Be Still and Know

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Be Still and Know



It’s been two months and three days since I wrote in The Darkness that things were bad in a soul way. That I was feeling low and detached and just empty of spirit. I stated in that post that I knew things would get better, because they always do. I knew I’d find my way back to the feet of Jesus in due time. What I didn’t know when I wrote that post, was just how much worse things would get–from my perspective.

Most of you know. I hang my life out there for everyone to see. I need the prayers, the advice, and the ability to let someone else know that they’re not alone, if they’re going through something similar. So, you all know what the last two months have been like for me. Financially it’s been the hardest two months of my entire life–and that’s saying a lot from someone who found out they were pregnant with twins a month after they purchased a house and then quit their job three months later and cut their household income in half.

Looking back, 2009 seems like a piece of cake.

From the time I penned The Darkness until today, I was thrown into a spiritual fire of such heat that my bones actually ached. I knew in the deepest parts of me that I could still strain enough to hear that this wasn’t run-of-the-mill depression. “I think I’m depressed,” I said to Charles one day. “Yes,” he replied. And, he must have known, too, that it went deeper than biochemical reactions, because that’s the last conversation we had on the issue. It’s like he knew I’d come out, as long as he stood within a frantic grasps reach.

About a week after I wrote The Darkness, everything fell further apart than I could have ever imagined. If I’d imagined it, I’m sure I would have foretold such disaster when I wrote that post. No job prospects for either Charles or myself, threats of car repossession, electricity shut-off notices, and far more month at the end of our money sent me face down into my pillow screaming my guts out. I don’t cry that often … but you wouldn’t know that if you met me over the last two months. I even cried in front of my pastor. TWICE. That is NOT something a good Episcopalian girl does. EVER. Yet … I did. I cried because I had to sell things I worked really hard for in order to buy things I really needed. An innocent pair of designer sunglasses I purchased for myself as a congratulations for publishing the last book in the first series I ever wrote was sold to a woman I don’t even know. At least she was really excited to get them. I wish I hadn’t seen her put them on, though. I felt stripped naked. “What’s the big damn deal with a backpack (that I also had to sell) and some sunglasses?” I sobbed to my pastor. Again, the crying wasn’t planned. But as soon as I started talking about my anger, the tears came. In my life, sorrow almost always follows anger. Anger is rarely a real emotion with me — it’s merely my way of acting out my sorrow and not wanting it to swallow me.

“Stop standing back up,” my pastor said. “Let God carry you for a while.”

Instead, I let him drag me for a while. While I kicked and screamed.

But, the bitch of it was, I couldn’t wallow like I used to. I’d get there, and something would pull me back. I’d get there, and then shout “NO. God is good. Do NOT do this. DON’T.”

But that cycle continued, and we call got motion sickness.

Christmas came and went by the skin of our teeth. I sold said things, finally got a seasonal job at the mall, and we were able to piece together a lovely Christmas for each other and the children. Not overloaded with toys, but a couple of things they REALLY wanted. Quality over quantity has always been at the forefront of my mind–but it’s evermore present now.

In the quiet space that follows Christmas, things got even worse. Divorce, alimony, child support (giving or receiving), bills piling up, self-publishing market tanking, another electricity shut off notice, and oh, by the way, the check engine light on my van wouldn’t go away and, yeah, would require a job that would cost $500 for the LABOR alone.

Stop the world. I want to get off.

I didn’t want to go to church. But I did. For three weeks in a row I forced my pitiful self out of bed on Sunday mornings, gathered my flock of children, and we sang those songs, prayed those prayers, and listened to those sermons. I even took notes.

And I hated everyone the whole time.

I hated their smiles and “praise the Lord’s” and “God is good’s”. Didn’t they know I was going to get my damn electricity shut off in the middle of winter and we have electric heat?! Sure, I mumbled sarcastically in my head, let’s praise him all right … thanks for making a huge fool of me God. Getting me to believe in you and perform acts of service in your name because I can’t stop myself from looking homeless people in the eyes, but, yeah, let us freeze to death.


^^ Oh the cynicism. ^^

No, they didn’t know that I was having all of those problems because I didn’t tell anyone. Once in a while I’d let something specific slip on Facebook in the middle of a wallowing tantrum, but I never screamed “HELP!” to anyone except God.

“What is it you expect from God?” my pastor asked a couple of weeks ago. A question that took me by utter surprise.

“Everything,” I answered. “I don’t want to lower my expectations.”


“Maybe it’s not about lowering them.”

“That’s what people say when they really mean to tell you to lower them.”

It’s a wonder that God, and any pastor I’ve ever had, puts up with me at all what with such a needy smartass I am.

After that conversation, I couldn’t meet with my pastor for a couple weeks. But, I made a choice and I prayed.

choice. Brothers and sisters, gather close. If you have nothing left in your soul but your own mind, you have the ability to make a choice. Even if you’re cynical, dried up, and washed ashore, you can choose to pray. A rote behavior that might save your life.

