Be Still, My Soul

Be still, my soul; the Lord is on thy side;
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul; thy best, thy heavenly, Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul; thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence, let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul; the waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.

 

I was sitting at my desk recently, stressing about life. Not that things are that bad, but I was feeling overwhelmed and scared.

I know the saying… that faith and fear cannot exist at the same time, and still I feel like a faith/fear parfait with layer upon layer bringing new waves of emotion.

It was in the middle of one of these fearful moments when this song began playing in my ear.

I had switched my Pandora station from one of my usual selections, to play some comforting and uplifting music. I chose the Mormon Tabernacle Choir station.

As the lyrics started, I found my thoughts pausing and my mind focusing on the words.

Be still, my soul; the Lord is on thy side….

I didn’t feel that way.

I had felt rather alone lately in fact.

I was feeling somewhat forgotten, and had been wondering why I felt that my prayers seemed not to be getting answered.

Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;

I know my trials at this time are not extreme or unique. Still, to me, right now, I felt extremely overburdened.

Then came the line that drew buried tears to my eyes…

Leave to thy God to order and provide;

Provide… that is what I have been praying for. I felt that in spite of all my best efforts, I was falling extremely short of where I wanted and needed to be. I fear the coming Christmas holiday, knowing I am already stretched so thin. I can’t imagine providing my children the Christmas I dream of, while knowing it is taking everything I have just to make ends meet.

Again, I know I’m not alone in this situation. My trials are not unique. This is not my cry for assistance or help. Sitting there, at my desk, the busyness of office life going on around me… I broke down and cried.

I kept it quiet. I managed to keep my face covered as my colleagues passed by. But still, I couldn’t stop it. I began pleading with my Father as to why I seem to never get a break. Why am I always so overwhelmed? I work hard every day at my job, and I have to do side work just to find enough… and yet it never quite is.

In every change He faithful will remain.

Change… I had experienced change. A divorce… trying to raise my children half the time without any help… while managing all the work and all the finances and all the household responsibilities, not to mention church callings, and scouts, and primary and mutual activities. All the while I’ve managed to find an amazing girl who sees past all my scars and still wants me in her life. Change… there has been plenty of that.

Be still, my soul; thy best, thy heavenly, Friend

Was He my friend? Did I treat him like one?

I don’t keep many friends in general. I’m a rather personal guy with little time for socialization anyway. I don’t know the last time I spent any time just hanging out with a friend. So was He really my friend?

My best… my heavenly friend? Seems like I should feel pretty amazing spending time hanging out with Him. Maybe that’s the problem… I’m not making much time for Him.

I read (listen) to my scriptures most days on the way to the office. I listen to conference talks to help calm and inspire me. I attend church regularly and try to participate, even teaching Elders Quorum regularly. So why did this concept of my heavenly Friend feel so unfamiliar?

Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

My way feels very thorny right now. It feels impassible. I don’t know how I’m supposed to get to where I want to go right now. I have spent time studying the concept of pathways being hedged up in order to channel us to where we should be going, but right now it feels that every pathway, even every step, is being blocked with thorns and impossible obstacles. All my effort feels wasted, and it leaves me feeling so tired and full of doubt.

By this point I had stopped whatever I was doing and had sat back to absorb the words of the calming song.

Be still, my soul; thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as He has the past.

calm-in-the-storm_hope_faith_belief_personal-development

The next line pierced my heart, and sent waves of emotion through me…

Thy hope, thy confidence, let nothing shake;

Hope… I had lost hope.

Not long ago I had written a whimsical post comparing hope to a cookie. I had even gained a reputation with my colleagues of being Mr. Hope.

Here I was, just a few months later, and I had let hope escape me.

Without that hope, I had no confidence.

I was praying, fervently, pleading for blessings. I pay tithing, not in expectation of specific blessings, but with a belief that I will have what I need when I need it. And here I was, sitting with no hope and no confidence, in spite of my best efforts to maintain them.

Why? Why was I going through this? Why did I seem to continually go through these trials that bring such sickening knots to my stomach? Why can’t I just feel normal for a change, like things are all in order and everything is going to be alright? I can’t recall the last time I felt that way.

All now mysterious shall be bright at last.

Everything seemed mysterious to me. There were so many “why’s” going on inside my head that they strung together like an imprisoning chain. I felt captive by my troubles and doubts in overcoming them.

Be still, my soul; the waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.

Waves… I had been feeling waves… waves of fear, doubt, and worry. Could my Friend calm my waves? He is the Master of all. If he can calm the wind and the waves, surely he could calm my fears. Why wasn’t He?

But He was.

In this moment, when all that I know was finally working its way up through all that I’ve let take over, I was feeling a calm I have not known for too long.

Still holding the fear I’ve grown so accustomed to, I was finding myself reaching for the hope that I had misplaced. I felt them both, like two separate ropes in opposite hands. I wanted to hold on to them both, but knew I couldn’t. I’m still fighting the decision, clinging, fearing to let go.

I let the song finish playing. I had managed to keep my wet face buried behind my computer monitor to guard my shame of my vulnerability. I sat there for a few moments just wondering what I was supposed to do with it all.

Then I found myself writing this. I felt compelled to share this raw and personal moment, in the hopes that someone else out there sitting in their own fearful prison of hopelessness might find some comfort.

I don’t have the answers yet. I keep looking at my inbox for a magical purchase order to appear, but it hasn’t. I keep looking at my phone wondering if my clients will pay me what they’ve owed, but no calls are coming in.

And yet, I feel a stillness in my soul.

I find myself believing just a little bit more that things are going to work out.

The pit in my stomach feels a little bit smaller.

I don’t have any answers. I don’t think I really am supposed to know how it’s all going to work out. But I’m reminded that it always does. Every time. Not necessarily in the ways I think I might like them to work out, but it always does.

It always has. Year after year I have faced moments like this, and somehow I always manage to get through them. I can’t recall how. I don’t remember what fixed things. I just know I’m still here, and my life isn’t all that bad, and I feel that my Friend must still love me.

The moment is gone, but the feeling, thankfully, mercifully, remains.

Be still, my soul; the Lord is on thy side…

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