what does “be still” actually mean?

photo-1535979337736-88411d799040You know what no one warns you about when you have kids?

Eventually, they stop napping. I know this is like, common knowledge, but it still kind of comes as a shock to the system. Even though my kids don’t sleep in the afternoon, we still have “rest time.” They have to go upstairs in separate rooms and rest. They can watch a movie, read a book, whatever. Some days they lean into this and really rest. Other days… they’re bouncing, jumping, running into each other’s rooms. I enforce rest time because I need a break, but even more than that, I know they need to be forced to be still and to be alone.

The flowy words of “Be Still” are literally everywhere. Signs, pillows, jewelry. All over the Bible, God’s reminding us that stillness is supposed to be our posture.

But honestly, what the heck does that look like? I’ve been so challenged on the ideas of rest and stillness lately because they just go against my nature. For too many reasons to name, I keep myself really busy. My mind and my body just constantly remain on the go, until they both just give up and I remember that I need to stop more than once in a while.

I’ve wondered if we really embrace this idea of stillness or if we’ve created an idea of it in our minds. What stillness isn’t? It isn’t comfort. I completely believe that sacred and restful spaces are truly honoring to God. They give me a calm place to be, and a beautiful place to share with my family. To read, to rest, to laugh, to just be.

But in the calmest of places, our minds can still spin, can’t they? Rest is both external and internal. But true stillness can only be reached on the inside. With rest, I can escape. By watching TV or scrolling or doing something. Stillness is the opposite of doing. It halts and silences my doing and invites me to just be.

Stillness is what leads to fullness. Being fully seen and known; it’s the deep parts I allow Jesus into by being still. It’s breathing and not presenting the pieces that I’ve chosen for God to see. It’s allowing Jesus to choose where He wants to go. I like to lay out my words and my requests to God in categories. With expectations of where and how He’s allowed to change me. It’s all so unintentional, really. But true stillness isn’t about a lack of movement. It’s a release of control.

It isn’t just candles and coffee.

It isn’t passive.

Stillness is reckless.

It’s bold.

It’s fierce.

It’s complete trust.

Are you tired of pretending? Pretending to yourself, to everyone else, and to God? Are you tired of trying to convince yourself that if you’ve reached a comfortable place, then you can finally be still?

I’m just wondering if we can choose this kind of faith together. The kind that says to God,

I’m tired of being unable to sleep at night. I’m tired of everyone thinking I have it together, when on the inside, I’m crumbling. I want stability. When I say I trust God to fight for me, I want to mean it. So God, I choose your way. I choose to believe that even though life is swirling around me at 100 miles per hour, I don’t have to follow. My heart and my mind can choose to be still and let you fight it for me. I won’t fall into the lies that the world tells me about where my contentment comes from. I choose to take a step each day toward complete trust in You. I’ll say I trust you even when I’m not sure. When my body is still and my mind still races, I will remind myself over and over that You have me. You hold me. You have made me. You sustain me. I have nothing to fear. My life isn’t even my own. I’ll confront the instincts I have to fight all of this stuff on my own. I’ll wait. Even when I don’t see you doing things the way I want. I’ll wait. I’ll trust. I’ll stop talking and listen.”

Silence and stillness is a fight. It makes us uncomfortable because the world has convinced us that we have to be busy and productive to matter.

If you’ve found yourself unable to be still and calm, take a minute and ask yourself why. Have you convinced yourself that comfort is equivalent to being still and waiting on God? Where are you having a hard time just stopping? It’s not too late. You can choose it today, now. Whether or not your day is full, God is inviting you to wait on Him.


Quiet your heart in His presence and pray; keep hope alive as you long for God to come through for you… The steps of the God-pursuing ones follow firmly in the footsteps of the Lord, and God delights in every step they take to follow Him.” [Psalm 37:7, 23-24]

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