Right now, I’m living in a period of change and nearly constant trial-and-error.
I’ll readily admit that in my recent lifestyle changes and job transition, I’ve fallen back into my default mode where I feel the need to cram all my life experiences from day to day into either “good” or “bad,” “black” or “white.” My default mode does not tolerate the unresolved, in-between, not-sure-what-this-is, gray areas.
I don’t want unfinished. I don’t want “in progress,” “to be determined,” or “under construction.”
No. I want perfection, and I want it now. In my relationships, in my housekeeping, in my work, in my appearance, in everything. With the blinders of my human nature over my eyes, all I want is for things to be finished and tidy and wrapped up in neat little packages and put on a shelf so that I can live with peace of mind, all day, every day.
Yeah, okay, that sounds so great. Right?! Except life REALLY doesn’t lend itself to that idea… not now, and not ever.
In church on Sunday, the pastor told us all somewhere toward the end of his message to just take a moment and pray. He had a specific topic he wanted us to ask God about, something that related to his sermon. But, by that point I was thinking about lunch, and I zoned out on the guided prompt part (sorry, Lloyd).
Anyway, I closed my eyes and took a deep breath and I nonchalantly prayed, “Well God, hey. It’s been a while I guess. I’ve been working really hard at things and I feel like I’ve got my life sorta together for once, so I haven’t really needed to talk to you that much… so… yeah…”
Now, I’ve never audibly heard the voice of God, but He’s spoken to me before just by bringing things to my mind– images, phrases, memories. And I can’t explain it, but when it happens, I know it’s Him. So while I was halfheartedly telling Him that I didn’t need His help (which, LOL at that idea), I felt this powerful stirring in my soul, and He said, “Be still. Stop striving.”
Here’s what happened in my head in that moment:
Like a true workaholic, my gut response was, “I don’t want to be lazy! I can’t just stop.”
His reply? “Laziness is irrelevant.”
“My grace is sufficient for you. Live in it.”
“Um. What. Striving is what got me success, right? Come on, I can’t just quit.”
Again, I just heard, “Be still.”
In this phase of my life, I’m living in the discomfort of the unresolved. Like most everyone, I experience conflict and pain, along with the daily worries of life, and I carry the weight that I can’t go to bed at night with all my ducks in a row.
Isn’t it just like God to speak right into the middle of that struggle I didn’t even know I was having? I thought I was doing fine on my own! Isn’t it just like Him to take a quiet moment, and show me how much I’ve been living by my own human tendencies?
My sinful, “default” mode of living comes with a huge desire want to fix everything I’m going through. I want to fix the hurt and the unfinished things in myself and in others. The voice of Satan (in the form of shame, as always) tells me I need to keep working my butt off to be in the “good,” day in and day out because that’s the only way to earn happiness, earn success, earn favor and earn love.
But God says, no. Just be still. He already favors and loves me because I’m His child. And what He wants from me now is to be still and live in the discomfort of all the unresolved, “in progress” things.
The verse literally says:
“He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted’ …” (Psalm 46:10)
It doesn’t say, “Keep scrambling 24/7 to put everything in an orderly category of black or white, and I will be exalted.”
To exalt Him, I must just BE STILL. Be still in the gray.
As much as I hate that notion, and as much as I’m trying to resist it and may always resist it as a human, I know deep down that He’s commanded us to be still. He doesn’t command us to run around like busybodies and try to keep everything perfectly tidy.
So, if you’re reading this, and you’re right there with me– trying to hold your life together (and maybe even feeling like you’re successful)– I think that constant striving is a sure sign that you need to be still. Take a deep breath, and let’s trust Him in the discomfort of the gray.
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