You know how there are times when you feel confident…when you have “it” together…when your encouragement to others springs from a deep knowing?
That is how I felt when I first planned to write this post.
Recently I have been mulling over the peace and beauty of a heart that can stay quiet and settled, no matter what is taking place. And in honesty, I have felt settled.
But then this week happened.
And I am reminded all over again just how needy I am for the same truth and heart-steadying encouragement I have intended to share here with you.
I am quickly nearing the end of this pregnancy. At the most, I have a week until our fourth son is ushered into the world. And as pregnant women are wont to do, I’m feeling all the emotions.
Earlier this week, my feet tread the same hallways, taking me to the same rooms, to talk to the same group of specialists I did when I was pregnant with James. Waiting in a chair and seeing the room in which the quiet of the ultrasound betrayed the loss of our son was unsettling. Of course then, I was relieved when the nurse took me to the room next door. A room with less suffocating memories.
The little boy in my belly stretched his diaphram and beat his heart and squirmed all around, and in very little time, the ultrasound tech told me she had seen enough. He was still just as he should be.
We didn’t really come for that, though. Just a handful of days before another ultrasound had shown that. What I needed was word from the doctor if I would be induced at 36 or 37 weeks. Because the condition I have makes it unwise to go any longer.
I also didn’t really need another reminder from the doctor that my condition can cause stillbirth for unknown reasons. Mothers don’t need to be reminded if their baby is at risk. It’s not really a thing you forget.
The feelings I left with after this appointment made themselves at home with the feelings already residing in my heart–stirring up a cocktail of anxiety and doubt and restless anticipation to just have him in my arms already.
So when I had my second appointment of the week a few days later, and this time the machines warned of heart rates higher than those in the safe range, my emotional cocktail filled up some more and threatened to brim over with hot tears and moody impatience at having to wait to know what it all meant about my little boy.
Back to the hospital I was sent for further monitoring. Possible induction that day was mentioned. The unlikely need for surgery was hinted at, and I was told eating was not an option. So there I sat uncomfortable in mind and body as we waited.
Then after an hour or two, a decision was delivered. Induction was delayed. We were sent home.
Thus here I am this morning. I’m holed up in my bedroom listening to the sounds of legos and kids’ voices carried past a closed door, admiring the sunshine and shadows on the trees outside my window, and still piecing together thoughts about cultivating a quiet heart that stays settled in the midst of uncertain waters and rough winds.
Because despite a trying week, the truth remains.
God can be trusted and we can be settled.
It seems counter-intuitive to remain calm when the path ahead is unclear. It seems like we ought to be doing more than fighting for faith when life is at stake. It seems like the ball is in our court and the shots are up to us.
But that just shows how often we miss the beautiful paradoxes of God’s wisdom because we are determined in our self-reliance or resigned to living in the dark places of fear and doubt.
In our women’s Bible study this month, we talked about what being “quiet in spirit” means. As I pondered the phrase beforehand, I kept coming back to a picture of being settled in and at peace. Of not being one to shake a fist at God’s providence or call into question His goodness.
Looking forward to the days ahead, I am struggling for this quiet spirit.
One thing I am learning is that being settled in your spirit is a lot like being settled in your home. There is no arriving. You do the hard work of organizing and cleaning, and then realize the work does not stop there. Stuff accumulates almost without end and needs to be placed somewhere. Either it’s worth keeping around or ends up in the discard pile.
If the work is neglected, the home becomes cluttered and overwhelming. In that condition, it is anything but the place of settled rest it is meant to be.
The hard work we do in our hearts to remain settled is the same. We cannot expect to arrive at a quiet disposition and stay there– at least not in this life. We do the hard work of organizing our hearts and minds according to the truth of God’s word. We clean out the attitudes of disbelief and fear.
And we feel settled. At peace.
But just like in a home, things keep coming in. People get sick. The long days of motherhood leave us worn and weary. Marriages face storms and friendships see dry seasons. Pregnancies are difficult or hard to come by. And the feeling of being settled is threatened.
So what do you do?
You purge what needs to be purged. Discarding feelings of fear, anxiety, doubt, and discontent.
And you put on display the beautiful things that make the home of your heart at peace. Reminders of God’s steadfast love. Trust in His kind providence. And prayers. Lots of prayers.
For me right now, this looks like praying more than worrying. Not making decisions based on fear. Speaking the truth to my husband, and listening when he does the same for me.
I am writing this now because I NEED it. I need to get my head wrapped around these truths so that I can face this last week as I should. I need the help to get back to being settled and ready for the uncertainty of waiting and the rigors of labor.
But what about you? What is it that you need to do to get back to a place of being settled? Are you clinging to anxiety because it seems more real than faith at the moment? Do you need to do a heart cleaning to make it a place of peace and rest again? What beautiful truths do you need to put on display?
I pray that we each can confidently walk into this next week with settled hearts.
My heart is filled with thankfulness to Him who walks beside
Who floods my weaknesses with strength and causes fears to fly
Whose every promise is enough for every step I take
Sustaining me with arms of love and crowning me with grace.