And the final aspect of my 2021 plan “Be Still” is be still and me. When I selected this phrase, I was sure it was an effort to slow down and reflect more on God’s guidance verses jumping to act, knee jerk reactions, or feeling that I need to have the answers. But as I have learned through my study of be still it is going to be so much more than that….it is complete surrender to God, training my brain to become weak so I can relinquish control to Him, giving EVERY decision, action, step to Him… and learning to not act until His will is clear. THAT is not only different than I thought, but also different from who I am .
Firstborn, a-type, scrappy and a little rough around the edges, hardworking, relentless, detail oriented, memory like an elephant: never forgets, perfection oriented, emotional, constantly pushing myself to be stronger, worrier, over analyzer and a whole host of other characteristics – but these are the ones that come to mind as challenges to or even complete opposites of be still. When God would prefer I trust more, stop jumping to conclusions or action, let go of worry, don’t rely on my own strength but be weak, stop worrying and live in faith….. means a move into a whole new approach to life.
The need for this challenge is also because those characteristics – even the not so favorable ones – have gotten me through this life. Sure jumping to action or over analyzing are not ideal ways to do life, but when you have to proceed with living on behalf of yourself and a spouse, making decisions, hearing tough news and constantly pivoting totally alone it required a strong personality and fortitude. Being weak would have let me crumble. But the reality is I can’t live strong all the time and this past year emptied the tank. You can’t be “on” forever and I am going to need a higher strength to guide my thought process, choices to act, and to know what actions to take.
In addition to this perspective being so different to me, it is also very different from our world. Pushing forward, remaining strong, working hard enough to beat it, busy busy busy – these are the ways of the world. These are the answers we find if we turn to humanity to help guide us. Quickly I realized in addition to how radical be still would be and that I would need God to actually achieve it, I would also need support to keep focused on following Him. There are a few staples in my world to help keep my focus:
1 – New Jesus Calling: I have LOVED this devotional for years. My family, Danny and I have found it to be so comforting and often the exact words you need to hear for wherever you find yourself. In fact my sister and I will text each other the day’s readings followed by “how did it know?!?!?!?”. So this year I choose to purchase a new one and this version has both a morning reading and an evening reading. Maybe the day will get crazy, but starting it and ending it refocused is so powerful.
2 – The Rosary: I have shared a lot about my experience with finding our Our Lady as a source of strength. And the has become a daily practice that I find useful for calming my heart, turning off my brain, and most beautiful is that I do my rosary while walking the dog. A task that in this cold weather is often non-desirable or it finds Danny and I shouting “not my turn”, I now look forward to the quiet time.
3 – Father Schmitz Bible in a Year: There is no doubt that having to attend St. You Tube has been a HUGE challenge in 2020 and now 2021. But being able to learn from Father Schmitz has been amazing. So when he released his plan to do the study of the bible in a year with a podcast, my parents, sisters and I were IN! Each day he releases a new podcast, about 20ish minutes or so, reading parts of the bible and then a little lesson. Ya’ll it is AMAZING!!!! And I encourage anyone looking for a little guidance or easy way to add some time focus on God each day, this is the way!
4 – Watch what I consume: I have taken special practice to take stock of those moments that I feel on edge. Wanting to pounce into action or put my guard up – so I can learn to be better aware of those moments BEFORE I am in them and maybe even to do my best to lessen them. It can be tough relationships, it can be social media, it can be lack of sleep or no schedule…. and this year I am doing my best to weed those out. Just the last couple of weeks I took a social media break and seeing how good it felt, I now plan to have a bit of “diet” with it – limit my consumption or be more intentional with it or even more breaks. Being intentional is hard and I often find myself justifying why something won’t work. “I have to deal with this person, or I am weak” or “I use social media for work so I have to stay on it” – when really I do have the power to limit my exposure. And not only is it limiting my exposure… but it really is quieting my world to leave space for Him.
5 – Ask for help: Part of “be still” is choosing to be fragile so God can work…. but maybe it is also choosing to be fragile to those in your world that can help you. So often with Danny I want to prove I am totally fine and can do it on my own…. but then how can he support me? My family I feel like has been on this roller coaster with me so long I often fear if I have to ask them for more help what that looks like or if they will get annoyed…. but they are my family so maybe I need to spend that energy being sure to thank them and express how much they help instead of the lie that I can finally prove to them I can do it on my own. Over the years since transplant 1 I have had an AWESOME Catholic based therapist who I can see as often or as little as necessary and it always is such a God send. And maybe if I learn to accept love and support and help in all these scenarios with a grateful heart and trusting spirit…. that muscle memory will translate to accepting it from God.
Be still is a powerful goal for 2021 and although 26 days in and I am already having really good and really off days….. I can see the influence it can have and the room I have to grow with it. And as you know… I will be sure to be back here and share how it is going.
Thank you so much for reading and remember to make it a great day!