Here I sit in the library, the familiar knot in my stomach. The fear knot. What am I afraid of? Lots of things—and some people. I’m afraid of snakes and camel crickets, loneliness and boredom. My fear list is long, which isn’t very Christian of me, since I’m supposed to have faith instead of fear. More than most, I fear the disapproval and anger of others, although I can cause both myself! I fear another failure, since I’ve failed so many times at so many things, especially relationships. What are you afraid of? There must be something. It’s human to be afraid once in a while, I think. But, today I was reading through some old notebooks and found a strange antidote to fear. Failing, I learned, can help fight fear.
In other words, when I’ve tried many things and maybe I’ve tried too hard, it’s time to “give it up” (as a sister-in-law says) to God. I was searching for the meaning of the Bible verse (which can be compared to give it up) ”Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10) By “being still” we are to “cease striving.” Please forgive me if I sometimes fail to cite my sources, but just so you know—this is not original—and so “anonymous” gets credit. When I researched the word “strive” to see exactly what to stop striving involves, here’s what I found. To “strive” means to ”exert, compete, toil, try, contend, struggle, fight.”
I’ve done lots of all that, sometimes not well enough, sometimes too well. Sometimes striving is necessary. When I strive, I hope at least once in a while it’s been for a good purpose, although I can be as self-serving as the next person. Right now, my stomach is all shaky because of family issues. I don’t know what to do about all the messes. I obsess and analyze and over-think. I cannot chill out, as my brother Jim suggested. I think “chill out” is the modern meaning of “cease striving.”
To “chill out” is also to ”be still.” My research clarified that being still specifically means to “cease striving, forsake, let alone, let it fail.” (Emphasis mine) Look at that again. When we’ve tried all we know and nothing has worked, we are to let it fail! Oh how I wish I remembered where I read this, because it is so good! “When we get exhausted from trying to take control of a situation—be still,” Anonymous says. ”(God) is in control….When we cease striving, it is the mark of a servant. Stop trying to hold up under your own strength.”
Sometimes, when life is impossible, we can fail into God’s powerful and loving arms.
Comment: Giving up or giving in? When we stop trying to control, we allow others to do their parts, and of course we allow our God to do his. Sometimes when we’re still, life happens around us as it should, and what we couldn’t figure out or couldn’t “fix” is fixed without us. And then, sometimes things just are, and we learn to live with that. Interestingly, the picture I found for this piece was an image captioned as “failure”. What this says to me, is that when we fail, we reach up and reach out.