“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10a
I am rarely still. I start the day in motion and end the day in motion, filling each moment with as much activity as I can. Some nights, I’m not even still in my sleep – I can tell by the pillows thrown on the floor, quilts laying askew on my bed, and the dark circles under my eyes.
Yet, it is in the stillness where lessons are learned, the still small voice is heard, peace is felt and your inner pilot light is found.
- Be still in chaos. A couple of summers ago, I took a quick weekend vacation to Disney with a girlfriend. It was the middle of summer, too hot to take children through the park. But it was the perfect weather to go to the water park. Amidst crowds of red-faced parents and over-excited children, I drifted around and around the lazy river. Fingers and toes trailing in the cold water, head thrown back to see the sunlight dappling through tree leaves. As I lazily swirled around in my tube, that still small voice in my head said, “BE still and know that I am God. Be STILL and know that I am God. Be still and KNOW that I am God. Be still and know that I AM GOD.” And I was still. And I knew that He is God. I needed that reminder that day. On the five-hour drive to Orlando, my friend and I agreed we were leaving our problems (which were mighty and weighty) at the Georgia state line. If necessary, we’d pick them up, like unwelcome hitchhikers, on our way back home. Maybe that’s why God’s voice could make it through all the clutter and chaos to be heard so clearly that day. Or maybe it was the stillness.
- Be still in stress. Even as fast as I move, some days I cannot keep up with the demands of my office. When I get to my desk in the morning, there are already forty-two emails and half a dozen voice mail messages, all demanding my immediate attention. Files rise on my desk like high-rise condos, blocking my view of the world. I’m like a chicken, being plucked one feather at a time. On those days, being able to find a few minutes of stillness make the difference between sanity and insanity. I’ve been known to lie on my office floor, legs reclined up the wall in the classic yoga pose Viparita Karani (legs up the wall). Just a few minutes of stillness, my legs up the wall, calms my mind, letting me get back into the fray stress-free.
- Be still in motion. I started walking last April. Nice, slow half-mile walks. The months progressed and the miles added up. In July, I graduated to the slowest run in the history of running. The half-mile walk became a mile and a half run on week days and a slow, easy 5K on weekends. The hotter it was outside, the later I ran, until I ended up going out at 9:30 or later most nights. Nobody around, the neighborhood dogs settled in for the night, it was just me and the Carolina moon. I’d run along at my baby pace and pour out my heart to God. In my darkest days, I felt like God had turned His back on me. In the stillness of those hot Carolina nights, I found Him again.
- Be still in heartache. Everyone has had their heart broken, by their lover or spouse, their children, God or life. I’m not special or unique. My heartbreak isn’t worse than anyone else’s. Not deeper, or more painful. But it was complete and devastating. And it taught me lessons I’ll never forget. Pain can have physical weight, weighing you down as surely as concrete in your shoes. When you don’t have the strength to take another step, lie to another soul about how you’re doing just fine, pretend for one more minute that your heart is just fine, just stop. Be still. Crawl into bed, curl up in the fetal position and do not move an inch. The pieces of my heart were stitched back together in the stillness of those nights spent curled in my bed.
- Be still in grief. Some days, life is so easy it feels like standing on the edge of the ocean watching the waves effortlessly come and go. Other days, grief sneaks up on me in giant, crashing waves, catching me and dragging me into the undertow, sand swirling around my head so thickly it blocks out the sun. Grief for the life I thought I’d have. Grief for the marriage I fought for and lost. Anyone who lives near the ocean knows the fear of being caught up in the undertow and swept away. Grief is like that – it catches you when you least suspect it and sweeps you away from your life and your loved ones. Anyone who lives near the ocean also knows if the undertow catches you, the best thing you can do is be still and watch your air bubbles. They always float toward the surface. If you are still, you can float to the surface, too.
I am rarely still. But I’ve learned the value in being still because in the stillness lies the knowing.
Question: When is the last time you were still? What lessons were waiting for you?