It saved mine.

Twice in one week Charles found me in our bed in the fetal position.

In the middle of the afternoon.

I wasn’t crying. I don’t even think I was blinking. I’m not sure I was doing what Anglicans or Catholics might consider praying in the traditional sense.

I was pleading. Fill me. Fix me. Fill me. Fix me. Take me. Fill me. Please.

Be still and know.

Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God …” and that’s always been a favorite quote of mine. It spurred the title of my best-selling book for goodness sake. An anonymous christmas gift came in the form of a Mantraband with “Be Still and Know” on it.

But I’ve never been still. And in those dark months–2 months that felt like years–I came to the brink of questioning if I knew at all.

So, when I made the choice to pray I wasn’t brought to my knees, like some people describe, I was brought to the most primal of all positions: the fetal position. There I lay. Charles only saw me there twice, but there were far more instances I snuck away to just soul-cry (no tears, just the weeping of my spirit) and say “Please PLEASE help me. please.” 

I hadn’t been able to fully wallow in weeks. Something (shhhh, it was God) wouldn’t allow it because (shhh, I’ve been growing up all these years after all even if my mind won’t acknowledge it). So I took the wallowing stance (fetal) and the warrior mindset (prayer) and decided I needed to make each of them work for me. We’re all different, and our ways out of the pit are no exception.

“Something broke away in me today,” I told Charles 2 weeks ago-ish. He asked what it was and all I could say was, “I don’t know, but peace is in its place.”

Peace. The peace I thought I wanted, and the peace I had before in my life compared very little to this restful and energizing, all-encompassing peace that was showering the resentful dirt of my spirit. Slowly I sat up, spiritually speaking, rose to my feet, and took one cautious step, and then another, like a newborn deer. Stumbling with fear and looking over my shoulder, but several days later I was walking confidently.

And very little about my circumstances had changed. I hadn’t won the lottery, the check engine light didn’t magically turn off, and Charles still hadn’t found stable second employment. The store at the mall asked me to stay on after the holidays, though, because they liked me. I always seem happy, according to one manager who must live with angry people or be popping pills by the fistful. In truth, when she said that to me, I knew God was working. I turned to the manager and said “I’ve never felt so awful in my life, but that’s no reason to take it out on everyone else. God for the win, there.

So, the peace came. I had stable, low-earning income for the time being, and Winter Solstice came and went, giving me a few minutes more of light each day. I had a roof over my head, food on my table, skills to make our food from scratch that saves money, happy, healthy kids, and the absolute love of my life by my sides.

I didn’t lower my expectations: I got out of my own way.

After. AFTER the spiritual revival got underway, other miracles started happening. Ones I may have looked for in the past or specifically prayed for, but this go-round it didn’t occur to me. Because I was too focused on feeling so much better, and hugging the heck out of God, that I was as content as I could be.

Our pastor said “The church is a family, and it doesn’t work if one person has everything while others suffer. We’ll buy the car part for you (Charles and Scott can do the labor after all). Also, we’ll pay Charles for work he’s done on the website. We’re an Acts family. What’s ours is yours.”

Tears. Folks, I don’t know if you know this, but televangelists aside, pastors in the US aren’t rolling in dough. And here our pastor was, telling us his wife had seen one of my (probably incredibly pitiful) posts on Facebook about the state of the minivan and said “Let’s help them.”

Help? From people? Lesson Andrea: God works through people 100{43d0d1614ecc8ec385b3ea9940a88627e26eaf9be88a0641399e0be0c80ef276} of the time. That’s, uh, how the whole Jesus thing came about … oh … right. I have to accept help from people

This was not a faith restoring moment. And I’m glad it wasn’t. I have had such a complicated relationship with money my whole life, I did not need a spiritual awakening to revolve around it. It came after I reestablished myself with God. God has spent the last year and a half breaking down the brick walls of money and insecurity I’ve put up between me and him. I had to sell my stuff and then accept help from other. people. But in between those things I had to shoulder up next to him. To praise him in the storm, to borrow lyrics from Casting Crowns.

The car will be fixed. The electric bill will be paid. Food will sit on our table, and you’re all still welcome for dinner. A friend of mine said this week (After coming out of her own crisis) “You don’t know that you’re going to come through it, but you do.”

But you do.

And you will, too.

I received an anonymous card in the mail today with a $100 gift card to Target, and the note inside said:

Dear Andrea,

Keep your vision in front of you. Keep your faith. God is fighting for you. Your blessings are coming. God bless you.

When I was a little girl, I prayed to God about money when my parents had none.

What I’m praying for now is to not be so afraid.

Test me with patience, test me with anger, resentment, and grief of all kinds.

But God, I trust that you will help me to not fear through it all.

I haven’t lowered my expectations at all.

I’ve raised them.

I will not be afraid. Because God will carry me.

I expect him to carry me.

And he expects me to let him.

Be still, friends. And know.



Photo Credit: Marlin2009

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