Psalm 46:10, Be still and know that I am God.”
So much of the healing I’ve experienced has come through cultivating an intimate relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Now before we continue, let me give you one of the definitions I found for cultivating, “try to acquire or develop (a quality, sentiment, or skill).” Developing a skill takes time and patience.
Perhaps the most significant barrier for me to acquire this skill was working as a pastor. Go figure! The more successful I became, the more approval and applause I received. I had an insatiable drive to do more and be more.
Doctors Minirth, Meier, and Hemfelt write about this drive: “It’s a drive that may be masked by charitable and positive motives, but in reality, originates in deep, perhaps even unconscious, feelings of inadequacy and shame.”
“Drivenness can often lead to addictions. In this case, addiction has a much broader meaning since we believe that people can become addicted to almost any kind of behavior or activity—work, fitness, perfectionism, sports, collecting antiques, rescuing other people, acquiring financial status–the list goes on and on.”
The behaviors and activities I just listed are what the doctors call “applauded addictions.” These are difficult to recognize because they masquerade as strengths.
My drivenness in ministry gave me the attention and the approval I hungered for throughout my life. It felt good to feel noticed and no longer feel invisible. My feelings of inadequacy and shame brought about this drive in me. Unbeknownst to people, they reinforced a continuation of my obsessive behavior. This made it difficult for me to recognize my drivenness as a problem.
Doctors Minirth, Meier, and Hemfelt, “What seems like a positive activity can become a destructive addiction that can cause excruciating pain to its victim and dangerous fallout for its victims’ family.”
So many men and women here in Silicon Valley are all about achievement and accomplishment. Promotions, honors, status, and the financial security these provide are gas on the fire of their “positive addiction.” Their focus on their success can ruin their marriage and relationships with their children. For single people like me, it can bring about the neglect of one’s legitimate needs.
How can you tell if you have a healthy dedication to work, the gym, etcetera, versus compulsivity?
Doctors Minirth, Meier, and Hemfelt help us with this determination. “Compulsivity is an addiction to achievement and accomplishment. Obsessive-compulsive behavior is based on the mistaken notion that mastery of my body, my performance, and my physical and material environment is the only true source of personal satisfaction and the only answer to my deepest emotional and spiritual hunger.”
“At its roots, compulsivity reflects my inability to appropriately love and value myself apart from external achievement. This inability to accept myself comes from a state of spiritual alienation and from my inability to accept God’s unconditional love for me.”
How harmful was my behavior to my health? My drive to succeed caused me to set aside my needs for a healthy community and my soul’s care. I was smiling on the outside but depressed on the inside. The doctors call this “smiling depression.” I also found myself using alcohol and pornography to comfort my feelings of dread and loneliness.
I think for many of us, learning how to live a balanced life will take some doing. Author Brennan Manning helped me tremendously through his writings on how to come present to the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. I found refreshing his honesty about how difficult it is to cultivate one’s ability to be still. Those of us who struggle with compulsivity and an enormous drive to achieve and accomplish will find it difficult to stop our motors. It won’t be easy. To sit still and do nothing makes us feel that we are wasting time. But this wasting time will help us connect to our actual thirst and the ache in our hearts for love.
Take a minute and meditate on these words from Psalm 46:10 right now. “Be Still.”
This phrase is derived from the Hebrew word Rapa, which means “to be weak, let go, and release.” Essentially, it means to surrender, cease from your striving. In the CSB translation, it says, “Stop your fighting, and know that I am God, exalted among the nations, exalted on the earth.” For those involved in the war, that life can be at times; we are told to stop. Stop your frantic activity and come present to acknowledge God so that you might come to know Him and learn to trust Him.
But remember, a value without action is only half the equation.
My prayer is that you’d consider thinking about these words for a few minutes each day. Be still and know that I am God. I’m hoping it will become a rhythm of three or four times a day for you to stop and acknowledge Him so that you can grow in your awareness of him and your heart.