Implementing Stillness Amidst a Busy Schedule: beholding God in the chaos of everyday life
“The stillness part is probably my hardest obstacle! Life is really fast & busy at the moment!”
A very good friend of mine left this comment on my last blog post, How to Search for Thin Places.
In that post, I shared with you 6 tidbits of wisdom to help you search for thin places in your life as you begin your beholding journey. One of the 6, and one that I got the most feedback on, was this idea of implementing stillness.
I explained in last week’s post that implementing stillness is when you set intentional alone time where you quiet yourself in the presence of God, allowing Him to minister and speak to you as you posture your heart towards surrender and rest.
And while I stand by this explanation, and believe that quiet time alone in the presence of God – creating margin for silence – is very good for the soul and your relationship with God, I think there’s a little more to unpack on this topic.
Stillness Amidst Busyness
Depending on your life stage, seeking uninterrupted moments of quiet and silence might be really difficult.
Implementing stillness may just seem… impossible.
You may be like my friend, who is in the middle of clinicals right now as she studies to become a Chiropractor, and barely has time to make coffee in the morning let alone implement stillness.
Or maybe you’re a new mom, and the newborn stage is kicking your butt with late-night feedings as you tiredly wipe sleep from your eyes every couple of hours.
Perhaps your job is extremely demanding right now, or family life is a little stressful, or your schedule is just so packed full that you take one look at the word ‘stillness’ and automatically shut down.
We all have something we are facing, something that constantly distracts and pulls us in different directions.
But what if I told you that you don’t have to choose between stillness and your busy season of life?
What if I told you that stillness can be implemented anywhere, at any time, no matter what life stage you find yourself in?
Do I think that sometimes the Lord causes us to make changes to our schedules in order to prioritize rest and a slower way of living?
But sometimes, certain seasons of our lives just can’t slow down, and that’s what I want to speak into today. I want to unpack what it practically looks like to implement stillness in the midst of chaotic seasons of life.
Seeking Stillness in Each Season
I think it’s normal for stillness to look a little different in each season. As I stated earlier, part of implementing stillness may look like seeking moments of silence and uninterrupted alone time with the Lord.
But for those who have a packed and crazy schedule and implementing that kind of stillness is just impossible at the moment, that definition of stillness can lead to guilt and shame.
Romans 8:1 reassures us that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ. So, friend, if you are in a season of life right now where implementing that kind of stillness isn’t possible, don’t let that discourage you or make you feel less than.
The point of stillness is not to follow a certain routine so that you ‘get it right’. The point of stillness is to draw you closer into Jesus so that you are able to recognize and behold His presence with you in the everyday.
The more I chew on this idea of stillness, the more I’m realizing that stillness doesn’t just entail silence or quiet moments. I’m learning that stillness is a heart posture of surrender and rest despite life’s ever-changing, and sometimes crazy, circumstances.
Most are familiar with the well-known words of Jesus from Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG),
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
What Jesus is doing in this passage is extending an invitation to a slower way of living.
He’s teaching us that there is much to uncover in the hushed, quiet moments of life. But in order to uncover those moments and reap the fruit of their blessings in full, we must respond to His invitation with a heart willing to say yes and a soul willing to slow down.
So, even if our schedules and minds are a mess, Jesus still gives us the promise of slow, still, and quiet.
My Pastor’s definition of a soul at rest always haunts me in times of chaos, “Peace is rest of soul rooted in the sovereignty of God.”
Stillness as a Heart Posture
Trusting the Lord and walking relationally with Him day by day, is the foundation of implementing stillness.
It looks like saying yes to His invitation to walk with Him no matter what you’re facing or how busy and stressful your schedule may be. It’s learning to pause throughout each moment of the day and remembering that God is with you.
Psalm 139:7-10 says,
“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” (NIV)
This is, after all, the basis of beholding; understanding the truth that no matter where you are or what you’re doing, God’s presence is ever-present, and then creating space in your life to notice Him there.
Stillness is a heart posture of surrender and trust, one avenue in which you can choose to behold more of God with you in the everyday. It’s putting your soul at ease in the hands of your Heavenly Father as you rest in His sovereignty and choose to remain unhurried in the face of distraction.
Stillness is a way of life and a slow, restful, unrushed way of relating to and communing with God.
It’s tailoring our reactions from distraught and frenzied to He is faithful.
