Vaneetha on JourneyMates

JourneyMates. Even hearing the name evokes a sense of rest in me.  It has been an invaluable way to pull away from my day-to-day life and simply sit in the presence of God.

Before JourneyMates, I avoided silence. It was unnecessary and uncomfortable.  But now I seek it out, as I have seen the deep work that occurs in me when I am still.  Thoughts and emotions bubble to the surface, the things that are churning inside me, and I have the opportunity to pay attention to them, bring them to God, and ask Him where they belong.  Are they emotions to be dealt with or distractions to be pushed aside?  Only He knows, and I offer it all to Him.

So for five years, I have gone monthly to sit in a roomful of women with the same longings for God. Women who also need stillness to fully hear Him.  As I settle into my chair, I exhale deeply. I'm home. A place of belonging where I don't need to make small talk or pretend. Here I can be authentic, broken, and needy. And no one judges me, pities me, or wants to fix me.  Everyone is on her own journey and is content to simply walk beside me in mine.  I come as I am and I’m invited to give and receive in a natural rhythm. It is not about my wisdom or my words. The teacher is the Holy Spirit, and He speaks to each through the silence, through the Lectio, through the personal time with Him, and through the group sharing.  We are just conduits to discern and hear the Spirit’s work in each other.

JourneyMates is vastly different from traditional Bible Studies that I teach and participate in. There are no prayer requests, no need for to have the right answers, no preparation. Journeymates is not about talking; it’s about listening.  It’s not about initiating; it’s about responding. It’s not about doing; it’s about being. “Doing” has always been my preference. It's easier to do things for God. Take a meal.  Check my quiet time off the list. Read Christian books. But God wants so much more than my “doing.”   He wants me to know Him, the infinite, unpredictable, and dangerous God, who asks more from me than I want to give.  He wants everything. All of me. Not just my Bible study time in the morning and my prayers at night and my doing the right thing during the day. In the silence, everything is laid bare. I can’t hide behind my doing; I must wrestle with who I am and what is really inside of me.

Now I crave silence. So much that I schedule regular silent retreats for myself. To be alone with God and hear His still small voice. They have become a lifeline for me as they bring a sense of calm and rest and spaciousness to my life. In the midst of my chaotic and sometimes frightening circumstances, I know that God will quiet the storm in my soul as I sit and wait with Him. And He always does. Time after time after time.

So what has JourneyMates meant to me? It has transformed my walk with God from one of “doing” to one of “being.” And that has made all the difference.