Make a Choice to Be Still

Busy, busy, busy. That seems to be the hallmark of our American culture. We rush and rush but never feel satisfied.

When I saw the title of the book where I gleaned the insights I’m sharing today, it felt like it was written precisely for me.

God was saying, “You spend too much time thinking, daughter. The mind can be a scary place, but this book will help you get out of your negative mindset.”

No, it wasn’t an audible voice. But it’s how I translated the impression his Spirit made on my heart the day my sister suggested we have a book club to read and discuss this book.

Thoughts Matter

As he thinketh in his heart, so is he

Proverbs 23:7a KJV

I wish it was easy for me not to rehash everything that happens in my life.

Over the next several weeks, I’ll be sharing what I learned as I went through Jennie Allen’s book GET OUT OF YOUR HEAD during summer 2021. I also did her Bible study with the same title, and I highly recommend both of them.

Today, we’re going to talk about the emotion of discontent and how it leads us into a downward spiral that ends in insecurity.

The Source of Discontentment

I have to admit, I was a bit surprised as I read chapter eight of GET OUT OF YOUR HEAD. I always considered discontentment to be about comparison and accumulation and ingratitude.

But that’s not the way Allen sees it. And there’s tons of wisdom and research on her side of the equation.

There are so many distractions in our modern world. The smartphone might be a handy device that does so many things, but it’s also a huge distraction. It’s difficult for me to recall the last time I had a conversation with my kids where they didn’t check their phone at least once during our conversation.

Is this because they have short attention spans? I’m boring? They’re expecting an important call?

It’s because we are built for silence, and our world is filled with noise.

And noise has an allure. It keeps us from focusing inwardly and thinking more deeply.

But the noise also gives false illusions. Does it seem like everyone in the world is happier? If their smiling Facebook photos are what we judge by then yes.

I don’t have to look very far to see how I escaped into streaming television programs over the past year. In fact, my husband and I have watched three complete series. One had thirteen season with twenty episodes each. How many hours did we spend distracting ourselves?

So if I wonder why we haven’t had a date night or a deep conversation lately, maybe I don’t have to look any further than that singular choice. It’s easier to zone out and fall into the lives of fictional characters than be still and wonder why I’m choosing distraction over relationship.

Choosing to Be Still

One of my favorite things in Allen’s books are the infographics she provides of the emotional spirals.

Copyright Jennie Allen 2020

These are copyrighted images, so if you choose to share them, make sure you include that information.

How often are we in a downward spiral emotionally? Something happens and we feel a negative emotion and let it pull our thoughts in a downward direction.

For example, I might say, “I’m anxious because I’m running behind and my project is due tomorrow.”

And then I think of all the things I need to do. Of all the people I’m letting down. As my stress rises, I begin to feel overwhelmed.

As the graphic shows, I have power to stop that spiral. And it all starts with a simple choice.

Choose to be still. Choose to remember God’s truth. Choose to stop thinking about all the whys and what ifs that lead to worry, and instead turn my thoughts to God.

I can reframe my thoughts like this:

“I’m stressed and running behind, so I will choose to pause and center my thoughts on the goodness of God. I choose to focus on the next step I can take to finish this project.”

Sharon Hughson

I love how the choice turns the spiral on an upward pathway. Rather than feeling insecure about finishing, I’m secure in the truth that God loves me no matter what. That it’s not as big as I’m making it. That if I focus on one thing at a time, the anxious feelings ebb and I progress toward my goal.

But it requires making space to be still and focus on God.

I’ve never been into meditation before, but I’ve discovered that practicing short bouts of meditation every morning (ten minutes maximum) helps me center myself in a state of mind that’s ready to get to work. Meditating on God’s Word is mentioned quite often, so I’m trying to include it during these daily focus sessions.

I believe quiet time with the Lord should include stillness. In the stillness of your mind, ask God to show up and speak to you.

It shouldn’t surprise us that having this quiet connection with God gives us a sense of security. He made us for exactly such a relationship with himself.

How do you “get still” and make space for silence in your life?

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