The Art of Being Still
I, like most of my family, have a protestant-work-ethic (aka workaholic tendencies) and a deep down belief that the harder I work the closer my goals will be and the more I do the more I will be rewarded.
That reinforcement is never-ending and plays in my head like an I-pod for slackers: Keep your nose to the grindstone, put your back into it, you can rest when you’re dead, get it in gear, heave-ho it’s off to work we go, trying won’t get it done – just do it, if you don’t have something useful to do what does that make you, have a plan and stick to it, when things get tough the tough get going, when work gets hard work harder – and all of this plays against a hard bass line of “…. harder faster stronger more…..harder, faster stronger more…harder faster stronger more”.
This deeply entrenched set of beliefs served me well for most of my life. I was an overachiever. I was the kid who blew the curve for everyone else throughout my academic career. I was the worker who arrived first and left last. I was the mother who planned the parties, the play-dates, activities, homework schedules, and lunches. I scheduled vacations and reserved “quality time”. I actually put Christmas on a project plan to ensure everyone got the gifts they wanted.
When the work got hard – I worked harder. When times got tough – I got tougher. I was plugged-in to my I-pod with my head down and walked right into a bus. Not a small bus either. It was a big bus moving 90 mph. So, as I lay there…helplesss…I decided to ask for help.
What do you do when you finally ask for help and everyone looks at you with that grimace that says, “OMG! You are in trouble”!?
In my case, I sought out advice from laymen and professionals. I knew I was in real trouble when the professionals looked at me with that same “OMG” grimace and sent me on my way. Clergy, counselors, doctors, lawyers…I saw them all. Not one of them could help me with my particular set of problems. Almost every one of those professionals asked me, “How are you going to survive all of this?”. I usually responded, “I have no idea”.
There was much to be done – and no help. I knew certain actions needed to be taken but I was helpless.
In that moment when I was tested it wasn’t me who did anything. God did.
The slacker’s iPod was replaced with one psalm: “Peace be still and know that I am God” – Psalm 46:10
Notice he did not say “Peace, slow down and know that I am God”. He said, “Be still“.
I’d like to say I figured this out. I’d like to say I came to this realization quickly. I like to say I obeyed. I did not. Instead I ran around like the proverbial chicken with my head cut off. Nothing was accomplished. I was poorer, sicker, lonelier, and in more pain that when I started. Like a chinese finger trap, the more I struggled the more stuck I got.
The truth is: Once all my resources and strength were exhausted, I had no choice but to obey. I’m glad to say that once I finally submitted to God’s will and became still enough to hear God that everything got better.
God sent resources, light, joy, and people into my life and out of my life at just the right times.
He sent me a doctor full of belief and knowledge that helped me retrain my body and my mind. In my frustration I said to her, “I used to be like a wild pony ..”! Before I could finish she said, “That’s too bad because wild ponies don’t live long with this particular disease”. Her point being and one of the hardest lessons I had to learn was that sometimes slow and steady is not enough. Sometimes you must be still for as long as God wants you to. God will let you know when you are ready and not the other way around
I’d like to think that I got my health back, that I made a new home, and that I got my life back – but that’s not true. God protected me, sheltered me, healed me, and brought love to me. I did nothing.
I’m still the same physical being but I am forever changed. I thought I was a Christian before all this happened to me. Now I know I’m just learning to be a Christian and that it is a daily, no, minute-to-minute practice to try to achieve it. I also know that no matter how hard I work, I don’t deserve it. God’s Grace is mighty and sweet and no matter how hard I have worked in my lifetime I didn’t do anything to justify his compassion and love.
In your daily battles to make it through another day, take a minute to “Be Still and know that He is God”. Don’t just slow down, be still.
How do you practice the art of being still?