Time to Breathe (Being Quiet and Still)

When facing trouble, find time to be quiet and still

A few weeks ago, I temporarily parked my blogger’s ‘pen’ to take the time to breathe, to renew and refresh my spirit. Now I’m back! I would like to share with you what happened, why I chose to be quiet and be still.

“The procedure went really well.”

I heard the doctor say those few precious words in the first phone call I received that day in February.

“Mrs Harkness, your daughter asked me to call and tell you she’s awake.”
The nurse’s voice was clear and upbeat.

I can picture my highly organized and confident daughter with her “I’m-in-charge” voice telling the nurse what she’d like to be done, please. How can that be, after such a huge operation? I had not expected this.

My heart skipped inside me. No, not just skip, more like a twirl. I noticed the bright sunshine outside the windows, the deep blue Sydney sky, and praised God for helping us through this storm.

Ten days later, she was on her way back to our home and her (and our) new ‘normal’.


The ‘new normal’ for my daughter means some adjustments for all of us. What is simple is being re-defined, assessed and re-set. Day-by-day, week-by-week. Her recovery exceeded everyone’s expectations. The journey continues.

Beyond caring for my daughter, I also have a ‘new normal’ at work. An assignment was completed, a hand-over was achieved. There are new opportunities to explore, new people to meet, different business problems to solve, new teams. New things to do and new places to go!

And then there is the rest of life entering an intense season of change and challenge: studies, health, church and friends, and family life.

A lot is going on!

In all of these, I am encouraged to be quiet and be still.

 “In quietness and confidence is [my] strength.” Isaiah 30:15 The Bible, NLT

“Be still and rest …” Psalm 37:7 The Bible, AMP

What is being quiet?

Do I keep my mouth closed and refrain from speaking? But I can have a posture of silence yet still be bombarded by a cacophony of ideas and thoughts in my head!

Do I keep to myself what I really think, but inside me there is a tug-of-war? Do I retreat to the corner and cease from engaging with others? That is not being quiet.

Being quiet for me is like settling into a nice comfortable sofa (though, in reality, standing in the middle of the study), with my thoughts ordered, disciplined, focused, mastered on the One of greatest importance, fencing out the noise and jostling of competing lesser thoughts.

Being quiet is for my thoughts to be ordered, disciplined, focused, mastered on the One of greatest importance.

Many times, the One thought is a passage from the Bible and what it means to me. Other times, it’s a phrase that seeks exploration from different angles.

What is being still?

Stop all movement. Sit down. Say nothing, think nothing, do nothing? No, that is not being still. Against the demand of busyness, being still is a conscious move to resist such frenzied state. Being still is spending energy on the essential and important. That takes a lot of effort.

It requires a lot of strength to resist filling the day with activities, especially when there is a lot to do. (I remember looking over my list of 27 things and choosing 5 for that day. Whew!)

If you imagine being in a storm, lashed by intense winds, what do you think being still is like? Being still is not a passive stance. It is active, vigilant, alert. It’s about maintaining a position, fiercelyresolutely, in the face of events or trouble that can dislodge me from that position.

It requires Spirit, discipline and skill to stand firm, to defend a position when the world gets topsy-turvy.

Being still is not a passive stance. It is active, vigilant, alert.


It’s about maintaining a position, fiercely, resolutely, in the face of events or trouble that can dislodge me from that position.

At times, being still is choosing to go for a walk with a beloved person, rather than continue the filing, the cleaning, the errands, the work. Choosing the important over the mundane.

Then at other times, being still is choosing to visit a friend in need, and praying instead for the others I could not visit. Knowing my limits, yet expanding my boundaries in creative ways.

Then there is being still by staying still, in an open stance of prayer and listening to, even anticipating, the quiet thoughts being dropped from heavenly places.

Being still is to trust, rely on and be confident in God, who is always faithful. That the good work He has started in me, He will finish.

When you choose to be quiet and still, try these ways:

  • Give thanks. At the start of the day, throughout the day and when it ends.

    I start my day, from the moment just before I open my eyes to when I eat my breakfast, by giving thanks for blessings that were, are and those that are still on their way.

    I recognise things I can be thankful for throughout the day. I reflect on those things at the end of my day.

  • Nourish the body and nourish the spirit.

    I eat healthy meals and reserve a special time for quiet and meditation.

    I meditate on the Bible from the start of my day. I keep those thoughts and see where they are relevant as my day unfolds. I reflect on them again just before I go to sleep.

  • Pray.

    I pray through most of my day. (Yes, I was praying when you joined me at the coffee station! I was praying during that difficult conference call. I was praying when I sat down for lunch.)

    I reserve a special time at the beginning and at the end of the day for a burst of intense prayer for five circles: For me & my family, church and friends, community, country, the world.

    The prayers are not long but they are specific, for the ones that come to mind, as I settle into that quiet place in my spirit.

How do you become quiet and still? How do you refresh your spirit?
Do you have other practical ways to achieve quiet and stillness, especially during the tough, challenging times of life?

One thought on “Time to Breathe (Being Quiet and Still)

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