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Be still, and know that I am God.   Psalm 46:10

As an ADHD sufferer, I confess that this verse has always given me the heebie jeebies. In high school, I was the girl sitting in the back row of class. If any class lasted longer than 8 seconds, my body rebelled by vibrating in active movement. Leg bouncing up and down under a desk, fast enough to rival the wings of a hummingbird.

“Beth Carroll, sit STILL”, my Geometry teacher would scold in irritation. No matter how hard I tried, the kinetic energy of my brain could not quiet my restless body. Stillness represented a state I was too defective to attain.

Today that message infiltrates more than just my jittery body. Keeping my ADHD company in adulthood is my new friend — anxiety. What ADHD did to my body, anxiety one-upped with my brain. Spiraling tornadoes of “what ifs” raze the landscape of my rationality.

  • What if I am fired from my job for my lack of organization?
  • What if that mosquito bite was actually a spider bite, or worse a brown recluse spider bite?
  • What if I accidentally eat E. Coli laced romaine lettuce, despite it being recalled?
  • What if I forget to wash my hands after going to the grocery store and mindlessly pick a piece of Romaine lettuce from my teeth?
  • What if someone I love gets the virus?
  • What if life never returns to normal?
  • What if I get really sick and there’s no room in the hospital for me?

What if, what if, what if, what if.

All of this is enough to quarantine myself to my dark bedroom, distancing myself from my brain and society.

If being still is the requisite for knowing God, what hope is there for someone with ants in her pants and in her head?

On occasion, I get lucky and a helpful “what if” plants itself solidly in my brain. Yesterday was such a day.

What if this sort of stillness has nothing to do with my capacity for calmly and placidly centering myself so that God is revealed to me, but actually means something completely different?

I went to Psalm 46 to see for myself. In this psalm, disaster is everywhere. There are earthquakes and tsunamis. The foundations of the earth are being shaken and there is a threat that our very creation is being undone. The instability in the political realm is just as severe. Nations are in an uproar. Kingdoms totter. Society as it has been known is on the brink of collapse. Sound eerily familiar?

Yet Psalm 46 says “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change.” Two words jumped out at me: “we” and “fear.”

Newsflash: the future of the earth’s survival doesn’t sit on my shoulders. The fate of humanity does not rest in the hands of one lone virologist holed up in a lab trying to find an immunization. The solution to a corrupt political system does not lie in exchanging one orange-haired leader for another. The future of the world does not hinge on any one of us sitting still on our own and knowing God.

Our redemption lies in seeing the tumult, destruction, death, despair, illness, and dysfunction in us and around us and knowing we can stand in this together. Even if we are kept in our separate homes, we watch for what God is doing around us, before us, and especially with us.

To be still and know God is to allow God to settle the collective anxiety and inner squirrel in our hearts, even when the media incites us to fear. We can know that in such cosmic brokenness, God still chooses us and chooses creation.

This is not a stillness we muster so we can strain ourselves to hear and know God. This stillness is the awe that leaves us gobsmacked when we see the transformation possible if we think and imagine as communities and congregations and not as loners. We do not still ourselves to know of God’s love and power. It is an awareness of God’s power and love that stills us.

  • What if this season is one where the church is reinvented?
  • What if our limited confines bring about unlimited possibility in relationships, creativity, and unity?
  • What if this present time is not meant for the destruction of creation, but actually the birth pangs of something redeemed?
  • What if we are being called to connect our gifts in new and exciting ways to the hurt all around us?

What if? What if? What if? What if?

I think these questions are worth being stilled to hear the answers, even with our jittery hearts, bodies, and minds.

Beth Carroll

Rev. Beth Carroll is the Senior Pastor of Oakland City Church in Oakland, California. She is a graduate of Western Theological Seminary and Hope College, both in Holland, Michigan.  She is married to Richard Perez, who is a theatre artist, and she has three kids - Josiah, Natalie, and a cat named Kate Spade.


  • Nancy Ryan says:

    Well said Beth. Well said!

  • Magnificent. It is hard to let God be God.

    Be blessed,


  • Tom Eggebeen says:

    Loved the phrase: “What hope is there for someone with ants in her pants?” … well said … thank you.

  • Helen Luhrs says:

    Thank you, Beth. I too have an inner squirrel.

  • Rowland Van Es says:

    What if we are just called to lament, what would that look and sound like? What kind of church would we become if we were better at lamenting?

  • Daniel J Meeter says:

    This is good, and helps me reflect on my own soul, and this kind of meditation is one of the reasons I like this blog.

  • Carol Sybenga says:

    Thank you for this Beth!

  • RLG says:

    Thanks, Beth, for a thoughtful article. I think most of us had some form of insecurity, as young people. Some of us were better at hiding our self doubts than others. I remember well, my two sons telling us as parents the reason they got C’s and D’s in high school was they simply were not smart and they were destined to get low grades. That was okay with them in high school because their sole aspiration was to be professional skateboarders. But then in his final year of high school I overheard the oldest telling his younger brother (a year behind him) that he learned the secret to getting good grades. It was, “just listen carefully to your teachers; you have to be in class anyway, so listen instead of daydreaming of skateboarding.” For him, it was, be still and listen to your teachers. And it worked for him. He was on the honor roll for the rest of his high school career. And today both sons are very successful in their professional endeavors. My sons, like myself, were late learners. I wish my brothers had given me the same advise as a high schooler. But we, mostly, get over many of our youthful insecurities and find a measure of success as we get older. Your article reflects a similar success.

    Just a small matter. Even though social media isn’t always positive, by far and beyond, I hear more positivity for the eventual good future of our nation and world. I hear a lot of good will being shared by a variety of people and a lot of confidence that this endemic will be overcome in time through the combined efforts of many. A little positivity goes a long way. Thanks, Beth.

  • Dick Stravers says:

    I am a member of a neighboring church, Pillar, but I don’t think we have ever met. But if your “ants in the pants” personality allows/inspires blogs like this one, praise God. I like it. I like it. And it comforts me in this difficult time. I hope to read more of these from you, words written with legs shaking.

  • Kathy D Van Rees says:

    Oh dear Beth.
    Thank you.

  • Bob Luidns says:

    “We do not still ourselves to know of God’s love and power. It is an awareness of God’s power and love that stills us.” The psalmist would shout her fullest agreement! As do I.
    Thanks, sister in Christ.

  • Michelle S says:

    THIS! ALL. OF. THIS! So So good! In this season of grief and isolation, reading encouraging words like this are so so helpful! A friend of mines posted this of FB and it was exactly the reminder I needed! I should also add, when grieving, (I lost my dad this week) I enjoy some comic relief mixed in with truths, so I appreciated this line “The solution to a corrupt political system does not lie in exchanging one orange-haired leader for another. ” AMEN!

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