her book, Learning to Be: Finding Your Center After the Bottom Falls Out. Hear Juanita’s candid story of a self-professed performance-addicted perfectionist who’s learned to be still and truly come to know God.
Crystal: Juanita, welcome to “Get Your Spirit in Shape.” I am so excited to have you here today.
Juanita: Thank you. It’s such a privilege to be here with you, Crystal.
Crystal: We’re going to talk about, well, a couple of books. I know we will talk about a lot of different things. But I want to start out by talking about your book, Learning to Be: Finding Your Center After the Bottom Falls Out. Juanita, I read your book. I kept underlining. I kept highlighting. On some pages I just put a big exclamation mark! And I kept saying, “How does she know these things about me?” Do you hear that a lot?
Juanita: I do. I do. I’m grateful for that. You know, when I wrote this it was both basically my memoir as well as I just had this compelling sense that it wasn’t just for me. But when I wrote it, it was really just me sharing my own experience of having my life come to a screeching halt—a crash as I call it in Learning to Be. But I’m so grateful that it resonates with so many people and the reviews on Amazon it’s just amazing to me the things that people have said about this book, you know, my social media and other things. And so, I’m grateful that you were able to underline and highlight and put exclamation points on pages. You know, that’s just such a gift. I’m grateful for that.
Crystal: Let’s back up a minute and talk about the crash, this was such a transformative event that happened to you and to your family.
Juanita: Yes. Well, you know, it started…. I was 37 at the time. My husband and I had been married I think about maybe 14 years or so. Our girls were in middle school. We co-pastor at St. John’s downtown in Houston, Texas. And so our church at that point was in its seventh year. We started with nine members. It had grown to, at that point, 3,500 members. And my husband and I were not previously in ministry, nor trained for ministry particularly. We were just two people basically who felt compelled to do ministry. And our senior pastor gave us the opportunity and the key to the door. And so before we knew it the church had grown substantially. And we weren’t equipped. Our way of being equipped was, for me anyway, try harder, do more, take more of the things that you do like off the table so that you can have space to do more of the ministry. Right? That was a bad decision. But it was one that I ended up learning a great deal from. Basically, all the who I was at that point showed up and the roles that I had been playing, the ways I had been trying to validate my identity through doing, through being… My title was being a good little girl and being a good wife and a good mother and a good pastor and a good…you know, it goes on and on. And one morning I got up to prepare breakfast for my family, because that was really the only time that we were going to have a meal together because our lives were just that hectic. Right? So we got up. We had breakfast. My husband said, “Would you like me to take the girls to school?” And I said, “Great. That would be good. I’ll be able to my makeup in the bathroom mirror instead of the rearview mirror.” I know I’m not the only one, right? But the reality is I went into the restroom after I hugged and kissed them goodbye. All of a sudden I just … Crystal, I felt terrible. I didn’t know if it was maybe the flu. I just felt sick. From the rooter to the tooter as they say in Texas. And so I didn’t know what was going on. So I called our secretary and I said, “I’m not feeling well. Maybe I’ve just been moving around too fast. And so I’m gonna lay down. Would you reschedule my appointments and I’ll come in around noon.” Well, I hung up the phone and literally had what I felt like was an out-of-body experience. I watched myself hit redial on my home phone (at the time). I picked up, you know, receive a hit and dial. And then I said…I babbled something to her like, “I’m not coming in…I don’t know if I’m ever coming back. I’m gonna take a sabbatical or a leave of absence or something” And I hung up the phone. My grandmother would have said, “Juanita, you had a nervous breakdown.” My psychiatrist said there’s no such thing, it’s a severe depressive episode. It really didn’t matter what you called it. I just knew that I couldn’t get out of bed, that I felt like the life had been sucked out of me, that I felt as though every electrical circuit in my body was on fire. I explained it in “Learning to Be” as holding a package of dry spaghetti and you’re getting ready to break it and you just gently apply this pressure and you begin to see the popping of those dry spaghetti. My brain and my body, my nervous system felt like that inside. My psychiatrist called it a major depressive episode. My spiritual director called it a dark night of the soul.
Crystal: You know, as I read that, Juanita, it seemed to happen so quickly. You walked into your bathroom and something just happened. But it actually was years, maybe decades, in the making. Is that right?
Juanita: Exactly. You know, I know that now. I didn’t know it then, of course, that the reality is that what was happening for me is that the me that I had been at that point was a me that I couldn’t sustain. And my body had been trying to tell me with lower back pain and teeth literally shattering in my mouth, right? All these different ways that my body was saying the stress and strain of the way you think you ought to live your life is crushing us. And so for me it was like the body did everything it could and then the mind said, “Okay, we’re taking over from here.”
