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  • Rachel Burchfield

For those, like me, who struggle with being still

If you’re like me, your pre-COVID-19 life was overwhelmingly busy. From dusk until dawn I was running to this meeting and that lunch and this happy hour and that board meeting or charity event or birthday party or dinner date, and on and on and on. My schedule was so packed that I barely had time to breathe as I sprinted from one commitment to another.

And, now, nothing. Absolutely nothing. Aside from the endless conference calls and Zoom meetings and walks around my backyard to keep my sanity intact during the workday, my calendar is starkly empty. My social calendar, normally full, is now bare – something I longed for, if I’m honest, until it actually happened.

As much as I am concerned about our country and our world’s physical health as coronavirus sweeps across both, I am equally as concerned about our mental health. Left with so much time – so much alone time, in particular, for many of us – our thoughts are prone to run rampant. At least if you’re like me. And as a person who is accustomed to being so busy that I barely have time to think, I suddenly have a lot of time to do just that.

For one of the first times in my adult life, I am being forced to be still.

Maybe I, you, and we needed this. Maybe we needed a break from the rush and the jam-packed calendars and the madness. As William Penn so beautifully put it, “In the rush and noise of life, as you have intervals, step home within yourselves and be still. Wait upon God, and feel His good presence; this will carry you evenly through your day’s business.”

Well, we certainly have plenty of those intervals now. But, at least for me, this sudden life 180 has been problematic. I find myself grieving, not, thankfully, for a loved one I have lost to COVID-19, but for a life I once knew, a life that I don’t know when or if will return. I have learned, in my young 33 years, that whenever I encounter a problem in life – as I am right now, struggling to adapt to my new normal – I need to ask myself What is this problem trying to teach me? Because I truly believe that our problems, our trials, and our setbacks – as painful as they may be – are tailor-made and designed for us specifically by a God who loves us and a God who is trying to teach us something.

For me, through prayer, I’ve found the answer: I have a real problem slowing down, being still, living in the moment, and not hopscotching my way as quickly as possible to the next goal, the next step, the next win, the next mile marker in life. I have a real problem just being. And never have I been forced to face that problem more than right now.

The more I have delved into it, the more I’ve learned that resting, recouping, and – dare I say it – relaxing are actually Biblical commands. It’s funny, as someone who so detests stillness, that my favorite verse in the Bible is Exodus 14:14: “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” When I encounter a problem in life – be it my new normal or something entirely different – I am not used to sitting still. I am used to taking action, fighting back, working it out myself – or at least trying to, and, usually, fixing it. But I am learning more and more – as I am sure so many of us are – that I am not in control at all, that I am not able to fix the world’s problems or, every often, even my own, and when I try, I do a really terrible job as the general manager of the universe.

I am learning, more than anything right now, to be still and let God be God.

If you too struggle with this, I hope these verses provide you hope, as they have me. Whatever you’re facing – and I know most of us have a laundry list of issues we are tackling – I invite you to join me in my new practice of, as Psalm 46:10 puts it, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Take a breath, and know God is in control. Here are some of my favorite verses about being still, waiting, patience, and worry that I pray will help carry you through this season:

· “But Moses told the people, ‘Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today…” – Exodus 14:13

· “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” – Exodus 14:14

· “Now then, stand still and see this great thing the Lord is about to do before your eyes!” – 1 Samuel 12:16

· “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” – Psalm 27:14

· “Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for Him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes.” – Psalm 37:7

· “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” – Psalm 46:10

· “Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken.” – Psalm 62:5-6

· “For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, ‘In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength…” – Isaiah 30:15

· “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” – Isaiah 40:31

· “‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in Him.’ The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” – Lamentations 3:24-26

· “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” ­– Romans 12:12

· “And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” ­– Philippians 4:7

· “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” – 1 Peter 5:7

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