I’ve never met anyone excited about the recovery process. In fact, it is rare to meet someone who will follow the doctor’s or physical therapist’s orders without reluctance. Most cheat. Humans like to think we know better. Humans like to think we can push it a little more than we should. Humans, especially Americans, do not like to rest.
For the past 15 months, I have been in recovery. It has not been a physical recovery, but a recovery of my spirit. It’s been a recovery from the strain of being Stephanie’s mom. I’ve been still.
I don’t like to be still.
Often, during recovery, we must do things we do not like. Recovery isn’t based on what we like. Recovery isn’t based on what feels good in the moment. Recovery is about allowing time to rebuild strength.
It seems counterproductive to be still, but God is strict with me. For the past 15 months I have been still and this scripture has become my mantra —
The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.
— Exodus 14:14
This approach to recovery — to be still – is countercultural. We are taught to keep going, to persevere, to fight for the things we want. But when I do these things — which I can — my soul is unsettled and my recovery is threatened.
Still I sat still, for more days, for more weeks, for more months than I wanted. Sometimes I would push my recovery, thinking I should start running again, rather than slow walks. Instead of feeling joy from doing a hard thing, I was zapped, physically, mentally and emotionally. I returned to slow walks.
I attempted to write my next professional book. It failed. Again and again, I’ve started again. I coerced words, manhandled outlines, and forced epigraphs. I was exhausted and returned to my notebook.
I cooked basic meals. Kept up with minimal chores. Took naps. Went to bed early and set my alarm for a later wake up. I learned my kids were like magnets, always finding me. They seemed content to be still. They didn’t mind slow walks. They were okay with doing nothing. Perhaps recovery of the soul is optimized by being still with those who love you back.
I learned stillness isn’t the same as laziness.
Social media makes me tired. The constant barrage of messages to claw for contentment and fight for your own way makes me tattered. It’s not the truth for me.
I’m learning there is strength in stillness. There is value in learning to trust God to fight for me. It takes faith and wisdom to know when to be still. Knowing I don’t need to fight for everything I think I should have is not weakness. Instead, it is strength.
God wants humans happy. Even in the midst of a ferocious storm, we are designed to have joy. There is no joy for me in fighting for my way. Instead, I have learned to be still and know that God is in control.
The beauty of this truth is it is part of a rhythm. I’m learning when to be still and when to press on. Like most things of faith, it is not about doing the right thing, but about being of the right heart. I’m still a recovering perfectionist and learning to be still is not a crime.