Sunday, June 5, 2016

Can You Hear Him Now?


Somebody once asked me if I was stranger as a child. Ignoring the subliminal insult, I responded with "I wasn't stranger; I was just louder" to which she yelled "WHOA". This conversation was held at 1 o'clock in the morning and we were both dredging through espresso crashes. I just wanted to clarify that in case you thought my friends and I discussed this regularly.

 Anyways, my point is that, even now, after 23 and a half years, I'm not the quietest person. Naturally speaking. My mom's favorite way to describe me is "the bull in the china shop". Pick any moment of the day (or probably night) and I'll be found either talking or singing. Calm just doesn't come easily for me. My brain is always going 90 miles an hour. Give me a double shot of espresso, and it'll go 171 miles an hour.

So if you ask me to quote my favorite Bible verse, I will start snickering, because it's a tad ironic.

"Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God."

Or, to put it in simpler terms (aka The Message), "Brain. Chill. God's got this."

Now you're probably thinking, "yeah, Joanna, you should definitely read that verse a few more times and really take it to heart because you NEED it", to which I'll respond "DUH".

See, my coping mechanism is to talk things out with whomever is available at the moment. Myself, a dog, my mom, my brother, my best friend, God: if it seems animate, it has to endure a 10 minute soliloquy on "why can't my family just be boring" or "why can I literally do nothing right".

Now, honestly, talking things out is not a bad thing. The bad thing is how I've started freaking out over things that I can't control. I'm locally famous for overthinking things. (I worry about how I will teach my kids spelling. I don't even have a boyfriend.) I obsess for days. I let things stress me out to the point where I can't eat certain things because my ulcers have parties. I spend a lot of time worrying over things that I literally cannot change.

But I know I'm not the only person alive who does this. Take a look.

The verse above comes from Psalm 43:5. But you can also find it under Psalm 42:5, and 42:11. David says the same thing, almost word for word, three times in the space of two psalms. Why? Why in the world would a skilled poet repeat himself like that?

Well, the only way to be 100% sure is to ask David, but my chances of that happening are pretty slim, since the DeLorean crashed. But I think I still have a pretty good idea.

Did you know that David was human? He was. And any of you who are also human might understand that sometimes you worry and freak and stress about stuff that's out of your control. I'm sure David did this, too, and I think that's why he repeated himself. He needed to be reminded more than once that 1) God is God, 2) God has all power, and 3) God is watching over everything.

And, most of the time, the best way to remember this is to be quiet. I don't like quiet. I've known God for the better part of 23 years, but, sadly, only in the last 2 years have I established a daily "quiet time" with God. You know why it took me so long?

Because if I'm quiet, God might say something. To quote one of my favorite songs, "I'm so afraid of what You have to say; 'Cause I am quiet now, and silence gives You space."

Maybe, if I stop talking, I might finally hear Him saying "Hello, would you just listen to Me? I've got it all under control."

Maybe, if I stop flailing, I'll see Him gently, quietly working things out, one step at a time.

But as exhausting as it is to stress over things we can't control, often times, it's even harder to be still. It takes an intentional effort to stop what I affectionately call the "brain crazy".

Quiet doesn't just magically happen. It's a choice we have to make. Oh, we can't choose whether or not our family makes unhealthy decisions, and most of the time we can't fix the daily pet peeves we run into at work, but we can choose how we react to the drama. We can choose to let God handle the situations, and we can choose to be still and wait patiently for God's answers. Does that mean God will automatically remove all the problems from your life? Nope, usually most of the problems stick around, because, hey, we live in a sin-sick world! But  it does mean He will give you an indescribable peace of mind, and, if you accept, He will give you the strength and the grace to endure the troubles, no matter how long they last.

Have I mastered everything I'm saying?



But I'm learning. I'm naturally noisy, but I'm making an effort to cultivate a quiet mind. And more often these days, instead of finding me complaining about life for 30 minutes, you'll find me having a cup of tea and reading some Psalms.

1 comment:

  1. Your exchange with your friend reminds me of the '90s version of Sabrina. "What was he like as a child?" "Shorter."

    "Quiet" is something I don't struggle with much, but peace is. One of my go-to verses is, "My peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you." I need to be reminded of that one a lot.