It is so hard to be still in the midst of stress, jumbled thoughts, and overwhelming emotions. This is how I find calm in the middle of the storm.
I am a chronic overthinker. Peace and stillness do not come naturally to me. Outwardly, I am a very laid back person. Inside my brain, it’s a different story.
I analyze (and overanalyze) everything, looking for subtle implications in tones of voice, patterns in behavior, and mannerisms. I don’t like being caught off guard, so I try to stay one step ahead.
Recently, I’ve been helping a friend in a counseling Ph.D. program by volunteering to do some cognitive tests. She found that my verbal skills were higher than normal, but my overall processing speed was through the roof which seemed to fit well with the label “verbal ninja” I’d been given by a counselor a few years ago.
And, let me just tell you, it’s an exhausting way to live. My mind can be running itself ragged, whether my body is moving or not.
In my effort to maintain control of life, my loud, frantic, frenzied, anxious thoughts have a tendency to drown out God’s still, small voice.
And I crave stillness. Peace. Calm. Silence. Rest. The good news is that the Lord freely offers us those gifts! Learning to accept them is the hard part.
Worry comes easily, but being still is not natural. It’s a discipline that requires focus, time, and practice.
#1 – Stop
Before you can even start to work on actually being still, you have to be able to recognize when your mind is spinning out of control.
The sooner you can recognize it, the easier it will be to stop it in its tracks.
Keep your eyes and ears open for signs of stress, worry, and anxiousness. I’m a fidgeter and a lip biter – both outward signs of inner stress.
I don’t know about you, but I’m a lot better at doing than being. Just being doesn’t feel productive. Seeing the value in slowing down and resting in His presence helps to be able to step out of the crazy cycle and into His peace.
Take a deep breath. Recognize where doubt and worry started taking over.
#2 – Replace
Those racing thoughts that are beckoning fear and doubt into your life are not usually speaking truth, even though they can be very convincing at times.
Take those thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5) by identifying the lies and replacing them with Truth. Open your Bible, read back over verses that have grounded you in the past, do a Google search for Bible verses related to whatever you are going through – stress, fear, worry, doubt, just start getting rid of those anxious thoughts by replacing them with Truth.
Instead of getting carried away by fear, ground yourself by leaning into God’s promises.
He has a plan, He will bring comfort in our trials, He is bigger than anything we could possibly face, His peace will guard our hearts and minds, He will carry our burdens, and He will bring strength out of our weakness…and that’s just to name a few!
God’s Word is such a soothing balm for the aches and pains of life when you actually believe it to be true in the very core of your heart.
#3 – Be Still
This is sometimes the most difficult step of all because even though “just” being seems to be an inactive thing, it is something that takes a lot of focus and intentionality.
Have you ever noticed how difficult it is to keep your thoughts from wandering and jumping all over the place? Practice redirecting them back to stillness every time they wander, not with frustration but with grace.
It’s not about doing, seeking, or striving. That time is not about your performance, your insecurities, or your regrets.
Stillness has nothing to do with what you bring to the table. It’s about what He has already brought.
Being still is not even necessarily about praying. It’s all about resting in the truth that God is who He says He is. Knowing that He is in control and recognizing that spending time with Him is one of the most beneficial things you can do with your time.
That stillness with Him, solidifying your beliefs and values, erases doubt and worry and gives you a stronger foundation to stand on to be able to face all of life’s difficulties.
I have not mastered stillness. It is still a skill I need a lot of practice in, but it is also something that has been so worthwhile in my life and my relationship with God. The peace and calm it can bring into even the most stressful situations is something I need so desperately to keep me, my thoughts, my emotions, and my identity rooted in Christ.
Don’t give up when it doesn’t come easily. The more you make it a part of your daily routine, the more impact you will see on your life. I once had a pastor challenge us to take just 5 minutes a day to practice stillness and work mostly on not letting our thoughts wander. That 5 minutes felt like such an incredibly long time to keep my thoughts in check!
But the more you practice, the better you get. And in the process, you are not only drawing nearer to God, but you are also retraining yourself on how to deal with stress, insecurity, and anxiousness. And that is absolutely life changing.