Be Still, and Notice

By Katie Helmreich

I slept through my alarm this morning. Luckily, my early bird son woke up and noticed we were running late. Two out of three kids got dressed, reviewed memory work, brushed hair, ate breakfast, and walked into their classrooms with seconds to spare. The third? Well… I got her to school eventually…

I sat in the car after I dropped her off letting the blissful silence wash over my battered ear drums. 

I’m not sure how long I would have sat there if given the chance, but soon Ben came rushing out the backdoor ready to leave for work. He seemed surprised to find a crazy lady just sitting there in his car, but he’s learned when to just roll with it. After a rushed update on the puppy’s pee status and a quick goodbye, he was off and I reentered Tuesday.

Life can be so chaotic. Emotions swing to extremes. Our attitudes so often get swept up in the momentum of the attitudes around us. A change in routine, a looming deadline, illness, heightened expectations, or unexpected circumstances soon have us spinning faster and faster. Before we know it we’ve been swept up off our feet like a swing carousel! Often, I feel like I’m trying to hold the ropes as my family swings up into orbit on this carousel. I get caught up in my role as “home base” parent, trying to help everyone keep it together, scrabbling to get a better grip on the ropes while fumbling with my foot to find the button to slow down the ride.  

How do we break free of the overpowering centrifugal force? 

In the past, I always assumed that the increasing G-force was due to being over-scheduled. It used to be easier to identify things to cut (or at least blame). But at this point, the calendar is almost decorative. Aside from a few meetings, the occasional appointment, and notes about dress-up days and show-and-tell, there’s really nothing much going on. Why does it still feel like we’re spinning out of control? 

The chaos isn’t external. It’s internal.

“Be still…” But… how?!? 

The truth is, I’m not holding my family together. God is.

There is no circumstance, foreseen or unforeseen, that will tear us out of Jesus’ capable hand. Big emotions may set us spinning, and it may feel like we’ll shoot off into space like a rock from a slingshot, but nothing can separate us from the love of God.

They cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed.

(Psalm 107:28-29)

Sometimes our internal momentum increases exponentially to a pace we can’t control. The turbulent emotions in our family spin, whipping around and around faster, faster, and faster… 

But at the sound of His voice? We are still.

The swing slows. Each revolution brings us lower and lower until we find ourselves set gently back on our feet.

Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired safe haven. 

(Psalm 107:30)

We can “Be still, and know that” He is God (Psalm 46:10) because Jesus stills us as He stills the sea and storms. Jesus is our safe haven. Handling the external things that fill our lives become so much more manageable when our internal chaos is hushed.

Of course, God brings us external safe havens, too (like my car this morning), but it’s the internal stillness God grants us that makes those moments of peace fulfilling. 

As Jesus stills the frantic spinning within my heart I notice the ways He has been blessing the morning all along. I notice the small successes that reveal growth, independence, and budding maturity in my kids. I notice the value of the gift of in-person learning. I notice I’m making real progress on my to-do list. I notice God’s grace as the Spirit washes away my short temper and cheers my preschooler. I notice the fact that grocery shopping today will not be nearly as big a deal as it became a year ago. I notice the confidence I feel in being able to handle things today that were totally foreign to me only weeks ago. 

Noticing helps us to slow down inside. We become still as Jesus helps us notice the ways His Spirit is working in and around us. Be still, and notice God’s presence. Observe God’s steadfast love and note the way God’s glory is being revealed!

Sharing the blessings you notice helps others slow the frantic spinning in their hearts, as well. When you see God glorified in someone near you, tell them. When you see strength of character, kindness, thoughtfulness, gentleness, patience, self-control, speak up or write them a post-it note.

When I trust God to hold those ropes I’ve been scrabbling for, my hands are free for other things like hugs and high fives.

I read somewhere that there are very real benefits in a 20 second hug. Look it up! We’ve certainly found it to be true. (I can always tell if the kids are counting to 20 when I hug them!) A good hug is like slowing the merry-go-round for a terrified kid! Like a manual override button. I know it doesn’t say, “Be still and hug someone for 20 seconds,” but I definitely notice that God is with us in those moments! 

Do you feel stress and chaos mounting? Is your mind starting to race? Are the actions and reactions in your family swinging to more and more extremes? Be still.

Be still, and notice how much Jesus loves you and how faithfully He is caring for you. Whether you’re dealing with big problems or small, notice the ways Jesus is blessing you and your family with growth. May the sound of His voice still the storms and hush the waves in your heart and mind.

(And if you can, give someone a nice long hug.)

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