Tag Archives: peace

Stillness

Standard

2013… the start of another year of growth in faith, maturity, wisdom, and hopefully, my sense of humor!

First things first- hello! So much has come to fruition in the past several months that blogging has gotten put on the back burner. I hope I haven’t completely lost my audience, because I don’t feel as if this blog is finished yet, although I don’t intend to keep at it forever… that being said, I have several blessings for which to be thankful, the most recent being my job. I not only secured the substitute teaching position, but as usual, God surpassed my ambitions and desires and led me (quite unexpectedly, and without pursuit on my part) to a full time job as a Teacher Assistant! Praise God and his marvelous provision.

The extra income came at precisely the right time because the car, or Sophie as I’ve come to call “her,” hasn’t been feeling well recently and her days are numbered. I trust God completely with the situation though, because blind faith aside, I’ve seen God’s care, guidance, and provision prove true again and again in real and tangible ways. More to come on that story, I imagine.

So that’s what is new. I’m currently dwelling in a period of stillness. Not the stillness of apathy,  or indifference, but the stillness of obedience and God’s peace. There are seemingly lots of external stressors that, by all earthly standards, should be causing me to be in a frenzied panic. But as I keep telling people, I feel stress, but it isn’t distress, it’s eustress; it’s a positive energy, and the fatigue of working in a school full-time, and being so busy- even outside of work- I don’t have time to dwell on the negative.

There’s that saying, “I’m too blessed to be stressed.” It’s really resonating with me right now. God is developing my patience, but more so, I feel He is building upon my understanding. Not understanding of any one thing in particular, but of all aspects of my life; my marriage (this is the biggest area of growth), my faith, of course, and my new job. I have found that all of these periods of waiting for military related things have helped me to strengthen my patience and have given me discernment in all of the aforesaid areas. I know what God’s peace is NOT- I think we’ve all felt and experienced that turmoil before. It’s the feeling that no matter what you do to stay afloat, life keeps trying to drown you. And if that is the opposite of God’s peace, then I know what to stop dwelling on. I don’t have to know the next step, because God already does, and He promises He will catch me if I fall.

When I was in 8th grade, my dad was my principal at a small k-8 school in Northern Illinois. My dad liked to take advantage of every opportunity to have a teachable moment via assemblies or pep rallies. (or so it seemed to me) One specific motivational activity came to mind. The group was based out of one of the area high schools and it was called B.L.I.N.D. It stood for Building Lasting Impressions that Never Die… and seeing as I still remember it in my early twenties, I’d say the organization has lived up to its name. Anyway, we had all gone to the gym for various team building exercises; the trust fall, the “how do we get all the people across the ‘river’ making only one trip at a time” game, and numerous others. The time came for the final challenge- a blindfolded maze walk. The B.L.I.N.D. guides led all of the blindfolded students outside and placed our left hands on a rope. Our task was to follow the rope to the end of the maze, without peeking. But, if at any point we became exasperated and determined we couldn’t complete the maze, we were instructed to stop, raise our hands and ask to be led from the maze. Easy, right?  So I took the rope, and started to walk along, letting the rope guide me through the maze. I could hear people all around me, mere seconds into the maze stopping and asking for help. Seriously?  They had barely even tried! I kept going, confident I could find my way- after all,  I had the rope stretched out before me. Logic said if the rope went from beginning to end, then following it would ultimately get me to the exit. I kept walking. More and more people fell out. I couldn’t believe it!  Where was their perseverance? Where was their iron will? I had the courage and conviction to keep going- I was going to get through that maze! Pretty soon, I noticed that my footsteps were the only ones I could hear… had every one given up? How long was this maze? Did they forget, and leave me outside, blindfolded and alone? I walked a little slower, less and less sure of my steps. My confidence in my ability to find the end of the maze dwindled and at last, I stopped walking. I wondered if turning around and going the way I had come would get me back to the beginning… I didn’t want to be the last one left in the maze, but I certainly didn’t want to give up… I heard a guide say, “Remember, if you need help finding the end, just raise your hand and one of us will come to you…” I had disappointed myself. Not only had I stopped walking,  but here I was about to ask for help, to be led out of the maze.  I hesitantly raised my hand, wondering what the repercussions of giving up would be… a guide came to me and she asked, “do you need help?” My cheeks flushed as I admitted my own defeat. “Yeah… I think I missed a turn or something…” She said okay, and took me by the arm and lead me away from the rope. After we had taken a few steps she instructed me to remove the blindfold. When I took the bandanna from my eyes, I turned to look at where I had ended up, wanting to see how close I had come to finding the end of the maze. I was convince I had gotten close, and was still disappointed in my decision to quit. But as I turned to look back at the rope maze from which I had come, I was shocked to see that I’d been Tricked! Fooled! hoodwinked! Bamboozled!!! It wasn’t a maze at all! It was a giant loop around the asphalt basketball courts! I had been walking in circles… arrogantly, self-assuredly, and blindly walking in circles. I looked at the few of my classmates who were still trudging forward, determined not to seem weak in asking to be led out… and I remember thinking… wow, my pride caused me to look like a fool to all of these guides watching me. And I started to feel something like pity for the few stragglers who hadn’t yet gotten the point of the exercise. All I had to do was stop, admit my own ineptitude and ask for help.

