Be Still

Confession: I’m not very good at being still. I’ve always been someone who wakes up early. I’m not someone who can regularly nap on the couch or flip through a magazine or binge watch TV shows. The truth is, it feels like my mind is ALWAYS working in overdrive. As a mom, my last thoughts before going to sleep at night usually revolve around whether my two-year-old is okay, whether she’s sleeping soundly, whether I’ve done all the things that need to be done to meet her physical needs for the day. When I wake up in the middle of the night, my mind is swirling with thoughts of spreadsheets and work deadlines, chores around the house, and all the things I didn’t get done the previous day and other tasks that I should be thinking about.

Somewhere during the course of my life, I convinced myself that constantly thinking through my to-do list, constantly multi-tasking, and constantly working harder would yield the fruits of success and stability in my life. And, to be honest, the results have proven my theory of striving to be somewhat true—at least from the outside. I have a good education, a satisfying job, and a growing family. These are all great things and I consider them gifts. However, despite appearances, each of these gifts comes with its own set of responsibilities and expectations, which can be overwhelming, especially to a recovering perfectionist, and if I’m not careful, I start working out of my own strength and become worn down and worn out in the process.

Recently our Vintage Women’s ministry hosted a night of prayer and we women were invited to a quiet space to just sit with candles and quiet music, our journals and Bibles—and just be. When the evening started and things got quiet, I stared at a blank page in front of me. It was the first time in months I had opened the journal. Below is an excerpt of what I wrote: 

How does one in fact “be still”? What does it look like to stop in the middle of the busyness of life? If I stop spinning all the plates, will everything shatter into a million tiny pieces? Would that be a bad thing—to be broken?

I wonder if anyone else has ever felt this way—scared of what would happen if they stopped trying so hard. Is anyone else afraid of the sound of their perfectly crafted world crashing all around them? Are our ideas of perfection in our lives binding us to unrealistic expectations and constant striving that ultimately leave us feeling tired, inadequate, and unfulfilled? Are we so afraid of being imperfect that we refuse to stop, refuse to allow our Helper to be our help?

The theme verse for our women’s prayer night was Psalm 46:10: “Be still and know that I am God.” However, reading the entire Psalm, my eyes, heart and mind kept stopping a few verses earlier at verse 5, which says “God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns.” Biblical scholars suggest that the “her” referenced here is the church, and these scholars are probably right, but in that moment when I was needing to hear this the most, the “her” I kept reading was ME, as if the text was saying “God is in the midst of ME; I will not be moved; God will help ME when the morning dawns.”

Those are three powerful and beautiful truths for a girl learning to stop.

God is in the midst of me

As followers of Christ, we believe that we are actually indwelt with the Holy Spirit. As confusing as the details of all that are, it is such a joyful truth to know that our God does not assist or love us from afar. He is so near. When life feels like it’s all just too much, when the tasks or to-do lists or situations we are facing seem insurmountable, what a comfort it is to be reminded that we are not alone. In fact, all we have to do is stop and remember—He is here. Simply being aware of that can completely change our mindset.

I will not be moved

Because God is with us and within us, we don’t have to be tossed to and fro in the swirling currents of life. It is so easy to get caught up in our circumstances, in the stressful situations right in front of us, in the drama all around us, but we can take heart in knowing that we can stand firm in our faith in an immovable God who will never leave us.

God will help me when the morning comes

I’ve noticed a pattern in my worry life. It seems that anxiety and fear are most overwhelming to me in the night. It is when I wake up at 2 am and start the list of worries running through my head that I feel most alone. It is in these moments that I find myself repeating that God is my help, and He is faithful. I just need to trust Him to do what He has promised. And every time I finally drift back to sleep, I awake to a new morning. What a beautiful reminder that His mercies are new every single day. 

To anyone else out there struggling with worry or stress, a task list that feels too long, a schedule that is too full, be encouraged by Psalm 46:5. I know I have been. I need to repeat it to myself daily. When we start feeling like it’s all just too much, we don’t need to immediately craft an action plan. The first thing we need to do is stop. Breathe. Remember. God is with us. We will not be moved. God will help us when the morning comes. These aren’t just cheap words or a cheesy mantra. They are life-giving truth in a world that is all too often draining our souls.