I was tenderly touched by this woman’s heart and powerful story: Jodi H. Grubbs, a former island girl, found herself as an adult thrown into the endless rush and exhaustion of hustle culture in the United States. But she soon realized that God was calling her to return to the “island days” of her past. Jodi found refuge and ways to nurture her soul by making space for God, others, and herself as she learned about a different path out of burnout and toward recovery. Jodi invites you to embrace a sustainable approach to life, anchored by forced breaks from spiritual practices and an openness to God. It is a joy to welcome Jodi to the farmhouse table today…

Guest blog by Jodi Grubbs

It was early on a summer morning and I was barely awake. Sunrise was imminent.

I was twenty-seven years old and still harboring my dream of moving to Murrells Inlet, a small coastal town in South Carolina where we had just returned. Little did I know that many of my dreams would be shattered that day.

At the request of my husband Brian, I ran out of our bedroom to call 911.

A friendly voice answered on the other end, but as I heard Brian’s body fall to the ground, I let the phone dangle. I quickly walked back and watched Brian die. His aorta had ruptured and he bled to death in less than two minutes. with me by his side.

The sound of breath, of life, leaving his body was louder than I expected. It was literally a soft whooshing sound.

The closest I ever came was when I was fifteen. A thirty-foot whale shark surfaced right next to where my friend and I were floating in a small sailboat. Both situations were terrifying and yet beautiful in inexplicable ways. Both surprised me and brought a lump to my throat.

But that morning, as I felt bewildered, scared and disbelieving, I wondered if I had entered a nightmare.

Your gentle invitation to breathe out in this season

Two years earlier, on a summer afternoon, as he rounded a bend on Interstate 85 near Atlanta, Brian was a passenger in a truck that accidentally veered off the road in the middle of a road rage incident. Brian had nowhere to go; he was crushed under a truck in this terrible accident.

“…My biggest fear about slowing down was knowing I would be left with the hard stuff. I knew I might not get any answers. But I especially didn’t want to feel those feelings.

Life stood still that day.

The actions of strangers left Brian hovering between life and death. That day turned into nine months in the hospital, four of them in shock trauma where my island heart saw human suffering so tragic it remains hard to explain.

During that period my grief was intense. It was a layering of the traumas my mind and body went through during the months Brian was in the hospital so often. It is unbearable to see someone in so much pain, while you cannot prevent that pain and suffering.

Maybe it’s a good thing we don’t write our own stories.

Of course we make decisions, chart a course and go all out for our dreams and hopes, but we don’t write our own story.

Our story fits into his Story and is interwoven with other stories. It is so big that it is hard to imagine us being part of it.

And yet we are.

Our story fits into his Story and is interwoven with other stories. It is so big that it is hard to imagine us being part of it... And yet we are.

I still don’t know the “why” of my story. I guess I don’t need to know. Maybe you have a story that makes you wonder why. Maybe the unthinkable happened to you. Maybe what you hoped for would didn’t happen.

Looking back as an adult, it sometimes felt like I was living in the Garden of Eden when I was an island kid. Such a beautiful, pristine speck in the world – a theology of slow life in the making. After college, I thought I would take my peaceful, quiet island life with me when I got married and moved to Georgia. Sixteen years of quiet island life in my formative years laid the foundation for my life; but as often happens, a devastating life event, like a crashing wave, threatened to tear apart the life I knew.

After so many years after this double tragedy of Brian’s accident and later death, My biggest fear about slowing down was knowing I would be left with the hard stuff. I knew I might not get any answers.

But I especially didn’t want to feel those feelings.

If you’re like me, there are times when it’s easier to stay busy: head down, one foot in front of the other. Until it can’t anymore.

Our bodies and minds were not designed to sustain this frenzied pace. What we desperately need is a shift, a collective exhalation as we find our way again.

When we become exhausted by the busyness and are forced to stop, it is an invitation for us to take stock of all that is unsaid, undone, unnoticed. This divine pause creates time to reflect and gives us the opportunity to change. If we just allow it, it opens up a whole new world. Our bodies and minds were not designed to sustain this frenzied pace. What we desperately need is a shift, a collective exhalation as we find our way again.

It’s okay to tell God you’re tired and drained and need to exhale and rest. He wants to guide you.

Nowadays I am calmer. I have finally accepted that sadness and joy hold each other in life.when the sea breeze and road rage collide. I understand that God kept me rooted in a nourished space. I was held in those rough waves. On the island. In the hospital. Now in my sunroom. Like the bend in I-85 in Atlanta, we will have unexpected pain with new bends in the road we travel.

But you and I are invited to walk with God. Every day. As if we were back in the original garden. A slow, dragging pace.

Being present. Being attentive. Being in real community.

Finding peace in a crazy world.

*Adapted from Live slowly by Jodi H. Grubbs. ©2024 by Jodi H. Grubbs. Used with permission of InterVarsity Press. www.ivpress.com.