Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Art of Being Still

There is an art to being still.  I have not mastered that art.  My mind runs 1,000 miles a minute.  I analyze everything and reanalyze it.  I try to figure things out often before it's time for me to know what it is I'm trying to figure out.  I think, re-think and then think some more.  My mind is my worst enemy.  And being still is like the unattainable Holy Grail.  

The past couple of months, God has been trying to "help" me master this art, however.  And I don't like it.  He tries this every so often, and every time I fight it.  I know He is trying to work a change within me, but I don't like change.  Well, I do like change...if it's fun or if I can see what the effect of that change will be.  I don't like change that is hard or when I have no idea at all what the purpose of the change is.  But still He works.  I often feel like that piece of pottery that keeps flopping over as the potter tries to mold it...that stubborn piece that just won't mold into the shape it's supposed to.  But, ever patient, God keeps molding.  ("So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him."  Jeremiah 18:3-4)

I told my friend the other day that I feel like I'm in a state of being unsettled.  I am honestly at a point in my life where I have no idea where the road is leading.  I know things that I want to happen, people I want to have in my life, my dreams and goals for my future.  However, I see no clear direction.  At all.  The past couple of months I have questioned, doubted, cried, laughed, talked, prayed.  And yet, God seems to remain silent. I know He is there.  But He is silent.  And it's in these moments that I need to be still and know.  Did I mention I'm not good at being still?

I have three trimesters left of grad school, and while I'm excited about the end being near, I am beginning to question where I go from here.  There will be decisions to make and change will happen.  I turn 40 this year.  And my life is so different from what I thought it would be by now.  Not bad...just different.  I'm thankful for the things I've experienced and accomplished in my almost 40 years.  But those deepest desires have yet to be fulfilled.  I want to start a private practice soon.  And there are more decisions to be made and more change.  And I feel unsettled and feel like I don't really have a clear direction right now.  There are several questions to be answered before I can know which path to take.  Questions that I ask God daily.  Questions that still have no answer.  Questions that, so far, God has chosen to remain silent about.

Like I said, the past couple of months He has been working on me.  I'm learning to be patient (my weakest attribute by far) and wait on Him.  I'm learning not to jump to conclusions.  I'm learning to not do the same thing I've always done.  And the hardest?  I'm learning to change my thought patterns and trying to bring my thoughts (which are my worst enemy) under His control.  And I can see change taking place.  Not the fun, easy kind.  This change has been difficult, tough and sometimes knocks me down.  But I know it is for the good.  I know it is all part of God making me into the woman He made me to be.  And I'm learning to be thankful for these "growing" times...even though I don't like them when I'm smack in the middle of them.

Which brings me back to being still.  I pray constantly.  That is one thing I've learned to pray without ceasing.  Though at times, I am sure God would like a break.  I know I'm one of His "problem children" at times.  But I pray.  There is the story of a judge in the Bible who finally answered a woman's request because of her persistence. (Luke 18:1-7)  And I have taken that story to heart.  When I pray, I am persistent.  Probably to a fault.  It's not that I don't think God heard me the first time or that He needs reminding.  But it is through that persistent prayer that I find peace.  But I often find I'm the one doing a lot of the talking.  Yes, God speaks to my heart and gives me peace when I'm at the bottom and my emotions are running amok.  But I rarely take time to be still and just sit in His presence.

Psalm 46:10 says, "Be still and know that I am God..."  I know that God is God, that He is all powerful, that He has my best interests and the best interests of those I pray for at heart.  But do I really KNOW God?  Do I really take the time to be still just let Him show me His power and mercy and love?  Life gets so crazy and so busy, and we sometimes need breaks from life, from the routines, from the chaos, from the bad news, from the trouble, from the good and the bad...we need time with our Father.  It is in these times we find strength to deal with life.  

So I'm learning to be still.  This is not my favorite part of God's work in me.  But I know He is working something greater for my good.  I don't like to wait.  And God knows that about me.  But He also knows that what He is working out for me, the things I can't see, the things I don't understand...those things are far greater and more important than my dislike of waiting.  So He would rather me suffer a little over waiting than miss out on what He has planned for my life.  

So I wait...  And learn the art of being still.  

Be Still And Know by Steven Curtis Chapman

I Will Listen by Twila Paris