It’s okay to be a human being.
Recently on social media there is an inspirational saying that is being shared and is constantly popping up on my news feeds.
Ironically instead of being inspired by this truth, I find myself flinching away from it. The reason behind this guilty and pain filled reaction is because this saying highlights the mentality I am currently struggling with. That I am meant to be.
I grew up, and I feel society trained me, with a “doing” mentality. That I was composed of my actions and people’s perception of them. If I got high grades, was nice and agreeable I could earn people’s respect and love. On the other hand, if I was deceitful or overly moody I would earn their scorn. A seemingly simple two-pronged problem: 1) actions make me. 2) people’s perception of my actions determine whether I’m good or bad. Yet somehow for such a “simple” problem it is incredibly hard to break.
I’ve spent my life in a series of actions, constantly going and doing something. Anything. If there was a brief pause or a lull in the present action I would look to the future. Either with school, my weekly plans, or my life’s direction and plan. I’ve just been constantly going these past 10 years and I honestly didn’t know if I could stop. That is until this school year.
Last summer I had served as a missionary (so much beauty and grace flowed from that time) and at the start of the school year I was excited, high on Christ, and ready to tackle anything! I was ready for a season of doing. Coming out of an eventful summer I was sure God was gonna keep it going. While you might say that I was busy academically with course loads of 19 and 18 hours which “gifted” me with weeks where I could have 6 tests, 3 papers, and a group project due. However, in between those stressful weeks there was a stillness, stagnant quietness in my life. When people would ask me how I was doing my response tended to be “Good, I guess.” Nothing bad was going on in my life (praise be) but nothing new or exciting was happening either. It just was.
At first I fought against this nothingness, this stillness trying to find anything to fill my time and thoughts. I fell into a small depression about what I perceived as a stagnate life. Eventually I gave up my struggle, threw myself into my academic tasks, and attempted to ignore the quietness. It wasn’t until earlier this week while I was in adoration with the Lord that I realized what this quietness in my life was.
Before adoration I had given myself the challenge to just be with the Lord. Not to spend my adoration in journaling and spiritual reading which was my usual routine, but by just being. It was hard, really hard, but I managed to do it. After I was able to achieve “being” and I spent time just resting in His presence for a while, letting my mind empty of any thoughts, this one thought zipped through my mind with lightning speed. It hit me with the same effect as lightning too. He revealed something that had me sitting up bolt straight in the pew, eyes wide, nerves buzzing as if I had received an electric shock. That learning to be was, in a way, the whole point of my “stagnate” year.
I was so used to going from one thing to the next in rapid succession, like the Energizer Bunny, and I had forgotten how to stop or why I needed to. Jesus gently took me into his hands and held me. Stilling my life and myself from a rush both socially and self-induced. I reacted like any child whose arm is gripped by a parent, restraining them from running around. I resisted and struggled and eventually pouted about this perceived confinement. However, the struggle wasn’t a waste because it awakened a thirst for being within me. It opened my eyes to just how action and “doing” focused my life was. It gave me the longing to make use of this stillness by embracing it instead of fleeing from it.
Brothers and Sisters, we are meant to be.
I had to realize that my actions did not give sole propose to my life. That it was okay to indulge in quiet times and activities that had no useful meanings in the long run. I could be the smartest, most successful person in the world, but if I kept running from the slow and silent times I would be unable to enjoy anything.
To be is to exist in the here and now, not in past actions or in future what-ifs. Yes God exists in every point of time past, present, and future, yet it is in the present moment that He reaches out to you. What is history made up of but present moments that have passed and the future is all the possibilities of a moment. It is this day, this hour, this second that the Lord waits for you and how you react determines how the moment passes and what follows. We only have to be still enough to recognize just how precious a gift God gives us in every moment.
The gift of His presence. His presence that is beside us in the rush and in the calm. That surrounds us whatever action we take, whether useful or useless. Evan Koons made the video below which expands on the idea of being in the terms of our innate uselessness because we were never created for use. I invite you to watch his video, even if you have already seen it, and remember the words the Lord whispers to our hearts.
“Be Still and Know that I Am”