Crystal: Now, you tell us in your book that you grew up trying to be the good girl, the southern good girl. You were a rule follower. You didn’t get mad. If you got mad, nobody knew that. You stuffed it. Regardless of what you were feeling if someone said “how are you?” you said, “I’m fine.” And I recognize that…. Well, I think that maybe it’s a female thing particularly. But I think, too, it’s …. You know, in the church we tend to think we want to be optimistic. We want to be hopeful. We want to be rule following. All the things that may not serve us well. How did you … So I read the book. So I know a little bit of the answer. But I want to hear you talk to our audience about this… how you went from that place of this lifelong learning to be this person to traveling to be who you really…. And I love how you said this….who you and God are co-creating.
Cracking like Humpty Dumpty
Juanita. Yes. Well, you know, I tell you, it started with, first, the diagnosis. I saw my primary care physician. She ruled out other kinds of illnesses that can create the feeling and the experience of depression in the body, like, hyper- and hypothyroidism and diabetes and other things. So she did all this blood work. Everything was fine on the blood work. Right? And so she says, I think you need to see a psychiatrist. And so I did. I started seeing a psychiatrist and right away she diagnosed me as having had a major depressive episode. At some point later…. Some point, I’m not quite sure when, she changed the diagnosis to bipolar disorder. Bipolar depressive. And we made adjustments to medication as we needed to from depression medicine to including an anti-anxiety medicine because I was having panic attacks. And then seeing my spiritual director. What happened for me was that I literally could not get out of bed for 18 months or so. I slept 18 to 20 hours a day. And there was absolutely no sense that I was going to get out of this alive. I felt very hopeless. There seemed to be nothing within me that I could draw on except for the fact that the Spirit would speak to me, would give me tips (if you will)—simple things like…. I remember one day the Spirit said, “Get up and go outside.” And I almost laughed. I went, “You’re kidding. I don’t have the energy to get up and walk outside.” And then after what seemed like an hour or so I just tried to get myself up and…. And keep in mind, going outside was only about 200 feet from where I was sitting. So it wasn’t like I was running a marathon or anything. So I get up and I open the back door and there’s this butterfly literally circling around the back door. And the butterfly would circle and then would go to the backyard, and then would come back and circle and go to the yard. It was as though this butterfly, through the Spirit, was saying, Come outside. You see, I didn’t realize that a person who is experiencing depression usually is also experiencing a vitamin D deficiency. So the Spirit was trying to get me to go outside so that I could get some sunshine. Right? Which, over time helped in this process of recovery. But it was many little things like that—things like…. I think 2 of the most profound questions that the Spirit asked me was, number one, who are you? And then, number 2, what would you love, what do you want, what do you really want? Right? I didn’t realize that having a false sense of who I was was literally killing me. It was because I was trying to live into this ideal sense of who I thought a Juanita Campbell Rasmus should be, and that she should be all things to all people, very much wearing a superwoman cape. Right? Juanita to the rescue to save the day. And then she comes home and has nothing left for anybody else. And so what happened for me was…. I always relate it to Humpty Dumpty, the little children’s riddle. You know, Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall; Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again. Now here’s the thing. If all the king’s horses and all the kings’ men couldn’t put Humpty together again, it would have just been the same ole Humpty crack.. Right? But the reality is the crack is how the new life comes through. And that was the invitation that God was offering me, that the way that I had been seeking…believing myself to be had done all they could do for me. And it was time for a new Juanita. It was time for a Juanita with a more expansive way of being in the world.
Crystal: Juanita, there’s a line in your book that says, “my to-do list took priority over my to-be list.”
Crystal: I once heard it said that God is “I Am,” not “I Do.”
Juanita: Come on now, that’s good. That’s rich, Crystal. Exactly.
Crystal: How do we stop our addiction to the “to-do list?” We’re in an achievement oriented society. We focus on…. I mean, you were in a church that was growing and thriving. And the list had to just go on and on and on.
Crystal: How do we focus on the “to-be list?”
