I am exalted among the nations,
I am exalted in the earth.” - Psalm 46:10
In discussing this verse with a friend today, it occurs to me how undervalued stillness is in many Christian traditions. In my experience, stillness can be a struggle because people find it difficult to quiet their minds from racing thoughts, pressing needs, and clamoring desires. The inability to be still or have a quiet mind then becomes a source of shame or guilt, instead of its own reflection point.
In the Lutheran tradition, we value the tension that plays between positive and negative construction. This is most clearly evident in our interpretation of the 10 Commandments. While the written word is in the negative construction, "do not do this", the interpretation includes a positive construction, "Instead, do this".
Is there a way to put both positive and negative construction on stillness?
Positive: Being still will help me draw closer to God.
Negative: Being still will help me recognize the things that are not God.
In that second construction, it is easier to realize stillness will help us reject the things that are not God.
My to-do list- not God.
My negative self-talk- not God
My stresses about things I cannot control- not God
My guilt over things done and left undone- not God
My frustrations with others- not God
As each of these things appears in my mind, I have the chance to acknowledge them and to note that they are not God. They do not get the space or the honor that I have chosen to give to my Creator. If they want time, they have to wait. They are not God.
In acknowledging what is not God, we have the opportunity to sink into stillness and be present to God's presence in and around us. If God is neither all those things, nor in them, where is God? How is God speaking to us? How does stillness lead us more deeply into God's truth?
In the days ahead, there are likely to be many things that wish to assert their dominance in our minds and lives. Be still for a moment. Do they bring life? Do they offer wholeness? Do they contain hope and true justice? If not, they are not God. Let them go.
Continue in stillness that you may better recognize what is not God and embrace the One who is.