Our family started a new chapter this week.
After 16 years of being a mostly stay-at-home mom, I’m back in the classroom full time. My kids have never had a full-time working mom–until now. While I kept a busy part-time schedule as an accompanist and Kindermusik teacher, I was still able to set my own hours and be available to the kids during the day.
Things are different now.
It’s all good. I’m super excited to be able to use my professional skills, especially now that my kids are older and in school all day. I like the accountability, the set schedule, and having colleagues.
But let me tell you something.
I am tired. Bone tired.
Transitioning from a lazy summer straight back into teaching after 16 years of flexibility. . . well, it’s left this momma wanting to go to bed right now and sleep straight through the weekend.
I came home after the first day of school and sank down deep on top of my bed with the distinct feeling that I might not ever move again.
There was this incredible release after being “on” all day, to just fall back onto the mattress, to not think, and to simply be.
What It Means to Be Still and Know
The whole idea of sinking — weary and low — was on my mind when I read Psalm 46 the next morning.
Psalm 46:10 is the oft-quoted verse, “Be still and know that I am God.” Or in the NASB, “Cease striving and know that I am God.”
Being the word geek I am, I looked up the original Hebrew on Blue Letter Bible yesterday, just to gain a little more insight into the true meaning of the word.
The word used is “raphah” which means “to sink down, to relax, to let drop or let go.”
You know, I spent many years trying to hold my life in place. Convincing myself that if I didn’t get my act together and keep it that way, then somehow the whole world as I knew it would crumble to the ground. If you had opened the dictionary to the entry for “striving,” you would’ve seen my picture there. I was pushing as hard as I possibly could toward perfection, and I was slowly losing ground.
And then one day I stopped. Not because I wanted to, but because I had to. I had reached my limit.
From that point on, I had to learn to let go. To let it drop. To sink down. To relax. To “be still and know that He is God.”
You’re Being Held
Can I tell you how freeing it is to sink down? To admit to God and yourself that holding yourself together isn’t possible? And that you’re so weary of trying?
Richard Rohr writes,
You’re being held and so you do not need to try to ‘hold’ yourself together.”
- We wind ourselves so tight trying to keep it all contained and perfect.
- We’re terrified that the people and the world around us might see us shatter so we stiffen our upper lip and suck it up, buttercup.
- We put on a harsh face so we don’t have to soften to the heartache inside. We don’t want anyone to know. We don’t want them to see our weaknesses, our vulnerabilities, our pain.
So we hide beneath a crusty exterior of “holding it together.”
But holding ourselves together means holding ourselves apart. Apart from God, apart from others. We can’t connect relationally when our entire existence is wrapped up in holding our own little world together.
And so this is what I’ve learned: to “be still” means to let go. To let it drop — this whole ridiculous facade of having it all together and having life all figured out. To “be still” means to sink down, to rest in the knowledge and the faith that the world is indeed held together after all. . . but not by you.
All you need to do is be who you were created to be. And trust the one who holds all things together to do His job and hold you together, too.
He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:17
Won’t you be still? It’s time to sink down.