‘I love you anyway’
Juanita: Well, you, I’m gonna tell you. I think it’s different for every person. But what I try to do in “Learning to Be” is to simply offer up some of the ways that I was invited to learn to be. One of the things that happened for me was I remember very clearly one day…. I will always remember this day. I had literally forgotten how to get out of the bed. And I was trying to go to the restroom. And I laid in the bed and I thought to myself, Well, maybe if I make myself like a pencil…. Now, who would think that? I don’t know. But anyway in my state of mind that made sense. Okay. Act like a pencil and then roll yourself out of the bed, and drop to the floor and then roll yourself to the restroom. Right? Because in my brain I just could not process how to physically get out of the bed. And as I lay there trying to ponder this, the Spirit said….. Now this is how I heard it, and then I’m gonna tell you how it was meant. I heard it, because I’m hearing it out of the old Juanita, the Juanita who believes God is this God of judgment and punishment, this God who’s a cross between Judge Judy and Santa Claus and either of them could mess up your Christmas. You know what I mean? And so I am there and I hear the Spirit say, “Look at you.” And it sounded to me like this: “Look at you. You can’t do anything for me. But I love you.” But what I am so grateful for is that I couldn’t get out of bed, because it meant that I had to stay there and let the Spirit tell me what was really being said to me. And that was: “Look at you. You have worn yourself out because you thought that doing is what makes me love you. I love you anyway, even if you can’t do anything for me.” And so that moment just brought tears to my eyes because I thought to myself if I had gotten that wrong, that understanding of what God was really longing for, if I had gotten that wrong, what else had I gotten wrong. Right? And so it was in that space that the Spirit just…I just felt so much love and such a great awareness that I didn’t have to earn God’s love. And so I didn’t have to live my life like I was earning anybody else’s love either, that I was loved because I was. Just as God is I AM, I am. I am loved.
Crystal: And you say it took this for you. It took the crash. So this really horrible and scary, goodness, how scary it must have been for you, for Rudy, for your girls, for everyone who loved you to watch their dynamic, vibrant Juanita experiencing this. I just cannot even imagine what that must have been like for them to watch even as you’re going through it. But you say that it took this.
Juanita: It did. It did. And you know the reality is I think all of us have our own crash. Its’ different things. Mine was a mental health diagnosis. For somebody else it might be the despair of a job that’s not working out or a divorce or a dream that blows up in your face, or some other major life something that calls you into being your most authentic self. And I think that so many people, especially now with Covid and this pandemic and the social justice uprising and all the ways that our lives have been disrupted and disoriented over the past 2 years or so, I think many people are finding the rug or the bottom falling out of their life. And so it’s an opportunity for us to recognize that this isn’t about taking our life. Suicide is not an option. But it is about creating a life that we would have never tapped into had we not gotten to this place where the bottom fell out.
Crystal: And in discovering…. Maybe it wasn’t re-discovering. Maybe it truly was discovering this life for you for the first time. You went backwards into your childhood and I really…I appreciated that that was a place that you were encouraged to go, that your therapist was saying, you know, What did you love as a child? And out of that came some remembering of some dreams that you had. Can you talk about that?
Creating a ‘want to’ file
Juanita: Absolutely. And I’ve got to say this: I think each of us have at points had vital life-giving dreams that we, over time, exchanged for what became the status quo. Showing up. Getting the job done. Trying harder. Making it happen. Right? And so when my therapist asked me to remember what I really loved as a child, my brain was so shut down I couldn’t even hardly remember childhood, let alone what I loved. Right? And so daily I would just kind of say, Okay. So what did you love when you were a little girl? And I just gently asked myself that question as though I was asking my inner Juanita, my little Juanita. Really, I was asking her, What did you like to do? And then slowly things started coming to my remembrance, like, the fact that I used to love to climb on my grandmother’s porch. She had the kind of porch that had concrete steps and then pillars on both sides. And I said in “Learning to Be,” if we had been rich and white we would have had lions on those pillars, but we weren’t rich and we weren’t white. So there were no lions. There was just a pillar. Right? And so I would climb on those pillars and then turn around and I would jump off. And I felt so alive. And then every now and then my grandmother would see me doing it and she would say, “Juanita, don’t do that. You’re gonna fall and break your neck.” Right? And what I came to realize with that remembrance was how often there were life-giving, life-inviting ways of being that were asking me to experience the life that somebody that loved me and cared for me would say, “Don’t