Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Where Can I Turn for Peace?

Our world is so hectic. I feel like I am constantly busy, distracted, often at the end of my rope. There is a queasy, almost constant feeling in the back of my head and pit of my stomach that I've forgotten something. I have pregnancy insomnia (it's 4am now, and the neighborhood dogs are a-barking, so who knows if I'll go back to sleep?) and often I wake up and toss and turn. I'm fitfully trying to remember what I have to do, what needs to be checked off my list. So often, I pull out my phone and scroll through blogs, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram- looking for something to quiet my mind and distract me. But that never really works, does it? I just end up with more on my mind; trivial things that I don't care about, people I've never met or haven't spoken to in years, and new things that I suddenly think are a necessity in my own life.
Lately, the lines from two hymns been running through my mind.
The first, Be Still My Soul is perhaps my favorite song. I still remember a powerful moment of personal revelation that I received while singing it years ago. As a freshman at Brigham Young University, I hurt my foot and tore through my tendons. I had to leave the college that I had JUST been accepted to. I had to leave my new-found friends and happy independence and go home to icy Minnesota for surgery. All my high school friends had moved on to colleges away from our small town, and as far as I could see- my life was ruined. I knew how quickly things moved at college. If I left for a semester, I wouldn't have the same friends and roommates when I got back. The boy I liked would probably have some new girlfriend. The classes I was taking with friends would have to be finished with new peers. All torture. But worst of all, I felt betrayed by God. I knew that I was supposed to be at BYU. I knew that was part of "the plan."
So WHY was I going home? Why had God let this happen? If I was supposed to be at BYU, why was I leaving? If I was supposed to be at home, why had God gotten my hopes up and let me get into this college that I loved?
I was heartbroken, to say the least.
One evening, I was gathered with several friends around a piano. I am not musical, but every other Mormon on the planet is- so they were taking turns playing snatches of musicals and popular songs, while the rest of us laughed, joked, and sang along. I try to remember how it happened, that we started singing hymns- but it was just one of those moments, I think. Someone picked up a hymnal off the top of the piano and started playing. We all sang along. Of course we did. We were good Christian girls who loved a hymn as much as any musical number.
And in the midst of my heartbreak, while experiencing exactly the sort of bonding and joyful moment that I didn't want to give up- we sang the words, "Be still my soul, thy God does dost undertake to guide thy future as he has the past."
And I knew. The spirit gave me a little nudge, and quieted my restless soul, and for a moment- he made it okay.
I was still sad. My heart still ached. I still bawled the entire plane ride home, making everyone on my flight uncomfortable. But I didn't feel alone anymore; I felt supported. I knew that my plans and my worries were going to be taken care of- even if it wasn't how I intended. Be still, my soul.
Be still, my soul: The Lord is on thy side; With patience bear thy cross of grief or pain.  Leave to thy God to order and provide; In every change he faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: Thy best, thy heavenly Friend Thru thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

I am trying to let my soul be still. I am trying to remember that God is in charge, and to let the unimportant things fall by the wayside.
It's hard to do and takes constant reminding.
The other hymn I've been leaning on lately is Where Can I Turn for Peace?
It seems so applicable, lately. With so many sources calling out for my attention, so many distractions. Everything on social media promises us peace, happiness. Right? Easy meals on Pinterest, tricks and tips for losing weight, 5 secrets to a happy marriage.
Everything. So many lists and blogposts offering up advice. So many "articles" explaining why everyone but the author is an idiot. So much drama, all the time, everywhere, and I am addicted to it. And I do not feel at peace.
I feel stressed out. Where can I turn for peace? Where is my solace when other sources cease to make me whole?
Do you do this? I pick up my phone to check the time and find myself on Instagram. I think my fingers have been programmed to automatically open up Instagram without any thought-process from me. I feel badgered and battered by the constant news stream of my friends' lives, but I can't look away.
I feel frustrated and overwhelmed.
In addition to social media, though, I feel overwhelmed with so many moments in my actual life.
Eight months pregnant. Three year old twins. My husband is in India. We are poor, our house is too small, our food is not healthy enough, I let my kids watch too much tv, we don't see Travis enough, I say hurtful things to others, and have my feelings hurt in return. Just. Everything.
Nothing big. I know that I am so blessed, and usually I feel overwhelmed with gratitude- not with grief. But some days it's just all too much.
Where can I turn for peace when with a wounded heart, anger, or malice, I draw myself apart, Searching my soul? Where, when my aching grows, Where, when I languish, Where, in my need to know, where can I run?

Where is the quiet hand to calm my anguish?
Who, who can understand?
He, only One.

I am so grateful to know where I can turn for peace. I am so blessed to have the calm of Christ at the eye of life's storm.
I want my home to be filled with the spirit of Christ- to be a place of refuge and relief. A place to come for peace.
But even when it isn't, I'm grateful for The Lord. I am grateful that I can turn to him in prayer, scriptures, and music and find peace from the noise of the world. Be still, my soul. I can find peace.
And now I think the dogs outside are quieting, and the breathing of my boys sleeping on my bedroom floor is soft and slow. Be still my soul, Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: The waves and winds still know His voice who ruled them while he dwelt below.

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Kristen said...

This was perfect. And exactly what I needed to read this morning. Thank you.

Maddie said...

Yes! Be Still My Soul is my go to hymn when I'm feeling chaotic inside. I frequently debate whether or not to delete instagram from my phone so I won't be as obsessed with it and worrying about all the fun happening without me. I feel like maybe dropping some or all of my social media might make me happier and less anxious about keeping up with the jones's. Thanks for this reminder!

Mr. and Mrs. Hillarious said...

Yes, I know the constant queasiness in the back of the mind feeling. That hymn sure speaks to my should. Abide with me is my other go to hymn. I have four boys six and under and it is very overwhelming right now on top of seasonal depression rearing it's ugly head. The Savior is my source for peace.

Jo Schaeffer-Crabb said...

This is so good. Thank you. I needed this.
You should also check out a song by Steven Curtis Chapman called "Be Still and Know."

tammy said...

I love Be Still My Soul. I can't sing it because I cry every time. But it is so comforting. I love the history of the music too. You are a great person with lots of faith and it will help you. F you ever want to get together and complain about small houses let me know. I seriously know your pain.

mack said...

Thanks for this. I have been feeling overwhelmed of late...and this was just the little reminder I needed. Thanks for being "real"

Nana B said...

This is a very nice post Becky, and yes through all of life if you have faith God will provide, no matter what. There were time in my life when without my faith I don't know how I would have made it. When Mom and Dad died only a year apart, when my sister died at the age of 50 and then 9 months later my brother was murdered and then a few months after that Roger's Dad died. Rough times are when it is most important to turn to God to sooth our soul. But then we also have to remember to say thanks to Him for His support and comfort. So take heart with God's help

Nicole said...

I too have felt the nudgings of God through hymns. I've noticed that the older I get the more I lean on a handful of hymns. And the only radio station that plays in my car is the local Christian one.

Rebecca said...

Thank you.

marge said...

I've been thinking about hymns, too. Lately, I've been relying on them a lot. It's amazing that after so many years, so many people, in a context so different from those in which they were written they still inspire.