Be Still…and Stop Worry-Praying, Mom
Have you ever struggled to be still in the moment?
Psalm 46:10 tells us to “Be still and know that I am God.” I’ve sung these words, recited that verse, memorized it, and have it hanging in my house. Yet I wonder if I still (ahem) haven’t grasped what it truly means. Anyone else?
The other day I took my youngest, Rachel, for a swim. My neighbors had generously offered to let us use their beautiful pool while they were out of town. The sun had just ducked behind the trees, and some of the evening critters were busy singing in the trees. The only other noise came from a little dog scaling his fence, jumping into his next-door neighbor’s yard, and then exiting over their shorter gate. (Guess I wasn’t the only one struggling to be still. They caught him a few moments later, in case you wondered.)
Rachel, who is mostly nonverbal with severe autism, did not enjoy the dog show, but she giggled as she kicked the water and even swam some laps with me. We had a wonderful time. As she settled into the corner to play, I swam some more laps, and as my brain does in the quiet, my thoughts started to wander.
My thoughts swam along with me, winding tighter and tighter. What will the future look like for Rachel in a few years? Will someone else take her swimming after I’m too old? Will I start to lose my memory like my dad and then be unable to take care of Rachel? My last oncology visit had some concerning news. Does that mean I might develop cancer again? Who will provide for Rachel financially? Will I get more speech clients soon because my older daughter is close to college?
And on and on. My thoughts rolled over me like giant waves, one fear tumbling into the next.
So then, because we have all been told prayer is a great way to handle anxiety, I started to pray. But instead of praying things like, “God, I know the future belongs to you, and I trust in you,” I started to do what I now realize is worry-pray. “God, please bring me bring another speech client because I need to earn more…” And on and on, basically giving God a to-do list so that he can follow my plan for my life.
And as I turned to make another lap, those words, that tiny scripture washed over my mind. “Be still and know that I am God.”
My thoughts were spiraling and I was forgetting (again) that God is GOD. He created the entire universe with a word. He IS the WORD. He is the truth. He is the life. He is the GREAT I AM. He is outside of time, and is all knowing, all present, and all powerful.
And I am me, trying to do God’s job. And failing for obvious reasons. I have to laugh at myself sometimes, probably because my other alternative is to do some screaming.
But I still struggled. How do I be still in this moment when my worries are trying to drown me?
He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.
This is what I have to keep doing. When the songs in my mouth, mind, and heart become ones of worry, I have to cover those with God’s song. I know we can do this in many ways: reading the Bible, praying scripture, listening to music that contains God’s truth, meditating on a scripture, journaling to God, and more.
In that moment, I chose to replace my worry-praying with thankful-praying. As I lapped across the pool, I started thanking God for little things and big things. I started thanking him for the provision he had provided me today, for the speech and editing clients he had provided me with today. For the fun with Rachel today. For Jesus’s grace. For my family. For the time spent with my dad today.
Slowly, slowly, I let go of tomorrow.
I can’t control tomorrow. In fact, some days my todays feel pretty full. Why am I always asking God to put more on my plate tomorrow instead of just being thankful for what he has put on there today?
As I have contemplated this, another scripture passage keeps coming to my mind. In Matthew 26:36-46, we see Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, just before his death that he knew was coming. He has stopped to take time to pray. As I look over the words of his prayer, I see something with which I struggle: surrender and trust. Jesus said,
…My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.
“But as you will.”
Instead of worry-praying (and Jesus had plenty he could have worried about in that moment), Jesus’s prayer demonstrates his surrender to his father’s will. He was being still in that moment, knowing God’s will was best. And he fully proclaims his trust in God’s plan.
So much in that moment that I need to take to heart. How many times have I worry-prayed instead of following Jesus’ example of surrender and trust?
“Be still and know that I am God.”
This is what we are called to today. Be still and rest in God, trust in God. Our tomorrows belong to God. He has called us to today.
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
In the spirit of Thessalonians 5:11 “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up…”, let’s continue to conversation! Have you had a moment where you realized you needed to change your worry-praying to prayers of trust and surrender? Do you struggle with worry? Is there a Bible verse, song, or other truth has helped carry you through worry?
For my part, I’m going to leave you with a silly, but truth-filled song that has stayed with me since it came out two decades ago: Veggie Tales, “The Thankfulness Song” from Madame Blueberry. I can’t tell you how many times I have started to focus on my worry or on what I feel is wrong in my life and then my heart is called back by the truth in this song: “A thankful heart is a happy heart.” So often, simply taking time to be thankful turns my thinking around.