Making Stillness Sacred

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My house is never more still and quiet than when we play hide-and-seek. The person who hides isn’t obvious (toddlers excepted). As the seeker, I must use all of my senses and deductive reasoning to find the hider. I pay attention to even the most mundane things, like curtains or bathtubs. The same is true for our days right now. As non-essential parts of our lives fall away, we face the ordinary parts of life that are easy to overlook or take for granted. We have time and space to learn a new way of seeing. Here’s what I’m finding. 

  1. Grieve your losses. Grieve what is yours to grieve. Remember that each person’s losses are unique to him or her. Comparing my loss to yours isn’t helpful. A parent who loses a job may feel that loss as painfully as a ten-year-old who’s lost his baseball season. Grief helps us process our loss, or as Dr. Henry Cloud says, grief is how we “metabolize loss.” So I’ve been trying to name my personal losses, and grieve them, while holding space for others to grieve losses of their own. May our grief grow our capacity for compassion. I call upon Isaiah 53 which assures me that my Savior is a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief, who came to bear my grief and carry my sorrows. Jesus is a good Savior. He loves. He understands. You are not alone. You can weep. Jesus will weep with you and help you heal.
  2. Give thanks. I don’t believe thankfulness takes away suffering, but it does affect my focus and my attitude. Focusing on what irritates me nourishes selfishness and discontentment. Focusing on God’s good and undeserved gifts trains my eyes upward and leads my heart to humility and praise. There are gifts in these strange days that we may never experience again. I’m asking God to help me notice them and give thanks for them. After breaking the news to my children about extended “distance learning,” I asked them to state what they were thankful for in it. Our spirits lifted as we gave thanks that they can have a longer recess, go at their own pace, and eat lunch with Daddy. Thankfulness is the breeding ground of contentment. 
  3. Live in the present. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us not to worry about tomorrow because every day has enough trouble of its own. I can’t control tomorrow. I can’t change yesterday. But right now I can attend to the work God gives me in my little corner of the world. Who has God asked me to serve and love in this moment? In the stillness, I can surrender my guilt and my agenda and simply obey one instruction at a time. As He distills my life to the core of what is most valuable in it, it is easier to discern what He wants me to do daily, even if those days run together and tasks are less than glamorous. God whittles at my pride each time I choose to obey rather than rebel. He whittles at my anxiety each time I redirect my gaze from future fears to His present provision. God isn’t asking us to live perfectly; He’s asking for our attention. Walking with my heavenly Father makes every moment holy.
  4. Embrace stillness. Our flesh doesn’t like to surrender or to stop, but we were created for rest as well as work. Maybe this is why Psalm 23 says that the Shepherd “makes” us lie down beside still waters. And right now, God AND the world agree we should be still. So much has simply stopped. We don’t have to stay busy to earn a good grade on our pandemic performance. God isn’t giving us a grade; He’s giving us grace. I don’t have to feel guilty for taking a nap. In this season of stillness, let the Lord restore your soul. Rest. Pray. Praise. Read His Word. Start with Psalm 23, 91, or 116. Psalm 46:10 tells us, “Be still, and know that I am God.” It’s difficult to get to know God without slowing down and paying attention to Him. Knowing Him impacts our faith, hope, peace, and joy. So as events and commutes fall away, take advantage of still moments to find refuge in a solid, stable God who does not change like shifting shadows or daily news reports. Let Him be your constant. He is our hope. And as the world begins to open back up over the next few weeks and months, don’t forget this lesson.

So what am I finding as I sit in my ordinary house and live out ordinary days? By God’s grace, I am finding comfort in loss. Contentment in thanksgiving. Joy in obedience. Provision in each moment. Peace in surrender. And in the stillness, I am getting to know God. 

By Monica Odle. Monica loves lazy mornings with tea and her Bible, cheering on her people, and also cake. She is wife to Curtis (20 years this December!) and the proud mom of two daughters and two sons.

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