The Art of Stillness

A friend who has suffered long stints of emotional abuse from her insane and psychopathic ex mentioned that she believed that God was telling her to “be still.” Normally, as Christians, we tend to say, “Oh yeah, sister, that’s it,” without really giving any thought, because we are so overly zealous: 1) to prove we really are Christians and that we fully understand this phrase, or 2) to veil our guilt that we are not doing this at all in our lives, and it really sounded good. So, I did a double-take and evaluated what ‘be still’ means, and how it applies to my life.

I began to assess what times in my life that I knew God “showed up” in my life. I ascertained that it was when I least expected it; it was almost as if I was looking the other way spiritually when it DID occur. I am trying to develop a ‘spiritual memory’ of sorts in which I can remember ‘what this felt like’ or what outcome came about from a series of prayer events. This sounds strange, but I have begun to ‘see’ outcomes from prayer as ‘campaign results’ in the same vein as social media ads. The truth is, we are outreaching to God for help, so it is in the realm of communication arts to pray. I know I am opening myself up to the dreaded ‘Christian’ criticism by revealing that I think this way.

In assessing what vibes turn the God Power on, I’ve learned this nugget of truth: when I have felt my most passive, lonely, and resigned is when God quickly let me know He was there, in spectacular fashion. I’d prayed, yes, but my validation came when I was my most humbled, insignificant self; resigned to whatever was coming to me, even if that meant permanent isolation and failure. Am I supposed to just be like that all the time? Or am I supposed to be OKAY with being like that all the time? The truth is probably closer to the fact that we draw nearer to God when we just let our emotions go and pray honestly that we can’t do anything with ourselves, and we ask Him to lead us.

This, unfortunately, works against those of us who are Type A control freaks, because it attempts to rewire us. It may cause us to speak more slowly, answer less quickly, or even sit quietly. This, I feel, is the process of developing a spiritual power center and deep communion with God. My friend had tapped into the mojo — in listening and waiting. I am learning that perhaps there is some Power in Passivity with God that I missed somewhere along the way. Sometimes the ‘heavy lifting’ can’t occur until you just simply become incompetent in the area of fixing things.

I realize that this sounds defeatist, but I can tell you it is a pattern that has illuminated itself lately. My grasp on this concept is like the barely visible blue line of that positive early pregnancy test. I CAN see it, but I’m still wondering if it’s really there. “Doing it scared” seems to be the uneasy faith-footing in which we are called to thrive. We may not get what we want, but we will always get what we need (aging adult old-song lyric alert).

Clearly, for those of you more mature than me spiritually, this falls in the realm of ‘blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted’ obviousness. But what if it is something else? What if my spiritual neurons can connect most accurately with the Holy Spirit when I’m what they call ‘still’? When the wind isn’t blowing, it’s still. This may mean I’m learning to silence the noise of expectation, self-preservation, and pride in my blip-blip-blip radar with God. Of course, what you’re going through is wrong, He whispers. But one day, you will dance on the mountain.

I don’t have to tell any of you how this goes against human nature, and against how the world works. This is how I know it’s right on target. Thanks, soul sister. I needed this. Now if I can only get as good at it as you are.

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