Learning to be still with God
I have always thought that I tried to make the most of my time by constantly staying busy. There have been times in my life where, between the job that pays my bills and the creative projects I love to do, I haven’t seen my home for more than four or five hours for every twenty four- and that was to get some much needed but not enough sleep. I am certainly a product of my generation in the sense that I have always, always glorified being busy.
When I ended my engagement and felt totally lost, I threw myself into sixteen hour workdays- sometimes longer ones. I was in my office by 6 am so I could leave by 2, only to stay at the theatre until midnight or later. I pretty much kept up this trend to only slight variances in time until I moved to Raleigh, so nearly three years total. I spent a lot of time doing things and creating art, but I was exhausted. And unfulfilled. Certainly the creative aspects of my personality had their fill. But something was missing. Attending church on Sunday mornings and the “martini sunday” meetings my group of church girlfriends held helped to quell whatever longing was within me to a degree, but I was still unwilling to really listen to what it was God was telling me I needed. If you move fast enough for long enough, you can indeed stop thinking about the tough stuff. The problem with that is that it does and it will come back around, regardless of how many years you put it off. There will be a time you have to think about and work through the tough stuff.
I’ve prayed a lot for patience and understanding the last few weeks. I’ve been at odds with myself, wondering what I’m doing here and just who I thought I was that I could pick up a perfectly well lived life and move it, expecting things to go smoothly. That is indeed my human selfishness- not that I had the desire or the bravery to pick up and move to a new place again- but that I expected it not to be a challenge or that God wasn’t using this time in my life as a period of growth and transition. Short sided human error. I always default to thinking I’m the one in control.
The last couple of lessons at church have encouraged prayer and fasting as a means to spend time with God. The current devotional I had keeps urging my to spend time with God. The two daily inspirations I read have been encouraging stillness and… time with God. After a (harrowing for her I’m sure) conversation with my eldest sister about a week ago, one in which she listened to my sob story until 1 am and told me that even though she loves me and selfishly wishes I could move home tomorrow my ass is stuck in Raleigh for both my safety and peace of mind, I received another devotional in the mail from her.
Ok, look, it takes a LOT of Jesus to keep both my spirit and my mouth on track. Don’t judge me for four devotionals- it’s a thing.
Anyway… the last two lessons in this new devotional are also, you guessed it, encouraging my trust in and time with God.
Let me prepare you for the day that stretches out before you. I know exactly what this day will contain, whereas you have only vague ideas about it… there is a better way to be prepared for whatever you will encounter today: spend quality time with Me…Trust that I am with you each moment, whether you sense My presence or not. A thankful, trusting attitude helps you to see events in your life from My perspective.
If I were being hard headed and still insistent on refusing this message, I could say that God has 100% perfected his nagging skills. But that’s not what it is. I see this message in every nook and cranny of religion I grab at because He knows that I need it. He knew long before I did that I need it. Perhaps I have not found a theatre to give my time to, a creative job that takes up two thirds of my day, or friends I can call at the drop of a hat to go out because God is calling on me to be still right now.
Rather than stay so jam-packed busy that I don’t have time to eat, much less to think, I need to stay home, have hours to myself to think and to spend with Him. God is calling on me to cultivate a better and stronger relationship with him. Sometimes that happens through struggle. We’ve all read it so many times in other people’s ministries. We just don’t like it when struggle stops being words on a page and starts being a very real, tangible thing in our own lives. Ok, I can’t speak for you but I know that’s the case with me, anyway.
For years I have played a cat and mouse game with the things that have happened in my life. My mother’s drug addiction and abandonment of us kids, not knowing who my father is and the epic poem level saga of THAT drama, the crimes my brother committed against my cousins and me, and then several other young women, the death of my best friend and grandmother. I put it all in a box of “that’s too much for me to touch or for anyone else to hear about. They will certainly judge me as damaged goods if I let those things out.” If emotions in regards to these things came up, I let them assault me suddenly and quietly in between rehearsals and classes and meetings at my real jobs. That is not any way to know myself or to move beyond the things that shaped my young life- that’s allowing them to shape my adult life. That is not any way to trust God. That is not any way to trust any of the myriad of good, kind, healthy, loving people God has put into my life- none of whom are there by accident.
This is not to say these things should be on my mind every day, or that they are. They aren’t and they won’t be, because I do have a happy life here and now. But if we do not deal with and completely walk through things that have happened, a part of us stays stuck in them. Even if it’s a small, subconscious part. I’ve spent the last (almost) ten years running from that practice. It’s as if someone opened the cage door in California and I took off, but haven’t stopped to breathe since. There was so much health and happiness and building a new life by myself that had to be done, I tried to abandon the old one instead of realizing it was a part of the patchwork quilt, too. And that it’s place in that patchwork should be accepted and embraced with love and trust for God and His will. Not normalized. Just accepted.
I’m super bad at praying by myself. I do it because we are called to do it- but I do not feel that way when others pray with me. Perhaps they’re just better at it. For me, writing to God and about God and the lessons He presents to me is easier and just as if not more effective than talking to the air, hoping He hears me. Writing it down, whether it’s here for you sorry souls I’ve tricked into reading this, or handwriting it in a journal, is my time spent with God to reflect on the things he is so clearly telling me to do.
Right now He is very clearly telling me to calm the heck down, take a minute to breathe, trust in His will completely- not in the half assed way I like to do it- and know that this is a time of transition to peace and understanding in my life if I can find it in myself to walk with Him completely. Well, that’s not a tall order at all.
I’m going to have to move my devotional reading and subsequent writing to night time. This is too much before coffee, God.