“Be still.” I love those words. Yet, is it really possible to “be still” on the inside – in our hearts? I mean, life gets really crazy sometimes. Our responsibilities can seem so overwhelming, and then out of nowhere come three more things that demand being done! We can feel like we’re drowning. By nature I do the exact opposite of “be still” most of the time in life (unless a medical condition stops me in my tracks). I pour myself wholeheartedly into my days because, well… Wait a minute, why is it that I do that? Why do we try so hard at everything and let ourselves become so harried by life? What are we afraid of?
Well, I think we are really afraid of not managing to get “life” done. This is essentially the same as saying that we are afraid of failing. What would “failure” mean for you? What type of failure are you most afraid of?
When I look inside my own heart, I see a few definite failure-related fears. I am afraid that if I fail, people will stop caring about me. I’m afraid that failure will affect how other people see me. As to my second fear, I’m afraid that if I fail, that makes me a failure. I really don’t want to be a failure. And then, of course, there’s always the fear that failure could impact my ability to have all that good “stuff” that we all need (or just want) to maintain our standard of living. Can you empathize with those fears?
These fears have such loud voices. They seem so cut and dry, so obvious. They can easily tie me up in knots so that “be still” sounds like a fairytale, or a joke. Yet, sometimes the loudest voice (in this case, the voice of my fears) is dead wrong, in spite of all of its strength.
Over the years, my fears have had to have some sense talked into them. After all, I don’t really need all the stuff I have, and my failure is far from the only thing that could jeopardize my possessions. Of especial comfort is knowing that at the end of the day I’ll never starve, because some friend or relative will always be there to take me in. Really, when you think about it, that’s all of the physical provision we actually need.
As to the opinions of other people, well, people who really care about me should still care about me even if I stumble, fall and fail to juggle all of the things that are supposedly going on in my life. This isn’t an excuse to be lazy. Rather, it means that I will make mistakes sometimes, and that if some people reject me for doing my best and still failing, then those people probably weren’t great friends to begin with.
Does failing make us failures? Even from a purely logical standpoint, the answer is no. Just because you do something that is a failure does not mean that the identity of you, yourself, a human being, is “failure”. There is only one thing that can make someone a failure, and that is being rotten on the inside.
So what about being still? Well, sadly it doesn’t mean that we can always walk in the park for two hours every day or work with cheery people and have the bonus of puppies loaned to us for our hourly fifteen minute breaks. What it does mean is finding the ability to have peace knowing how the world works.
If you go out and live today and don’t finish or succeed in everything that you have planned, the world will not end. Just take that in for a moment.
The ultimate reason why these things about how the world (and failure) works are true is because the one who said the words “be still” also planned how the world would work. Those two precious words (“be still”) come from a poem in the Bible. They were given to us by my God and kind Father in heaven. He is the one who has shown me all of the truths I now better understand about failure and why I don’t have to be ruled by the lies it whispers. He is kind and offers peace to our hearts, if we will listen to him. (See more in the about section.)