The other day I was out to dinner with a close friend and we were sharing a bit about how the COVID pandemic has changed our lives. For me, while there were many times I thought I would go bananas with the stay-at-home order and social distancing, I can now say it was good for my soul. What do I mean? The forced slowing down and coming to a screeching halt was a corrective for my soul. Looking back, I realized that I continually and consistently pushed past my limits for many years. Only when I was forced to stop did I take the time to consider how that might be damaging to my soul. While I’ve had a consistent quiet time and praise time for years, relaxing was not my forte. Since COVID, God has been speaking to me about relaxing. Still serving Him, but serving Him from a relaxed center. In other ways, living in such a way that I bring calm into chaotic situations as a consistent rule of life.
In studying the life of Christ, He consistently brought calm into chaotic situations. Whether bringing peace to a chaotic storm thrashing against a boat (Mark 4:39) or bringing calm to Martha’s anxious heart (Luke 10:38-42), Jesus brought a calming presence. I believe more than ever we need to be bringing a calming presence to our culture. You probably agree, but the question is, how? How do we bring the calming presence of Christ into a culture that is often chaotic? As I’ve been mulling that over in my mind and praying about it, the Lord has given me several tangible steps you and I can take:
3 Steps to Bring Calm
Slow Down. You can’t bring calm to others if you’re frazzled yourself. I am an exuberant person. I get excited. It’s one of the character traits my husband loves about me. However, that exuberance can have a downside. I am learning gradually to slow down the inner workings of my soul. I can still be exuberant but not hyper. Jesus was never frantic or frazzled. Sit with that thought for a few moments. No matter the pressure, He never became stressed out. Even when others put pressure on Him, He remained calm. He never allowed others to hurry Him, yet He was never late.
As I think about you and me, we often carry with us an internal sense of hurry. We feel the pressure of stress and find ourselves feeling agitated. The next time that feeling rises up within you, pause. Breathe. Ask yourself, “Why am I feeling hurried?” Trust Jesus to give you the calm you need in that moment. The truth is that hurry is addictive, and if you don’t take tangible steps to slow down the rhythm of your soul, you will not be able to bring calm to others.
Embrace Your Limits. Ah, this is a hard one for those of us who were born with a desire to change the world. God has designed us with limits. We have a choice. We either embrace our limits, or fight against them. How do we fight against them? We might overextend and try to solve another’s problem when they need to wrestle with issues themselves. We might pack our schedule – staying too busy to really enjoy Sabbath rest. Here’s the thing: Jesus was bound to a 24-hour day just like us. He didn’t heal everyone, nor did He fix every problem in every city. Instead, He lived a rhythm rooted in the Father’s love and embraced His limits as gifts from God.
Spend Time Listening. We can’t bring a calming presence to others unless we learn how to listen. When people are chattering and talking non-stop it reveals the condition of their souls. At the same time, because we live in a world full of chaos, people need to feel heard. Jesus was a phenomenal listener. He took unhurried time to listen to each person He came in contact with. If you want to be a calming presence in the lives of others, put some work into your listening skills. Tune in and offer your full presence to others.
Friend, I believe Jesus wants us to offer His calming presence to a world that wrestles in continual chaos. Would you spend some time considering what needs to change in your life so that you can calmly offer peace to others? Deliberately slow down this week, embrace your limits, and spend time listening. You’ll experience the peace of Christ more fully and you’ll be far more effective at bringing that calm to others.
Psalms for The Anxious Heart is a tiny devotional that I wrote to help bring calm to your chaos. You can order your copy here.