do that. You’re gonna kill yourself.” You know, like skydiving and hot air ballooning and other things that I had longed to do that other people around me felt wasn’t safe, that I could be hurt or worse, I could be killed. And yet, when I dreamed of those things as a child I never dreamed of dying. I dreamed of how alive I would feel. And so the invitation when my therapist asked me to go back there was to begin to remember places where I felt alive, and then to see how I could bring that into my adult life. And one of the things that the Spirit invited me to do on that journey was to create a “want-to” file. It was just basically a file folder. I put on it ‘want to’ which now I would say, “what would I love.” I would say that now. But “want to” is what got me through, right? And so I would put images out of magazines. Junk mail became a thing where maybe I could see something that would kind of speak to my soul. And so I saw an image of a hot air balloon on the front of a Zest Magazine in Houston’s Chronicle where I ripped that page out, put it in the “want to” file. I saw some hot air ballooning at Clear Lake, which is a city near Houston. I ripped that out. I put it in the “want to” file. Words that were like encouraging and life-giving. I would drop them in there. Over time I would just look at the things I had put in the “want to” file. I remembered enough about the brain to know the importance of repetition that if we keep seeing life-giving images that that speaks to us. It begins to create endorphins in our body, the feel good chemical that God has already created for us, right? And so over time I would look in that file and go, Yeah, I think I would love to go hot air ballooning or yeah, I would love to go skydiving. Right? I remember very clearly the Spirit asking me once, “Where would you like to go?” And I thought, Oh, God, you’re asking me where I’d like to go? I have no clue. Again, my brain was just that shut down. And the Spirit just kind of kept the conversation going. “Where would you like to go? Where you always wanted to go.” And I’m like, “God, come on now. Lighten up. I don’t remember where I wanted to go.” And so God said, “Juanita, you always wanted to go to Africa.” And I said, “Okay, Africa.” So I wrote “Africa” and dropped it in the “want to” file. That was around October. In January, I got a letter from our denomination asking me if I would go to the United Nations Conference on World Racism and where…Africa. All expenses paid. Now, you have to understand, Crystal, on the hierarchy in Methodism, I’m a bottom-feeder. All right? I’m a local pastor. All right? I was being asked to take Bishop Leontine T. C. Kelly’s place at this United Nations conference. I was blown away. How did they even know anything about me, right? And so I say that story to say to people, begin to think about what you want. What would you absolutely love? Because God is concerned about the things you would absolutely love. The Scripture says that God will give us the desires of our heart if we keep our minds stayed on God. I’m gonna tell you what my interpretation of that is. God will give us the desires that we are longing for if we’ll keep holding that vibration of longing, because God’s energy is as much a vibration as it is the reality of the divine creating. Physical vibration. Think about this: When Jesus created miracles it was because he was operating out of an energy that allowed those miracles to manifest. And so when we hold our visions in our mind we are operating at this high level of the possibility for manifestation, for miracles, right? God didn’t ask me how do you want to get to Africa? Do you want to pay for this on your American Express, or do you want to make payments? None of that. God simply invited me to say what I longed for. And what I’ve seen over and over again is that I hold the desire and that desire gives me life. It makes me feel one with the universe, one with God. And God and I are co-creating this thing together, right? I have seen God open doors and make things come my way that could have never happened any other way than by the power of God’s great love.
Crystal: What’s in your ‘I would love to” file now?
Juanita: Oh, thanks for asking. So, one of the dreams that I have is that the work that I’m doing, that I would be able to serve one million people, tithe one million dollars and earn one million dollars, in the work that I’m doing, in coaching and sharing the message of “Learning to Be” because now I recognize that “Learning to Be,” the book, was just the launching for the “Learning to Be” work in the world that I’m called to do in inviting people to think more transformatively and to live their most transformational life. And so I am just elated by this grand invitation that God is giving me to take this work around the world.
Crystal: Well, Juanita, that’s so exciting, and to know that it’s just starting, that there’s so much. Those are big items in your ‘I would love to’ folder. And I know that now you’re not repeating those old behaviors. You’re working to be…to be. You’re working to be. And in the book you quoted someone else. Let me see. You said that “God’s first language is silence. We must learn to be silent and to rest in God.” And then this other part was (that I loved) the imagery is “Silence and solitude are like marinade, making the heart tender.” How do you…with all this really exciting, passionate work, how do you find the space to be silent with God?
