Learning to Be Still

Please check out So Here’s the Thing” with Kathi Lipp, her podcast which offers parents hope, humor and how to’s.  I was thrilled to be a part of her podcast this week, which features Erin’s and my book Free to Parent.  You can hear the whole thing by clicking on “So Here’s the Thing.”

 

And here’s this week’s post on an important topic for all parents:

Be still and know that I am God.

Psalm 46:10

I recently spoke to our young students at school about the verse “Be still and know that I am God” found in Psalms 46. As I looked out into the audience and considered the sweet faces gazing back at me, I realized that I was speaking to boys and girls who definitely knew what it meant to “hold still,” but I wondered whether they comprehended, or even knew how to experience, what it meant to “be still.” 

Growing up in a media saturated world, what will they miss out on if they never learn to experience stillness within themselves?

This inner state of being –  our minds at rest –  is something we need to practice to make it part of who we are. Earlier in Psalm 46,  it states “do not fear though the earth give away.”  To be still in the midst of such terror seems improbable, yet it’s exactly what we are told to do – to be still in the midst of our storms, and turn our hearts and minds to God, the source of our wisdom and strength.

We need to be still at those times of challenge when we are most prone to fretting and taking matters into our own hands. We need to be still throughout each day so that we can hear and know God, who speaks to us continuously, offering us wisdom and counsel. .

But are we more prone to checking our gadgets than we are to being still?

I think back to when I was raising my own kids, when cell phones were first introduced and I said to a friend emphatically “I will never buy a cell phone.”  (I really believed that!) She wholehearted agreed that she wouldn’t either. We did not see the need, nor did we want to grow dependent on such a machine.

Today i am dependent on my iPhone for many things and consider it a necessity in order to stay in contact especially with those I hold most dear.  But there is something I long for from my pre-cell phone years, that I desire to bring back. Rather than immediately reaching for my iPhone when I have a concern for someone, I want to restore the practice of going on my knees instead.  I want to live out a faith that turns to God first – to be connected foremost to Him.  I want to restore prayer in a vibrant way, something that was far easier to attain without a cell phone.

While I appreciate my iphone today, and carry it with me everywhere I go, I recognize how it can distract me, make me restless, and take the place of prayer. As an adult, I at least comprehend these problems, but what about our children who are still maturing?  I am genuinely shocked at the increasingly younger kids, who in growing numbers show up at school with cell phones in their pockets. For many, this gadget serves as a constant temptation and distraction both inside the classroom and out. (They become very adept at using their hidden phones.)

Raising kids in a wired world has benefits to be sure, but as they are learning to properly use these tools, they also need firm, wise boundaries that are vigilantly upheld.

I believe we must also build in regular times of disconnection (for us too) to form practices like prayer that are only formed as they learn to quiet their minds.  Today’s kids could easily become Tech and boyaccustomed to a continual state of mental restlessness and unaware of anything different.

How comfortable are you with stillness or do you immediately go looking for some noise to fill the space? How about your kids?

I would like to challenge all of us to build in regular times that are tech-free?

Almost sounds scary right?

I know of some families who have chosen to fast from media for weeks to break the habit. Others have done so for a few days. And if this sounds too daunting (it does for me presently), how about Sunday? Or part of your Sabbath? What about at least shutting down your technology gadgets at a certain time in the evening? Or waiting until a certain time in the morning to turn them on?

When I fail to build in times of stillness, my prayer life disintegrates,

Therefore, I am trying to develop times of stillness throughout the day in simple ways. For example I keep my mornings phone free until after my quiet time and I turn off my phone at a certain time each evening. In addition, I have quit talking while driving and am freeing up that time for prayer instead.  I want to grow sensitive to the voice of the Holy Spirit and not allow my mind or conscience to be dulled by restlessness. God is “our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” We need only to turn our hearts and minds towards Him to find this.

Will you join me in this challenge?

A powerful article in the Wall Street Journal by Martin Kutnowski:  Fighting the Internet Invasion of Childhood

 

 

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