It’s replacing the doubt with the Divine.
It’s choosing God’s peace over panic.
This is the slow way of living that God invites us into. This is how we implement stillness in our everyday, right-now, crazy kind of lives.
Now, you may be wondering how to say yes to this invitation, what it looks like to live this way practically in the mundane of each day.
And that’s why I want to leave you today with two simple, practical ways in which you can posture your heart towards stillness as you learn to behold Christ with you.
Because I know from personal experience, those who are battling the weight of a busy, crazy season of life, the last thing you need is a million different ways to do something new.
So, let’s simplify stillness together, friend, so that you can continually experience and encounter God’s presence with you in the everyday – no matter how your day unfolds.
Implementing stillness in your current season of life may look like seeking one single still moment; a half-second where you stop and pause and breathe in God’s grace as you transition from one task to the next.
Lynn Cowell writes,
“Sometimes God brings times of transition to create transformation.“
She may be referring to major life changes, but what if we chose to view each mundane moment of transition as an opportunity for transformation? What if instead of jumping from one thing to the next, we paused and took a breath in God’s presence instead?
As you get in your car to drive home from work, before you move from studying to cooking dinner, or as you go from brushing your teeth to getting into bed at night, pause.
Take one single moment and use it to praise God, to utter a single word of prayer, or to simply just be in His presence.
The truth is, God is not a God of chaos, but a God of order and peace (1 Corinthians 14:33).
Pausing makes room for the peace of God to permeate and transcend whatever moment you find yourself in, ushering you into surrendered stillness.
If you’ve hung with me for a while now, you already know that breath prayer is one of my favorite Christian spiritual practices, and here’s why: it’s simple!
And not only is it simple, but it’s also an extremely powerful way to connect with God in single moments throughout each day. It’s kind of like taking a pause with an extra added intention.
Breath prayer, at its core, is about naming your desire in the presence of God while connecting intimately with Him. Breath prayers are typically short verses or phrases, sometimes even one single word, that sync up to the natural rhythm of your breathing.
As you breathe in, you pray the first half of the word or phrase, and then as you exhale, you pray the second half of the verse or phrase. If you’re just wanting to focus on one word, then pray the word each time you inhale and exhale.
I love breath prayer because once engaged with, it brings God to the forefront of every moment.
How to Choose Your Breath Prayer
- Name What You Need
What is it that you are needing the most from God in this season? Is it rest? Peace? Joy? Hope? Take time to contemplate what your greatest need from the Lord is, give it a name and hold it close.
- Choose a Name for God
How do you normally address the Lord in prayer? Do you use, Father God? Jesus? Lord? Holy Spirit? Identify a name for God that feels natural to you in prayer.
- Pair What You Need with Your Name for God
One of the simplest ways to practice breath prayer is to take the name you’ve chosen for God and pair it with what you are needing most from Him. Here are a few examples that may get you started,
Abba Father, I long for your peace.
Father God, I belong to you.
Jesus, I ask for your patience.
- Choose a Scripture
You can also choose a Scripture to practice breath prayer! I particularly love using Scripture because it’s a great way to stay rooted in the Word of God and memorize short verses. Here are a few you might use to get you started,
- Be still and know // that I am God (Psalm 46:10)
- Return to your rest, my soul // for the Lord has been good to you (Psalm 116:7)
- You have searched me, Lord // and you know me (Psalm 139:1)
*I’d love to go more in-depth on the topic of breath prayer, and have plans to do so in a future post!
May God Bless You on Your Stillness Journey
Always remember, friend, that God is with you constantly.
You are never out of His reach and He is never out of yours. Stillness is an avenue, an invitation, a way of walking and communing with Christ that just requires single moments of your attention at a time.
If neither of these suggestions works for you, don’t be afraid to try something else! Stillness is surrender, and that surrender is meant to lead us into deeper intimacy with God.
And deeper intimacy with God is always the point.
I pray that as you posture your heart towards surrender and rest, God’s slow way of living would effortlessly find you.
As you learn to pause in God’s presence, may each moment of transition be an opportunity for quiet transformation.
May you know that stillness is a way of living and communing with God as you seek to behold more of Him with you in the everyday.
May you cling to the truth that still moments are God-filled moments, and you can access them and Him anytime you like.
And may you remember that grace carries you, always.