Learning to Be

Late November, I hit a wall.

A panic attack out of nowhere led me to spend a week in bed recuperating, watching Hallmark channel movies to the point where there was nothing else in my YouTube feed. (I know, they’re terrible, but everything works out in the end. It’s so comforting).

The attack forced me to examine my life and make the tough decision to drop some significant responsibilities in my life. The mere thought of letting something go brought all the crushing lies of the enemy, “People will be so disappointed. This is proof that you can’t hack it. They’ll finally realize you’re not as great as they thought.”

Those lies dissolved the second I made the decision to quit and focus on less. The decision gave my soul freedom to take a much-needed breath and exhale fully.

But in this new found space, I wondered, “What will I do now?”

Pondering this question one morning on a walk, I felt the Spirit whisper, “What if you didn’t do, Gina? Why don’t you just be with me? Could you do that? Could you just be with me, and enjoy me?”

What an enticing and terrifying invitation. To be Mary, sitting at his feet. To be the woman with the alabaster jar, lavishly wasting precious oil on Jesus rather than doing something practical with her gift. Enjoying his presence, a child with her father.

But the demands and expectations of the world come flooding over that invitation, with me leading the charge.

How can I simply be still with God? How can I waste this time He gives me just being with him, instead of doing something significant and purposeful? How can I just be his child and let it be enough?

Just being feels selfish, when others are busy. It feels wasteful, when I’m used to padding my worth with accomplishments. That invitation is appealing, except when I wonder what people will think if I step out of the spotlight and stop performing so much.

I get twitchy just thinking about it.

But I keep hearing his voice, “Come away with me. Come be with me.”

So I’ve decided the best way for me to be is to remind myself it’s the best thing I can do.

That’s this Enneagram 3’s way around it. Maybe the hardest, but most significant thing I can do today is to just be.

Shauna Niequist, in Present Over Perfect, wrote, “I thought I needed to be fast and efficient, sparkly and shiny, battle-ready and inexhaustible.” So did I.

She chose to ditch those words for new ones, so I’m doing the same. I choose: humble, grateful, generous, poor in spirit, restful, slow. Words that call me to be with God.

Being calls me to set aside my idols of success and performance, to stop feeding myself the stale bread of admiration and reputation, and just rest in the glorious fact that nothing is required of me to be loved. I can just be, and still be enough.

It takes so much effort. When I choose to set aside tasks and just spend time with God, I have to hush the voices that whisper, “You could do more. What are you thinking, just sitting here right now?”

Sometimes, I catch myself when I’m in a whirl to get one more thing done, take a deep breath, and sit for a minute. Yesterday, I literally set a timer for 30 minutes and sat on my porch swing, listening to birds and hoping to hear from Him. It was beautiful, and agonizingly long.

But I hope, over time, that my soul will learn to be with Him. I want, even in the midst of activity, to feel my soul at rest in His presence. I’m relishing the increased capacity I have to be more fully present with Him, with others, with myself. It’s like finding a well in the desert.

Richard Rohr, in Everything Belongs, shares a prayer that I am using to help me find and stay in this place:

Be still, and know that I am God.

Be still, and know that I am.

Be still, and know.

Be still.


Gina Butz
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5 thoughts on “Learning to Be

  1. I remember coming to this point and to this conclusion some time ago when my kids were all four tiny and needy. There were whole days when I would write on the calendar’s square just one word: “BE.” On those days I took off the crazy planning hat I usually wore and just focused on BEING a mum and responding to the needs of the boys as they arose. I seem to remember reading an entire Boxcar Children book out loud to the kids on one of those days–kind of a 90’s version of the Hallmark Channel, maybe?

  2. The invitation to “learn how to be” changed my life a few years ago. It’s such a rich invitation. Thank you for sharing your story, Gina.

  3. Great and challenging thoughts to ponder and apply. Thanks for sharing!

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