“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.” Psalm 37:7
“Eat your dinner”
“Feet toward the floor”
Parenting feels like a broken record, repeating the same requests, yearning for the day where a family dinner can be completed with each child sitting upright and eating their food appropriately. My two older girls quickly learned the rules of the dinner table. Fidgeting was short lived and family meals became a peaceful existence until the boy arrived. Our boy came wired completely differently from his older sisters. The girls sat and contently played with Play-doh or colored. They knew how to be still, to complete a task. The boy has had to learn things differently. Our family meals have become a time, for him at least, to see how many different positions he can sit in his chair. On his stomach, on his back, turned around, occasionally feet are even in view. Adding a fourth child to the mix has made dinner time more entertaining, as she often follows her brother’s lead.
I could easily let meal time go believing, they will eat when they want and they will learn to sit eventually. While being still is more challenging for some, I still believe, for our family, it is something that needs to be expected, modeled, and taught. Money, time, and energy was spent preparing a (somewhat) healthy, nourishing meal. Our children should be expected to eat the meal that is placed before them. Consequences for not being still long enough to complete their dinner results in going to bed hungry and a heated over plate the next day.
I admit being still is challenging for me. There is always so much to do, dishes to be washed and laundry to be folded. If I am sitting, my mind is distracted, as I am watching TV, reading a blog, or skimming through social media.
The latest fidget toy craze makes us believe that it is okay NOT to be still. That we have to be doing things simultaneously. I do not pretend to be a child psychologist, perhaps fidget toys are a benefit to some, however, encouraging the art of “has its benefits too, perhaps even more.
Psalm 37 was written in King David’s much later years. Chronologically, it falls after the time he anointed his son Solomon as king and prior to his own death. I feel as though the wisdom of this Psalm was written for Solomon’s benefit as well as our own. King David gained wisdom by being still as well as faced hard consequences when he wasn’t. As a shepherd, David learned to be still in order to focus on his sheep. The livelihood of his family depended on his ability to be calm, observant, and watchful in order to care for the flock. This position wasn’t given to him because he already possessed these characteristics, but the task fell to him because he was the youngest of his brothers. The lowliest task was given to the youngest child in the family. Learning to be still was life or death for himself, his family, and his flock. Once David became King, he inquired of the Lord on multiple occasions, waiting on God’s response before attacking an army or conquering more land. In 1 Samuel 25, David was preparing to take over Nabal’s land after being treated disrespectfully. His ability to yield, observe, and listen to Nabal’s wife Abigail prevented David from killing all of the men in the area. God ended up dealing with Nabal later on, but many lives were saved due to David’s ability to just be still.
I am so thankful for David’s example to us simply because he experienced failure as much as he experienced success. The times David failed to “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently” had severe consequences. In 2 Samuel 11, David was unfocused, irrational, and forgot the art of stillness. He saw a beautiful woman and hastily impregnated her despite her being married to one of his soldiers. Upon finding out she was carrying his child, he had her husband killed. Although David realized he had failed the Lord and repented heavily, God allowed David to face severe consequences through the death of his child and multiple offspring who were rapists, murderers, as well as one son who tried to kill his own father in order to gain the throne. A little lapse of stillness and focus can cause a legacy of pain.
I want to consistently practice being still. I want to teach our children to be still, be patient, and *gasp* BORED. If our minds are constantly engaged, we will miss God’s voice and the beauty around us. We will miss out on connecting with those around us who need to experience God’s love. I challenge you to make it a daily habit of going somewhere quiet, if only for 5 minutes. Take a deep breath, close your eyes and let your mind be still. God is waiting for you in the stillness, there is so much he wants you to see.