Juanita: So, let me say this. Number one, I have learned that I control my calendar. My calendar doesn’t control me. And so in my calendar, I have to calendar space for my time with God. I highlight across the top of my appointment book, my meditation time in the morning, my devotion time in the morning. Right? Now let me say this, too, because there’s a great possibility that somebody listening to this and saying, I’m in the prime of the busiest aspect of my life. And for me that was being a mother, having the sense that there was no real (quote) time for me. So what does it look like to be with God, to have some silence and solitude? It means you do things like, when you’re at a red light, take some deep breaths. Just are open to the presence of God. Let me just say that God, I’m here now and you’re welcome. You’re welcome to be here with me. I think it’s little things. You don’t start with 30 minutes or an hour of silence and solitude. It starts with little moments of being very intentional with those little moments. You know I love “The Practice of the Presence of God” by Brother Lawrence because he had wanted to be a monk but he was a monk reject. Okay? They wouldn’t let him. And they finally had a job where they needed somebody to wash dishes. And so they hired Brother Lawrence to do that. He said, in the noisiest place in a monastery is the kitchen. And he was washing dishes in that kitchen. And he learned to make washing the pots, and turning on water, and squeezing the towel that he was using to wipe and clean the dishes and the pots with. He made that his space where he learned to tune inward, to notice what you’re noticing, to notice moments where your heart feels open and expansive, receptive to love, to notice the moments when you feel constrictive and restricted in some way because those are messages that the Spirit is offering us, messages of longing and messages of discontentment. God is in those because they are also the language of God. So, I would say notice what you’re noticing. That’s a great way to start with this (quote) silence and solitude. Just be where you are in the moment and invite God to be there with you.
Crystal: Juanita, you tell us in your book that one of the ways you really learned more about yourself was through the enneagram.
Crystal: And so, for some of our listeners who may not know the word or may have heard the word, but not quite sure what it means, can you just give us a really brief definition. And then I want us to talk about your book, “The Forty Days on Being a One.”
Knowing who we are
Juanita: Yes. So, the enneagram is an ancient practice. It’s an ancient way of knowing…. You know, all of us are seeking meaning. We’re all seeking a way of knowing who we are and that’s what the enneagram offers us. I’m so grateful that I found it when I did. My spiritual director introduced me to the enneagram. And then along with the Carl Jung Center here in Houston, the psychiatrist Carl Jung, the center, their workshop on the enneagram. The enneagram is…if you imagine a pie plate and that pie gets divided in 9 slices. Each slice at its center of that pie represents the presence of God and how God invites us to show up in the world. And so each slice has a different way of showing up, a different way of projecting God into the world. When we move away from our most authentic self, we move away from how we’re called to show up. The enneagram helped me reconnect with the divine way I’ve been called to show up in the world. And that was so transformative for me because we talk a lot about sin in the church. But I like the enneagram’s approach. And that is when I am at my best I show up as an image of God. When I’m not at my best, meaning I’m not caring well for myself, I’m not noticing what I’m noticing when I find myself angry and I’m stuffing it or naming it, maybe I am ignoring the still, small voice within me that might be inviting me to rest, or might be inviting me not to take on that next assignment. Or it might be asking me to stay home and soak in the tub. Really…believe it or not, God will get in your business, if you let God. All right? God’ll say, Sit down. Shut up. Be quiet. You know, it’s not like that, thank goodness. It’s generally a very warm and loving invitation, but it’s a very quiet one. And that’s why it’s important to tune in to the silence that’s within us. Sometimes turning the radio off. Turning the TV off. Instead of 3 hours of TV every day, what about 10 minutes where you give yourself permission to just be with your breath as a means of connecting with the silence. There are so many powerful tools that can help us with that. The enneagram is one of those tools that began to help me to address that question: Who am I? And it even pointed to some things that I would love, that I needed to name, but had not been able to name for myself based on my personality. It’s kind of a profile. It’s a way of naming, a way that certain characteristics show up in our lives, and what those longings are and what the discontentment is for us. So as a one on the enneagram I find that I’m a people pleaser in recovery. I’m a dualistic thinker. That means I have a personality that tends to think in black and white. It’s either good or bad. It’s right or wrong. It’s black; it’s white. And then, guess what. I found out there’s 999 million shades of gray, and then as many beautiful colors to go along with that. Right? And so the world is not black and white. It is not always right versus wrong. But there are times when what we find in the enneagram is an invitation to be more expansive, and in many ways to be like Jesus.
Crystal: We could do another whole podcast episode on that right and wrong judgmental piece of this, couldn’t we? The book you wrote, “Forty Days on Being a One, “we’re sharing this podcast during Lent. And it occurred to me what a great tool this could be for someone through the 40 days of Lent. It’s 40 devotionals. And even if you’re not…you don’t know what your number might be, it could be such a powerful tool. And there are Forty Days on Being a Two or a Three, all the way … there’s a series of them. So I’m excited about looking at that more and kind of following that through this Lenten season.
Juanita: Could I share a little bit from one of the days?
Crystal: Please do. Yes.
