“My world is filled with beautiful things; they are meant to be pointers to Me, reminders of My abiding Presence.”
– Jesus Calling, June 6
It’s the end of the day, and I’ve been searching for my slippers. I am so annoyed.
In this one simple and meaningless failure, I do what I sometimes do: I consider myself a failure. This one little thing spirals into a weight on my chest, and I can feel depression and anxiety slowly creeping in.
Our house is littered with shoes. There are shoes by doors and couches, beds and chairs, here and there and everywhere. I trip over them often. Under my desk, where I write and sit most of the time, there’s always a pair or two strewn about, since I kick them off when I sit in my chair cross-legged.
As the night falls and the routine of the day fades, I am always searching for my slippers. I leave them somewhere different each night: by a bed I crawled into with a child who couldn’t fall asleep, or by the chair I fell asleep in while reading a book. I never know where those slippers are when I need them in the cool of the morning, or in the evening when this old house feels crisp.
At one time, I disdained all of these shoes. But as I sit at my desk, right in the middle of my life, I vow to see those shoes as a life well-lived. They’re a sign that my people—my living, breathing, God-given gifts—live here with me. That shift in perception, the way I now see God in everything, has helped me with a soul-crushing but soul-remaking struggle with anxiety and depression. My anxiety and depression have forced me to shift my focus so I can see the beauty all around me. I take in each simple blessing in plain view.
That shift in perception, the way I now see God in everything, has helped me with a soul-crushing but soul-remaking struggle with anxiety and depression.
I sit here at my desk with cold feet and look out the window. The cows in the field are eating hay, the sky is painted a periwinkle blue as the sun fades, with just a bit of pink over the mountain. It’s a perfect image, and staring at it helps me tonight. I sit and gaze at the beautiful scene, and slowly my act of observing turns into prayer.
I watch the cows eat and wonder how they simply know what they’re supposed to do. I sit and wonder what I’m supposed to do—I have an urge to take us all away to something new and remote, with the right touch of water to mountain, without the stack of shoes, without my failures. I spend hours googling how much a house costs on the Isle of Skye in Scotland or on Prince Edward Island in Canada.
I center myself in the moment, and I force myself to focus on all that is, instead of all that is not. I remember that I’m here in this house, filled with all I love. I feel calm and thankful.
I force myself to focus on all that is, instead of all that is not.
You might not find cows beautiful, or even as gifts from God. But for me, their presence reminds me that I can see God’s beauty all around. That recognition has helped me so much with anxiety and depression. It’s a shift of perspective. It’s observation as prayer. It’s the faith in the view. It’s the living God, all around.
I pray my quiet prayers of thanks as my daughter sings in the shower, my son turns the pages of his book, the cows graze the field. I spy my slippers in the corner and slide my feet in. I listen to the still and calm of the God who is always here, if I merely pay attention.
Kara Lawler is a writer and teacher. She is a wife and mother to two children and lives in the Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania. Kara is the author of Everywhere Holy: Seeing Beauty, Remembering Your Identity, and Finding God Right Where You Are (Thomas Nelson). For more information visit www.karalawler.com .