Sitting Still in the Scary

Yesterday was a soul-nourishing kind of day.  There was nothing spectacular that occurred. But it was filled with people and conversations that were real and raw and straight from the heart. The kind of conversations that make you grateful for your humanity. Because when we all recognize our humanity, we can all be human together. It’s nice to be human with fellow humans.

A huge part of being human is the never-ending struggle to find meaning and hold on to hope. This is especially difficult when the thing that we’ve placed our hope in has died or gotten lost on its journey to find us. Or, when we’re caught in a sort of Groundhog Day pattern of monotony and we have no idea how to break free. All of these feelings can be summed up in one word: trapped.

Truth be known, this is how I’ve been feeling lately. Feeling trapped by perfectionism and the need to always be doing something more. But the thing with doing more is that more never feels like enough. A true catch twenty-two. I’m realizing that perfectionism is this monster that once given what it demands, will only keep demanding more. It’s a monster with a bottomless pit for a stomach. It’s never satisfied. And the only way to silence the monster is by starvation. Which is where I am. Trying to starve the monster that has been feeding my ego for the past 25+ years. Anyone who has made it to this point knows that the longer you starve the monster, the more it rears it’s ugly head and demands to be fed. But, when that monster of my heart rears its head, it is met with a firm resistance by my mind, who has been given strict instructions to stop feeding the monster. It gives me strict instructions to stop doing and just be. Being is hard. Being feels unnatural, even lazy. But being brings life.

This week, when the monster inside was screaming at me, I felt discouraged. I felt like I had taken about a thousand steps backwards. I felt like I was fighting a losing battle. I was following the instructions that I had been given to “be still” and yet, I felt that things were only getting worse. The storm inside of me was raging and questioned whether or not being still was the best course of action. It definitely didn’t feel like the safest or most natural course of action. But then I read this:

“You will be delivered by returning and resting; your strength will lie in quiet confidence.”
Isaiah 30:15

The context of this whole segment was God speaking to the Israelites of what they needed to do to win the battle – return and rest. However, because the Israelites were letting their fear dictate their actions, they instead wanted to do the logical thing and run away and escape on horseback. This was their folly and a warning that it would lead to destruction. God doesn’t always work in logic. He works in the unknown depths of knowing the human heart. With that, he will often request us to do things that feel unnatural, counterintuitive, and even unwise. But God – Knower of All and Healer of Hearts – is asking us to hush our instincts and sit still in the scary. Mercy, redemption and freedom are all hiding inside the stillness. But we need to be willing to enter (and often sit in) the place that scares us in order to get to the gift that awaits us on the other side. As Corrie ten Boom puts it, “When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer.”

What are you being asked to do that feels unnatural and scary? And what is the reward on the other side of taking that risk?

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