Learning To Be Still

“One of the greatest dangers to the apprenticeship of Jesus is the exhaustion that comes from an over busy life.”

Less than a week ago, I said goodbye to my Instagram account, @believingbeautiful, for an indefinite amount of time. It was something that had been tugging at my sleeve for longer than I’d like to admit, and I eventually became really good at ignoring the tug. All I had to do was keep scrolling…or turn on my headphones…or exercise…or busy myself with unnecessary tasks. I’m a great productive procrastinator. It wasn’t until the tug became a shout in my face, that I was forced to confront my relationship with Instagram and make a change.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my future lately. In fact, I’ve been spending too much time thinking about my future. I want answers. I want to know what path I should take.

What path am I supposed to take?

What path do I want to take?

All I know for certain, is I’m 22 years old and will graduate from college this year—that’s all I know. After that, this chapter of my life will end and it will be time so start a new chapter that’s full of many question marks and little direction. The problem isn’t a lack of choices, but the problem is being bombarded with too many choices. Because of this, my mind is often cluttered with chaos. I crave rest, but instead, place unrealistic demands on myself that prevent me from being able to find any trace of peace.

Going to school has been routine for the last twenty-ish years. Along the way, people have told me I have plenty of time to figure out my future, while other people have said I’ve run out of time. I need to have a plan, they say. I can’t let my education go to waste. What do I plan to do with my education, I’m asked. Will I ever go back to Australia? Will I stay in Portland?

Big questions have started to erupt and rather than facing them, I’ve instead, started to place my validation into an app on my phone that provides no where near the kind of peace I’m seeking. In a quest to find all the answers, I’ve felt left to my own devices to make something of myself. Telling God I trust Him, but tuning out when He starts to speak. Looking for the right way, while forgetting He is the way.

It was when I saw my follower number increase drastically in one week and began, to even more so, obsessively seek attention from my online community, that I decided to say goodbye to Instagram for a bit of time. I’m an achiever, so things that are healthy in moderation, can very easily become poison in my life.

I don’t want to be that kind of person, I thought.

Psalm 46v10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.”

I think recently, I have known that He is God, but haven’t stood still long enough to remember I am not.

It’s not up to me.

My future does not reside in my own hands.

I am not my creator.

My role as a daughter and queen of the Most High, is to be still and know that He is God.

I’ve been graciously reminded how life is not linear or perfect and is rather, quite messy. It’s an adventure of ups and downs, mountains and valleys, highs and lows. And thank God it is. How boring it would be to know all of the “what if’s!” The truth is, my life doesn’t come to a halt as soon I graduate college. There are many other things that make me, me.

In the quietness of my—less than one week break from social media—I’ve taken time to be still, understanding how life is actually much less rushed than I initially thought it to be. Funnily enough, I have had no anxiety. I have been able to process emotion. My to-do list is less daunting. My sleep is caught up on and I feel less like a zombie and more like a human. There has been no striving. Just being.

There truly is so much beauty in stillness, but we aren’t always patient enough to see the beauty. In the rapid pace that permeates our world, it often does feel like we are left to our own devices.

As someone who lives alone, I can’t stand when my apartment is quiet and will often have music on, or will eat dinner while I listen to a podcast or watch a TV show. Last night however, I was nudged to not to do any of that for once. To just eat in the quiet. To remember I’m not alone, and to treat it as if Jesus were there, sitting at the table with me. And I did. We had a nice, long conversation and afterward, my heart felt fuller than it has in awhile. He’s been teaching me a lot this week.

The other day I was cleaning up my room and noticed the vase I had filled with some greenery and flowers a few days before, sitting next to a picture frame on top of some stacked bins. And as I was cleaning up, I just stopped to admire the vase, realizing how truly joyful it made me. Noticing the beauty.

If only we stood still a while longer. Not rushing from place to place, working all day long, and forgetting to breathe and look to the ordinary moments with appreciation. If only we were to remember that most of our life is indeed ordinary and mundane. It is not to be rushed, it is to be a place where thankfulness and grace abound.

If you’re like me, it is time to dismantle the lie that when you stop “doing”, your life is bound to fall apart. This is not true. This is not God. The truth is that when we stop “doing,” we start living. Saying no to control, and saying yes to adventure, yes to Jesus.

This doesn’t mean life gets easy, it simply means we are no longer alone in our journey. As I prayed about my future and asked God what I was supposed to pursue in the next chapter of my life, I saw an image of myself sitting on the floor of an empty room with doors all around me, questioning which one to open. Being the perfectionist I am, I waited and thought for sure one would light up, uniquely jump out at me, or reveal itself as the “right door.” Thankfully, this is not how God works. He doesn’t choose for us. He is not a Father who wants to control or manipulate our lives. No. Instead, He gave us free will out of his love for us, and asked that we simply acknowledge Him in all our ways—not so that he can boss us around and tell us what to do—but so that he may help direct our paths (Proverbs 3v6).

So, it’s not necessarily about doing the “right” thing or going the “right” way, I’ve begun to understand. It’s simply about going down whichever road I choose, with trust and obedience, so that even when I do fall, his hand be there to guide and protect me (Psalm 139v10).

All of the doors that surround me lead to a beautiful garden of Life. All of the doors that surround you, lead to a beautiful garden of Life. It is up to us to open the door. Not knowing the answers to our circumstances in life can be hard, but remember you are not alone. It’s through our stillness and patience that we are able to better enjoy the uncertainty we find ourselves in.

We all need moments of quiet, and moments to just be. These are the moments that make life worth living. The times when we notice the blooming vase in our room, or the leaves falling down from the tree on a crisp November day. There is no rush. There is no time limit.

I don’t know when I will redownload the Instagram app on my phone, but right now, I’m content. Peaceful and happy. Even in my loneliness, I know I’m not alone. Even in your loneliness, you are not alone. Jesus is with you, and he wants to spend time with you. He wants to hear with you, and he wants to know about your day. And I’ll tell you one thing: He is the best listener I’ve ever come to know. He is my best friend.

Matthew 11v28-30

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

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