Stillness — the action of finding God

Be Still. God knows I heard this often as a child.  I remember one time my mom promising me a new doll if I would just sit still for ten minutes.  When you are a kid, ten minutes is an impossibility, a lifetime, a duration that exists in fairytales along with “happily ever after.”

Stillness remains a challenge for me.  By far, the hardest part of writing is getting myself to sit down.  I reheat my coffee, let the dog out, tell the cats they are pretty, stuff my face with white cheddar popcorn, nibble chocolate, check email, Facebook, scoop kitty litter, and reheat curdled coffee again.  Then, I sit, twitch, and fidget for a bit before I succumb to the stillness that begets words. It’s like an exorcism.

“Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

I am part of a group of women at my church who will be hosting a retreat this month, and we chose this as our theme.  It’s not a message we hear often, and it is certainly counter to what society encourages. Stillness is a renegade concept, a weapon that destroys the inauthentic notions of life.  I associate it more with someone like Yoda in a galaxy far, far away than I do anyone on our planet.

Our world teaches us our value is tied to busyness.  Go faster, be efficient, do more, be more, make more, and have more.  But for heaven’s sake, don’t be still.  Don’t stop and smell the roses.  Get them in the ground and check it off your list. Or better yet, pay someone to do it.  Your time is too valuable.  You need to be producing.

The message is clear, if you are still, the world will pass you by.  You will be considered slovenly.   You will miss out.  You will fail to measure up. You might as well be a concrete statue for pigeons to stoop (and poop) on.

When we believe these messages, eventually our motion spins out of control.  We lose touch with who we are called to be, the things we enjoy, and who matters most. We get lost and dizzy from all our spinning.  And tired.  So many of us are tired.

Last year for Lent, I challenged myself to spend ten minutes a day in stillness with God.  I was terrified.  I didn’t want to commit to such an endeavor and not honor it.  Usually, the things we need most are the hardest to do, the least appealing, and met by the most resistance.  But I decided to be brave and embrace the stillness that always eluded me.

And you know what?  I didn’t turn green like Yoda or get soiled by pigeons.  I didn’t even feel like demons were being dispelled from my body like I do when I sit to write.  I didn’t miss a single day of my commitment.

Contrary to what we may think about motion, the real action begins with stillness.  I was more calm, aware of myself, closer to God, and felt a genuine sense of peace.  It was so much more of an intentional way to pray.  I even read scripture before I started my timer so I felt more deliberate about my conversation with God.

I continued my habit for a while after Lent and then slowly traded the stillness for the unregulated motion that’s so much easier to fall into.  Like a child, I resist.  But I know that stillness waits for me, wants for me, and will embrace me anytime I am willing to surrender to its calm.

And the reward for stillness is far greater than a new toy.  It is a chance to sit with the knowing that is God.

Want more to help you on your Lenten journey read this.  

6 thoughts on “Stillness — the action of finding God

  • February 7, 2018 at 3:32 pm

    I LOVE this message… I was waiting for a presentation to start recently and looked around at the people waiting with me. Some were talking with their neighbors but most were on their cell phones. This technology has allowed us to be so productive and for us to better our world in many ways, but it also gives us the Internet world at our fingertips. Natural points of stillness can easily be filled… I don’t judge the people on their cell phones. I’m usually one of them. But it made me think about the concept of being still and the value of practicing it – for myself and for my children. I’d love some details on how you managed to incorporate the stillness into your day…. thank you for sharing this message!

    • February 7, 2018 at 5:49 pm

      “Natural points of stillness,” I love the way you phrase that because you are right that there are points throughout the day where we used to have these natural pauses but the rise of technology has diverted us from these rest points. Even in the car, I am always on my phone (blue tooth so I try to be safe about it) so I am never really “at rest.” Sadly, I don’t think being still is going to happen on its own very often. We are going to have to be deliberate about choosing it. A few minutes can make a real difference though and maybe when we connect the “results” we get from it to a better, more meaningful life we will be more motivated. I remember reading about Mathew Kelly when he started going to mass daily how much better it made the rest of his day and how much more focused, motivated, and productive he became. I guess it goes back to scripture we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. We just have to sit still long enough to garner our strength!

  • February 6, 2018 at 6:09 pm

    Guess what I just did???? Downloaded (or uploaded – not sure which) a meditation app recommended by my co-worker. Can set your meditation from 5 minutes on up. I think I AM going to do that for Lent – along with my normal – no cookies thing (except on Sunday!!) So quiet purposeful stillness – here I come!!

    • February 6, 2018 at 10:57 pm

      Good for you! I really was nervous to take it on for Lent because I was afraid I couldn’t stick to it. But it was easier and nicer than I imagined. I think you will get a lot of it. I would love to know what you think of the app. I am not sure if that would “get in my way somehow.” I really liked the quiet of the experience. Good luck with the cookies! The prayerful stillness will be a piece of cake next to that! (Ha! You can have cake!)

  • February 6, 2018 at 2:07 pm

    Great writing!!! Having worked outside of the home for so many years and now being retired, I have only recently realized that it is ok to be still. There is great value in stillness as
    there is in busyness.

    • February 6, 2018 at 8:41 pm

      Yes, different value but they both have their place. Balance might be the hardest thing next to stillness! Congrats on your retirement!

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