I came across an intriguing quote that I want to share with you tonight. Though it was attributed to the very popular Anonymous, it goes like this: “Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of these things and still be calm in your heart.”
I find this quote so fitting for this time we’re in, because pandemic or not, we live in a world where there are countless messages, voices, activities, and things vying for our attention, our allegiance, and our time. So much so that if we do not take some time to “be still,” and to allow ourselves to be present with God in an uninterrupted way, that time will never find us.
Of course, when it comes to “being still,” there are lots of reasons that we may have for why it is hard to take that time- whether it’s school, work, kids, caring for aging parents, activities, meetings, and social commitments, each of us has our own blend of things on our to do list.
Some people may think that only introverts need quiet time. Others may thrive on the need to be needed. Still others are downright uncomfortable with the idea of silence or being alone with your own thoughts.
Yet whatever the case may be, I’d like to invite you to consider that if we don’t learn to stop, be still, and in that time, be reminded of who and whose we are, eventually, our primary relationships, our health, and even the quality of our work will begin to suffer.
Several years ago, in order to keep better tabs on all of my own commitments, I started to color code my calendar; pink was for birthdays and anniversaries, orange was for work, yellow for Thomas’s commitments, etc. And what I eventually discovered is that there is a direct correlation between the amount of color on my calendar and how I feel about life in general.
When there’s too much color without many breaks in between, I start to feel stressed, and even strung out. In contrast, when I make- and even schedule in- time to be still and to literally take a few deep breaths, I almost always feel calmer and more at peace– both with who I am and with life as a whole.
And what I realized is that this is largely because that time to be still and allow God to minister to me helps me remember that before anything else– before being a wife or mom or pastor or daughter or friend, I am a beloved child of God. This reality means that it’s not up to me to keep the world spinning; that always, we begin anew; and that even when we mess up, our mistakes are not what define us.
Just like our physical bodies need water, food, and exercise in order to thrive, our hearts need time to just be and to connect with God. Some days, finding even a spare five minutes may seem impossible, but the reality is, if we don’t make time for these moments, we’ll eventually dry up and have nothing left to give.
Sometimes, giving ourselves a few moments of stillness will mean marking that time off on our calendars, going for a drive and listening to music, or taking a walk in the woods. Sometimes, it will mean putting down your phone, turning off your screens, and simply being present with the people around you.
But in this day and age when doing nothing is all too often thought of as being lazy, and when technology breaks into our thoughts, our attentiveness, and our interactions with others repeatedly, we all need reminders that we are worthy of time to be still, as well as moments that help increase our appreciation of silence.
For me, taking these small breaks are what make it possible for me to remember that my identity comes from God and from who God says I am. And when I do that, it not only makes me a better mom, wife, and pastor, it also makes me better able to respond to whatever comes my way with a clear head and with the awareness that no matter what happens, God is with me and for me. May the same be true for you.