It was hard for me to ask for help that day, and it still is difficult today. I don’t like seeming weak or incapable to my peers, my coworkers, my friends, especially not to my husband… but that’s what we are, isn’t it? We’re all just blindfolded students on a journey to learn to ask for help when we can’t find our way. It’s not about the end of the maze, though that’s what the rope (and society) tells us. It’s about humbling ourselves and casting aside the arrogance and insecurities that keep us walking in circles, and that prevent us from experiencing the fullness of God’s peace.

It’s freeing to finally admit to myself that I’m not capable of making it through a single day in my attempts to “be a good person” on my own. It doesn’t work like that because goodness- righteousness- comes from God, and we can’t receive it until we stop walking in circles and ask Him to guide us to it.

That’s what I’ve been meditating on since the beginning of this new year- I’ve been seeking God’s strength and admitting my weakness. Because even at my best, I am unworthy of His grace, yet he extends it freely to me, and to all who humbly come before Him.

I resolve to quit walking in circles (it’s dizzying, it truly is) and to instead stop and take in the stillness, and let the Father lead me.

Calm Before the Storm

Standard

“You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry parched land where there is no water.” Psalm 63:1

Today is Friday, which means it’s the last weekend of calm before the chaos starts back up this fall. Am I going to miss the calm? Most definitely. Will the challenges I face this fall be rewarding? One can only hope.

I was reading today and discovered something interesting about myself… I am (or used to be) one of those people who always said, “Well, I guess all I can do is pray” as if that were my last resort. I found that rather than carry unnecessary burdens like I almost always do, I could just pray and be done with it! How incredibly, mind-numbingly simple is that? Call on God, and He lifts your burdens. I always seem to struggle with my life’s challenges for as long as I can, until I’m breaking under the pressures of each of my commitments to Church, marriage, family and friends. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

God showed me this morning that by just taking a moment to lay it all out before Him in prayer, I can continue to have calm while the world around me experiences the storm. Funny, I never really get scared of literal storms. I think it goes back to when I was younger… I was at a basketball practice with my Aunt Cat where she attended college. On the way to the college, the sky was looking ominous and dark and as most young girls would be, I was a little… nervous. Anyway, I took a peek out a window in the lobby and noticed the sky was pretty scary looking so I just ducked into a hallway and prayed that the storm would pass us over and that we wouldn’t get a tornado. Shortly after I prayed, I peeked outside again, and the sky looked like it had never even thought of raining. Now maybe twelve years have caused me to remember the event in a more exaggerated way. Who knows? What I do know is that even when I was at my darkest point in life, I always remembered that one instance of prayer that God answered for me, and I think that sliver of hope is what kept me from doing anything stupid when I was in one of my dips of depression.

God hears and answers our prayers. I haven’t feared a literal storm since I was perhaps eight years old. I’m an adult now, and God is reaching me more than I ever thought he could, so why choose fear, when I can choose God’s peace? All it takes is for me to seek God in prayer; maybe an entire thirty seconds out of my day, to just sit and feel connected to God, and bare my anxieties and my concerns, my needs, my wants, my fears to the One who can banish all the bad and make something beautiful, and leave me with a peace that passes understanding. Amen to that.