Juanita: This one is Day 34, and it’s called “Abiding Grace.” “The beauty of the enneagram is that it reminds me that I’m a human. Still but operating out of the inherited sin with a natural inability to be patient or kind, but to share and be vulnerable.” So he just defines sin as the fact that we’re not always patient and we’re not always kind. And we’re not always vulnerable. “Yet, despite my beloved rules as a one on the enneagram and desires for right-ness, one way I experience God’s grace and presence is when I commit to doing my inner work of transformation. I’m no longer lulled into the false notion that I am perfect as I am. But rather I get to see that God’s grace is present as I’m seeing my shadow side, my unreasonable, judgmental and irrational side, and that God isn’t seeing all of me for the first time. I may be awakening to aspects of myself that I haven’t seen before and known, but God has seen and known all along and still longs to be in relationship with me beyond my self-importance or my self-righteousness. God loves me and is moving me consistently towards being my better self and I’m grateful for that.” I just wanted to read a little bit out of it.
Crystal: I love that. Thank you so much, Juanita, for sharing that. And it’s such a perfect segue into the question that we ask all of our guests on “Get Your Spirit in Shape.” How do you keep your spirit in shape?
Juanita: Thank you. I want to tell you something, and I’ve got to share this. So often we think that we have to do things very consistently, very methodically. And yes, that can be very important. But one of the things Dallas Willard said to me one day. And I said, “Dallas, what happens if you don’t get to pray in your formal prayer time?” Right? And he said, “Juanita, every day is different and every day has its own grace.” I was so grateful for that because I would have been very punitive towards myself if he had said anything judgmental that would have aligned with the way I had been thinking at that time. And so what I’ve come to learn is that every day is different. Take a deep breath and ask “what is mine to be bread today?” What is bread for me today? God, what are you inviting me to? Sometimes God will say, “Go back to sleep. You need more rest.” Sometimes God will say, “Read Psalm 34. Read Psalm 91. Or read Mark 4, verse 1 as your devotion.” And other times God will say, “Look at your meditation, read the reading for the devotion for meditation today.” But just stay open because God is always speaking. I love that quote from…I can’t remember if it was the Dalai Lama or Thich Nhat Hanh, the Buddhist priest who recently passed. He said, “God is always with you. If we would learn to always be listening, then we would find our longings met, our discontentment resolved; and we would learn to be our most expansive.”
Crystal: Wow! That is a beautiful place to imagine yourself being, or to being if you are there. Thank you. Juanita. I appreciate your candor, your courage. I’m sure there were times, especially early after the crash, that it was not easy to talk about it. It was not easy to share. But I appreciate that you did share that so that so many of us can look at our own lives and find out how we can be.
Juanita: Yes. Yes. I’ve got to say this for all the people out there who are saying, all that be stuff is good, but people got to get work done around here. Here’s what I’ve come to realize. This is the real jewel, okay? Lean in; you’ll want to hear this. This is the key: If I take 5 minutes to be in the presence of God, whether it’s through an open heart, an open mind, reading a Scripture, whatever…whatever tool I might use in that 5 minutes, in 5 minutes the Spirit can guide me so that my doing is not only just a matter of checking something off my to-do list, but it’s efficient, it’s effective and it’s done in love versus being done out of striving and trying harder and press energy. When I take 5 minutes to be it allows my doing to be done well.
Crystal: Oh, yeah. I love that. There’s a lot of wisdom, a lot of wisdom there. Thank you. Thank you again for being with us on “Get Your Spirit in Shape.” It’s just been a joy for me and I know that our audience is just going to learn so much and we’re just so excited to be able to talk about “Learning to Be: Finding your Center after the Bottom Falls Out” and “Forty Days on Being a One.” We’ll include those links so anyone that wants to learn more can definitely do that. So thanks again for being with us.
Juanita: And would you also invite them to go to my website: Juanitarasmus.com. We’ve got a lot of beautiful things that are coming up and I would love for your audience to know about them. Thank you so much, Crystal.
Crystal: Absolutely. You’re welcome. Thank you.
That was Juanita Campbell Rasmus, speaker, author, spiritual director and Senior Pastor (along with her husband Rudy) at St John’s Church in downtown Houston. To learn more about Juanita, her books and ministry go to UMC.org/podcasts and look for this episode. In addition to the helpful links and a transcript of our conversation, you’ll find my email address so you can talk with me about Get Your Spirit in Shape. Thank you so much for joining us for today’s episode of Get Your Spirit in Shape. I look forward to the next time that we’re together. I’m Crystal Caviness.