I had been feeling it for months.
It was nagging at me, coming up in my mind over and over again. And yet, I couldn’t actually put my finger on just what IT was.
All I knew is that I was supposed to do something.
But, frankly, I was so busy doing so many other ‘somethings’ that I didn’t have time to really figure out what this ‘something’ could be.
One night in early December found me indulging in a nice, long, hot bubble bath. The kids were in bed, I had finished a huge project for the blog and had the post all scheduled for the next day. Hubby was happily watching SportsCenter and I was so ready for some ‘me’ time.
I could feel my muscles beginning to relax as soon as they hit the water and with my glass of wine and my book at my fingertips, I knew that THIS must be the the ‘something’ I was supposed to do.
And yet, as I sat there soaking, I found myself feeling almost…restless. How could that be, though?
Kids in bed? Check!
Work done? Check!
Hot bubble bath? Check!
Good book? Check!
Glass of wine? Check!
Everything was in place for this to be the perfect moment of relaxation. So, why didn’t I feel relaxed?
I put the book down, leaned my head back and closed my eyes.
And that’s when I knew. That feeling, that nagging, that ‘something’ I knew I needed wasn’t a bath.
It was stillness.
I could feel it welling up in me. This longing to be still.
When was the last you were really, truly quiet and still?
I’m not talking about vegging out on the couch watching your favorite show. And sleeping doesn’t count. 😉
No, I’m talking about experiencing a true quieting of your mind.
As I sat there getting pruny in the bath water, I tried to remember the last time I had experienced that. And I couldn’t.
But, if I was being honest with myself, I was actually kind of scared to experience it. Which, for the sake of full transparency here, must have meant that in my heart of hearts I’d known all along that I needed to be still but had been intentionally avoiding it.
Why would I avoid being still? That just sounds like all sorts of craziness, right?
Well, frankly, I think I was afraid.
You see, I’ve recently realized that somewhere along the way in my faith journey, my perception of God has been greatly impacted by my perception of…well…myself.
I put a lot of pressure on myself. I have high expectations for myself. And I struggle with feeling that others have high expectations of me.
Sometimes it’s hard for me to imagine anyone wanting to spend time with me just because I’m me and not because they need something from me or want me to fulfill a certain role.
So when it comes to approaching the throne of my Savior, I’ve honestly been filled with almost a sense of dread.
Friends, you have no idea how much I hesitated before typing those words. Because, rationally, I know that isn’t how I’m supposed to feel.
But, for months now (maybe even years!) I’ve had this underlying feeling that if I allow myself to be still in His presence, I mean really, truly still, that He’s going to require something of me. Ask me to do something outrageous. Like go live in a hut somewhere with no electricity or running water. 😉
And this underlying fear has kept me from being able to just ‘be’ in His presence. It’s kept me from being still.
As I sat there in the bathtub, I could feel God asking me to just trust Him in that moment.
“Try Me”, He said.
And suddenly the craving for absolute quiet, absolute stillness, was too overwhelming and I couldn’t resist it any longer.
I put down my book, closed my eyes and lowered myself in the water until it covered the tops of my ears.
All I could hear was the sound of my own breathing.
And quiet. Complete and utter quiet.
The stillness enveloped me, wrapped itself around me like a blanket and I waited. Waited for God to tell me that that I needed to be volunteering more at church. Waited for Him to tell me that I was falling short of expectations. Waited for Him to tell me that He wanted us to sell all of our belongings and start looking for a hut to live in.
But, that’s not what I heard.
What I heard Him saying to me instead was,
“I’ve missed you.”
“I’m FOR you.”
“I want you to just BE with me.”
“I want to be with you.”
Suddenly, the nagging feeling, that sense that I was supposed to be doing something, was gone.
In it’s place was a calming of my soul and an overwhelming sense of peace. Of truth.
Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
It doesn’t say “Let us approach God’s throne with dread because He’s going to tell you how horrible you are.”
It doesn’t say, “Let us approach God’s throne and be prepared to be told how you aren’t living up to expectations and how you really need to be doing a lot more.”
It doesn’t say, “Let us approach God’s throne and come away feeling exhausted and overwhelmed by all that you need to change.”
No. It says to approach His throne so that you will be given MERCY and GRACE and HELP.
Those were all of the things my soul had been longing for. They had been there all along, just ready for the taking.
But my own expectations of myself, along with the expectations I felt others had for me (real or perceived) had kept me from being able to receive those precious gifts there at His throne.
There, in that moment, the water gently lapping up over my ears, my hair floating all around me, I felt such a deep sense of relief. Of renewal.
Of letting everything go.
I felt His mercy washing away my doubts. His grace cleansing me of my sin. His help in accepting that He loves me without condition.
And I was just still.