Sometimes life just hits hard and the only thing to do is to be still. Being still – not to be confused with being shut down. Calm contemplation vs. chaotic confrontation. Big difference. One allows for space to regroup, rethink, and reformulate possible solutions. The other stimulates a space filled with refusal, confusion, and pride. One allows space for the hope of a peaceful solution. The other stimulates a space filled with the fear of perpetual conflict.

For most of us, being still is contrary to our nature. We want to get moving, control, fix, get loud, and get ‘er done! While it’s easy for us to shine a floodlight of complaint about what’s happening at our nation’s capital at this juncture in history, the more productive thing would be for us to spin it, turning the light on ourselves. We can argue about who’s right and get bitter about what’s going wrong, or we can reflect on what we can do to make things right in our own little corner of the world, and become better for it.

This whole government shutdown thing has me reflecting on my own methods of dealing with conflict. I can honestly admit there are times in my life that I wish I would have chosen to be still instead of jumping to a conclusion or fighting for my right to be right. It was never worth it…even when I was right. Too much energy is wasted in the process of trying to prove yourself to people who don’t care who you are anyway. If I’m always talking, I’m never listening. There are usually words exchanged in the heat of verbal battle that you come to regret. The thing about words is that once they’re out, they’re out. You can’t take them back. Sometimes they get misinterpreted. That’s even worse. Whoever made up that old “sticks and stones” saying, didn’t know what he was talking about. Words leave scars.

Speaking of words, I don’t want this to be just another blog that bashes the government shutdown – it is what it is. We can’t change that it happened. We all know it’s negatively affecting millions of people. Blaming and name-calling isn’t productive. But I know something that is. Prayer. What if we all got down to business, by getting down on our knees? I don’t have the answers. Obviously Congress doesn’t either at this point. But I know who does. So, I’ve decided instead of griping, I’m praying. I’m going to spend some time being still and asking God to guide our leaders toward a solution that involves active listening, calm contemplation, and considerate problem-solving. Will you join me? Maybe your prayer won’t calm the hearts of the House and the Senate, but it might calm yours.

In the midst of conflict and chaos, hope whispers, Be still.

There’s a story I heard recently that I think speaks well to our current political predicament: Two little kids are playing together in a sandbox in the park with their pails and shovels. Suddenly a huge fight breaks out, and one of them runs away, screaming, “I hate you! I hate you!” In no time at all they’re back in the sandbox, playing together as if nothing happened. Two adults observe the interaction from a nearby bench. “Did you see that?” one comments in admiration. “How do children do that? They were enemies five minutes ago.” “It’s simple,” the other replies. “They choose being happy over being right.”

Now, I’m no politician, but I can’t help but wonder if this simple sandbox model could work for negotiations. Play nice. Everyone’s happy. Amen.

Are you ready to get down to business?