This Bible study I’m doing, “Live Beautifully,” has us examining the books of Ruth and Esther. Before starting the study, I re-read each, as it had been, oh let’s say a while since I’d taken a look at either. One verse in particular in Ruth jumped out at me:
“Then she [Naomi] said, ‘Sit still, my daughter, until you know how the matter will turn out…'”. (3:18)
I liked the idea of a wise older woman telling a younger one to chill out. I underlined the verse. Then I forgot about it.
A couple of days into the study, I was reading its accompanying book, and the author’s take on Naomi’s family. When the going got tough, they packed up and hustled to what they thought would be a better life. It didn’t work out that way, and the author says, “When the going gets tough, the tough should stay put.”
At first I felt defensive. I mean hey, what’s wrong with wanting and pursuing a better life? What about ambition and drive and vision, are those all bad? My last post was all about stepping on the gas pedal, for Heaven’s sake!
Then I remembered the line in Ruth that had jumped out at me. Sit still.
That’s one of the hardest things in the world to do. We work so hard to teach our kids to sit still, yet we adults are hardly masters at it.
Think about how hard it is to take a rest day in the middle of a great running groove. Think about how you want something to happen NOW — in any area of life — and you have to wait. Sometimes for a maddeningly long time.
This theme pops up in parenthood constantly. Constantly. It was poignantly illustrated to me one recent morning when I was trying to brush Caroline’s teeth. She doesn’t like having the toothbrush jabbed in her mouth and is very clear about this, so I was trying to think of a smoother approach. This time, when I started to go in, she grabbed for the brush. At first I resisted — This isn’t playtime! Mama knows best! — but then I paused, shrugged, and let go. I sat still, and watched as she chomped on the brush and worked it around.
It was probably the best toothbrushing she had ever had.
It’s not easy to sit still. We want to move, we want action, we want visible progress. Sitting still isn’t very Instagram-worthy; it doesn’t make for an engaging story or bragging rights. But its value is there, in Ruth. It’s there, in “Look before you leap” and “Measure twice, cut once” and “She ran a smart race.” Sitting still doesn’t erode ambition, drive, and vision; it strengthens and hones them.
I want to see how tough I can be. I want to sit still more.