“Imagine for a moment you are alone . . . no books, no Netflix, no one is home with you. The house is quiet, and so are you.
The longer you sit, the more you feel.
The silence is uncomfortable. An argument with your sister rises to the surface, the sarcastic comment your husband/boyfriend/friend made days ago still hurts, the discontent and discouragement you feel in motherhood slices open a shameful hole.
Longings begin to rise and so does guilt. Guilt over not being fully present with your people shames you, the loss of a loved one aches, the guilt for not being further along in your spiritual life stings.
The longer you sit, the more memories begin to rise, taking you back to years ago. The anger of your father makes your chest tighten. The neighborhood boy who teased you stirs up feelings of embarrassment. These complicated memories and uncomfortable feelings make you want to get up, grab your phone, reply to texts, or reach for a wine glass.
But what if, for a moment, you stay?
Imagine the very places you want to fix, avoid, power through, shout Bible verses at, stuff, or run from are actually the very way to wholeness. Imagine, instead of getting up to investigate what is under the couch or neurotically tidy the mail, you let all those feelings rise. You let them come up to the surface to breathe. You open your heart, talk to Jesus, and find love.
Imagine God is inviting you to follow these feelings. Imagine if you could stay with all those unfinished places within your soul and story and let them become your pathway to freedom.
If we’ve walked with Jesus long enough, we may feel a void inside of us. It is an uneasy place. One without words. We accepted Jesus into our hearts to escape the void. But it’s still there. We know it. It is there inside of us. It makes us feel guilty, ashamed, uncertain, and afraid.
When we withdraw, we abandon our very souls because we can’t make sense of our inner chaotic cell. Everything inside of us has become too much. We begin to believe that counseling or Jesus or communion just can’t resolve the ache we feel. We keep showing up to church or Bible study, but we slowly disengage our souls.
When we work harder, we battle on, grit our teeth and bear down. We read more books, follow more Christian women online, listen to more worship music, and silence all uncertainty. We control and contain and constantly lose ourselves in the need to keep up.
When we walk away, we give up on Jesus and the church. Our faith becomes a complex story from our past. Jesus just didn’t work out.
But what if we are in this place, not because we are doing something wrong, but because God is tending to the soil of our inner world? The process is hard because it means experiencing parts of our stories that make us cringe with painful self-awareness. But the most unlovely parts of us are the very places God is redeeming. God is moving closer.
Yes, stay. Stay where you most resist being.
You are exactly where you’re meant to be. Not fighting to get ahead and not giving up on ever overcoming, not closing the door on your faith entirely but there, right where you are. Simply opening. Simply accepting. Simply moving inward.
This is the sacred gift of staying.“
Copyright 2020, Bethany House Publishers. No part of this may be copied or used without permission. If interested, contact Anjuli Paschall.
Stay is a tender call to enter, to open, and to experience the echoing darkness buried beneath piles of mail and laundry and years of pain. This is a call to follow the fears and frustration to the unknown, frightening places inside. This is an invitation to let Jesus pull out a chair at the table of your soul and hear Him say, “Stay, you and your heart sit down.” Stay is about how Anjuli learned to become a little girl again, asking a big God if He could stay with someone small like her.
a promise + a prayer
Be sure to sign up for my new 5-day series called “a promise + a prayer” starting in May. Each day you will receive a note with a daily Bible promise and a simple prayer to help you stay close to God’s heart. Just a little something to help you pull away from all that is pulling on you in this season of uncertainty and overwhelming concern. And it’s free.