Updated: Oct 2, 2019
I have a confession. Don’t judge, but I often run away and hide in the bathroom at work. Well, to be honest I also hide in my bathroom at home, and sometimes in my closet. There... I confessed it. The awful truth, is that sometimes I just am so overwhelmed I run and hide. It’s not not the running away we did as kids when we were fed up with the rules. You remember the time where we packed up our rolling Dora the Explorer backpacks with the essentials: peanut butter (hey, it’s a protein source), Little Debbie’s Swiss Rolls (chocolate at any age is a necessity), and our teddy bear (our traveling companion), and made it all of one block down the street before giving up and returning home. As adults we still run and hide in lots of ways—mine just happens to be the potty; yours might be Target.
The truth is I hide at work in the middle stall of the ladies' room just to catch my breath. Yup, sure do. I work at a university where I have a thousand and one interruptions a day. While I love what I do and who I serve, sometimes I am just so inundated with demands from every form of communication—emails, text messages, GroupMe, Facebook Messenger, Slack, land line, mobile phone, What’s App, face to face. The task list grows and overwhelm consumes me.
When I start to feel this way, I run and hide in the bathroom. I sit on the potty and breathe. Yes, just breathe. I close my eyes and take a few deep breaths. I know it sounds a little crazy but it’s the one place where I feel like I can hide for a few minutes in order to just be still and alone. To be present and in the moment. To seek God without interruption.
But being still isn’t something most of us do well is it? Our lives don’t really let us sleep in, have quiet uninterrupted hot showers, or lazy days floating in the pool. We live in a noisy world that values productivity and efficiency over quiet, solitude, or rest. Yet, we are called to live counter culturally to this.
Psalm 46:10 encourages us to “Be still and know that I am God.”
I’ve always loved that verse, despite the fact that stillness seems so elusive. She is a fantom that beacons and yet evades. When you break down this verse there are two parts to it: being still and knowing God.
The Hebrew word for “still” means to hang limp, sink down, be feeble, not to be lazy, to leave alone, abandon, withdraw. Many days we feel limp from the demands of the day; many of us feel like we are sinking in the quicksand of stress, anxiety, and fear. Certainly we aren’t lazy, I mean have you looked at your day planner lately? Where’s the whitespace? But how many of us can for a moment (or two) leave alone, abandon, or withdraw from the noise and move towards the quiet nestle of God the Father?
The second part of this verse uses a Hebrew word for “know” meaning to seek, ask about. I remember when I first met my husband. We met at Publix, yes, where shopping that day really was a pleasure. He wore a tank top revealing a large tattoo on his shoulder, and had a Puerto Rican flag as a do-rag on his head. Let’s just say, he didn’t look like the blue-eyed Vineyard Vines GQ man I had imagined myself to spend my life with. I won’t share our entire first meeting story, but suffice it to say before I agreed to go on a date with him I checked his references. Oh yeah, I sought out others who knew him and asked a lot of questions. He sweated it out for three weeks while I conducted my due diligence. I wanted to know who I was investing my time with.
As I think about this in relation to Psalm 46:10 I ask myself, do I invest the same amount of time seeking to know God? Do I spend more time reading Amazon reviews or asking on Facebook or Insta for “ISO” recommendations than I do with my Creator? Shoot, I feel convicted even now and tears are welling up.
If I’m honest, I spend more time asking God about my circumstances and WHY they are happening to me, then I do asking the question WHO do you want to be for me in the midst of them. Or WHO do you want me to become as a result of them. I think knowing God involves an intimacy that can only come by being still with Him.
And who is him? Who is the God we are to be still with? Is He someone we can trust? Is He safe? In this instance, “God” is from the Hebrew word Elohiym meaning majesty, or any person characterized by greatness or power, mighty one, great one, judge. Who God is, is One who has the power and might to overcome the overwhelm and speak peace into our craziness. But to know this peace requires we be still with Him.
Maybe the antidote for overwhelm is to be limp, to withdraw (even to the bathroom) from our never ending task lists in order to seek out the majesty and power of who God is, and who He wants to be for us in the midst of our mess. As we quiet our minds, abandon our agendas, silence the noise, we begin to train our ears to hear the still small voice of God who calls us to a place of rest.
A place to just be. Not do. To be still and know that He is God, even if that means running to the middle stall of the bathroom to find Him.