As an off-the-charts extrovert, I only have one speed -- wide open. This trait serves my work as Connections Minister particularly well since my responsibilities include welcoming guests and new members at our church, working with small group leaders, and helping volunteers find a place to serve. Making new friends and helping people find a place in our church family is a constant place of renewed energy for me. If I’m not working in one of these areas, chances are that I’m off somewhere doing communication training in the corporate world. So one way or another, I’m probably zipping around in my high heels, holding a Diet Coke, talking to people. While I certainly admire the Marys in the world, I’ve embraced my Martha. Despite this frequent zipping, I do sit still at least once per week for our weekly ministry staff meetings where we have a devotional before we attack the details. For the past few months, we have been learning and practicing different genres of spending time with God for our personal spiritual growth. One of the spiritual formation methods we have been encouraged to try is an exercise from the contemplative method of just being still, to pray without words and to enjoy God’s presence during the quiet.
This contemplative method is not set up for the extroverted, Diet Coke drinking, heel clicking zippers. And although I grew up reading Scripture and praying diligently, just sitting still was not only out of my normal personality preference, I just never had a whole lot of direct exposure to the art of sitting still, being quiet in God’s presence.
Of course, In my peripheral vision, I knew people were practicing the stillness; but clearly, I just wasn’t that interested, and I really loved to zip. So when I was asked to try the stillness exercise, I wasn’t in adamant opposition; it was just something I had never chosen to try beyond a couple of times at camp. I dutifully put it on my to-do list with an impressively inadequate amount of commitment. My commitment was quite apparent at our next staff meeting when I had to confess that I was still zero times. I sincerely just forgot to do it – pathetic. Even more pathetic was the next time I tried it a few weeks later. I put it on my list with a bit more commitment. I looked at the reminder every day and blatantly said, “Nah.” Once again, I admitted the truth to my team. One of my colleagues asked, “So what did you learn about God and about yourself?” Good question.
Christmas and New Year’s passed and I had the opportunity to choose an exercise from any of the genres as we continued our spiritual formation group. The contemplative chapter came to mind and since I clearly had lots of room for growth there, I chose that one. I had to review the chapter to even remember what the options were. Oh yeah, the sitting still. Awesome. This time though, I was semi-sincerely determined to make it happen. And shocker, I did make it happen. There are two places that I’ve found conducive to the quiet. The first is in my bed before my feet touch the floor, and the other is in my car before I go to my office every morning. In these places, I find space and permission to be quiet and still.
It’s only been a week of spending a very few minutes being still, inviting God into my quiet, but I’m grateful for the baby step. I certainly do not claim that I’ve developed a habit; it’s too early for that. However, as I recognize almost everyone is more still and quiet than I am, there might be someone out there who may need to create a momentary, quiet, still spot with God. The result of my baby step has been lovely for me. God has chosen to send me songs which I receive as tiny gifts during our quiet time together. With so many massive problems, conflicts, and oppressive anxiety swirling around me, it feels amazing to be greeted by my Father, with such a sweet and personal gift. In Mississippi, we call these gifts “happies.” The songs do make me happy, and I think I zip and click a little better because of them.