The Pain of Being Still

I’ve had a difficult time writing today. Not because I have nothing to say. (I’m pretty sure that is a rare occurrence for me!) The problem has been my inability to be still.

 I have done something to my back, and for the last couple of days, sitting still has been nearly impossible. As long as I’m up and moving around, the pain radiating from my lower back into my legs is manageable. When I have tried to sit or lie down for any length of time, the discomfort has grown to the point that I physically cannot stay still.

Thankfully, the pain is easing slightly this afternoon, and I am able to sit down and put some words on the screen.

As I thought today about what I might write when I was able, I began to think of other times in my life when I have experienced a different kind of discomfort in being still. There have been so many times when I occupied my mind with anything and everything I could find or kept myself busy in any way I could think up to avoid being still with my thoughts.

 Have you ever been afraid to be alone with your thoughts? Have you experienced the discomfort of being still?

Typically when I experience that discomfort, it is because there is some thought or feeling I need to face. I keep my mind busy with television or music or Facebook or sometimes more productive tasks – anything I can find to avoid facing the issues I don’t want to deal with. I find it interesting (and often annoying) that God rarely lets me get away with avoiding the issues for very long. I’ve lost count of the TV shows which He has used to speak to me about the very things I’ve immersed myself in the show to avoid!

The thing is, I know that the sooner I allow God to bring things to light and speak His truth in the midst of the pain, the sooner I can be free to run with Him again. The world tells us that staying busy is the way to be productive, but I have found that in these times when I’m staying busy for the sake of busyness, the most productive thing I can do is to be still and let Him remind me that He is God in my circumstances.

And now, friends, as I get up and pace my flat and do some stretches to find relief, I invite you to be still and see if there is discomfort or pain for which you need some relief. If you find yourself unable to be still, I encourage to ask God for His help to face the cause and let Him bring healing and peace.

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Growing Pains

I was stretched today. I know it’s normal to be uncomfortable when you’re taken outside of your comfort zone. (That’s the whole point of a “comfort zone” in the first place. ) Today, however, I was taken well beyond that zone. (I wish stretching outside our comfort zone resulted in being a bit taller and thinner, but alas, I am the same size as I was this morning.)

Nothing bad happened today. I was invited (read “volunteered”) to accompany a singer for a number of songs during an event in a local church. I play the guitar just enough to sing along and lead worship on occasion, and that’s fine most of time. Until today, I had never played accompaniment for someone else, and it was a stretching undertaking for a number of reasons which aren’t important. The point is, I was taken far outside my “zone”, and it was a very challenging experience.

I could have avoided the discomfort. There were a couple of instances during the process when I could have said “no.” No one forced me to pick up the guitar and strum it. I made the choice to say yes to a request.

As I have thought about the situation this evening, I have realized once again that it is most often in the uncomfortable places where growth occurs. When God told me my word for 2016 was “Growth,” I knew that on some level it would involve growing pains. Saying “yes” to God and other people often involves discomfort. Sometimes, it is momentary discomfort of playing a guitar in front of a group of people and feeling completely inadequate to the task. Other times it may involve saying goodbye to loved ones and moving far away or missing big moments in the lives of those we love.

Growing pains are not fun, but growth rarely happens without them. Yesterday, I celebrated two years of living in Ireland. It has been an amazing experience, and I would not trade the life I have today for anything.  I am not the same person who arrived here back then, but all of the growth that has occurred has brought a measure of discomfort and pain.

Still, pain isn’t something to be feared. It’s not a thing to be sought after for no reason, but growth and even healing require a certain amount of discomfort. If we avoid experiences that take us out of our comfort zone, we will never reach our potential or discover the new things God may want to do with us. I have no idea what might be coming around the corner in my life, but I pray that I have the courage to continue saying “yes” to opportunities no matter how uncomfortable they make me.

What are you avoiding that might take you beyond where you are comfortable? What might you need to say “yes” to today? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!