One of my favorite stories in the Bible is the Exodus story. A story of deliverance; of rescue; of overcoming overwhelming odds. And my favorite part near the climax of that story is what the Israelites are told to do when they are facing certain death: stand still.
That’s it. The army of Pharaoh is bearing down on them, certain to crush them since they are trapped between two mountains and a sea. And Moses says, “All you have to do is stand still.”
Overwhelming fear. Insurmountable odds. Certain death.
I hate being still. I mean, there are some days when I get to veg out in front of the TV or I actually get to sleep in. But as a general rule, I am not still very often. In fact, I love to read and I love to listen to podcasts that others put together, but I don’t do either very often because I have to be still when I do. I feel as if I am being unproductive.
I do not suffer from ADHD (though some would suggest maybe I do), but I do often jump from one activity to the next or one thought to the next. I can be hyper. I can struggle with telling people no. I feel like I must always be doing.
Which is a real problem when something occurs that I can do nothing about:
A sick child.
A broken down car.
A bank fee for a bounced check and the knowledge of five other checks about to clear.
A cancer diagnosis.
A faith struggle.
A question of sexual/gender identity.
A child being bullied.
The Presidential election cycle.
In the face of losing control, my go-to response is do more. Get busy. Work. Find a solution. Apply everything. Go. Go. Go.
And it almost always fails. But the next time I am faced with a similar situation, I certainly am going to do the same thing.
I am nothing if not stubborn.
A long time ago, I was at a summer camp. We were playing kickball. It was fun. At one point during the game, a kid laid his foot on the ball and just launched it—high in the air and deep in the outfield. But the left fielder was there. All he needed to do was put him arms out, take a step or two, and the ball would be right there. Instead, he just stood still. Ball bounced near him. The kicker ran around the bases. Home run.
In a fit of competition-induced anxiety, the coach yelled at him, “Don’t just do something! Stand there!”
Now, it was a mistake. The coach meant to say the more traditional rendering of that cliché. But it was hilarious. It broke all the frustration for the team that gave up a run and allowed everyone on both teams to laugh together.
Little did I know that 30+ years later, that statement would still be with me as one of the wisest, most profound ways to deal with the hard times in life.
Don’t just do something. Stand there.
To be sure, there is time for action. There is time to plan and prepare. But so often, we jump to action first. We need to learn to be still.
What are you facing in your life? Can you be still? Just stand there. Pause. Reflect. Meditate. But don’t just do something. Be okay with standing there.