I had forgotten to get gas. Again. I coasted to the gas station thereby further postponing a favorite Wednesday afternoon confection. Milkshakes would have to wait until we had the necessary petrol to get us to our shake destination and beyond. The Martin 3 were all set for milkshakes. We had just come from our usual milkshake purveyor whereupon we were informed that the “shake machine just went down.”
Milkshakes would be had, but first gas.
As I set the pump to go, placed the nozzle in the gas receptacle in my van and began to pump, I leaned my weary back against the van and watched the numbers steadily move upwards. It had been a long day and even just a few minutes of peace propped against my van were welcome. Immediately the solidarity of my prop began to waver. Indicative of the wiggly occupants, my van gave way to the force inside.
“Be Still!” I commanded.
My youngest had an “itch.”
Again, “Be Still!” Again, protest from inside.
Garbled words I couldn’t make out beyond the itch issue and looking for something. The van continued to shift beneath my back, “If y’all don’t be still this the van’s gonna roll right away!”
Hearing the words from my mouth caused me to pause and look around. In my head I had planned to sound like a stern Mama who means business, one who would never entertain such frivolousness as a milkshake on a Wednesday afternoon. Out loud I sounded like a hypocrite with a tremendous Southern drawl. I knew it and my kids knew it. The lady at the pump facing me knew it.
I hear this phrase often. He is not one to order folks around, and by folks I mean near anyone but the 3 Martin kids. So when he says this to me, I know my husband, Scott Martin, has reached the point of exasperation.
“I said Be still!” They’ve heard him say it to me multiple times in the course of their lives, so when I said it to them I suppose it didn’t really give them cause to act.
When I was a kid, my mama used to say the same thing. She has said on more than one occasion “You weren’t a bad kid you were just into everything. I couldn’t turn my back on you for a second.”
Not a bad kid. Not a bad adult, I just couldn’t, I just can’t be still, or at least that is how it sometimes feels.
Being Still requires much in the way of self-control. It requires that I am intentional about what I am doing, or not doing. To be still requires not just self-control but a concerted effort to do just that. To be still requires practice and patience, I am seriously lacking in the latter. Ninety-Nine percent of the time Scott Martin tells me to “Be Still” I am completely unaware that I am not “being still”.
When I was little the “Be still” would often come when I was in church, it would be commanded as I received a hearty pinch on my shoulder from the church pew behind me. I recently learned that horses respond to pressure and release. In a sense I was the horse, Mama the horse trainer. That pressure on my shoulder was my signal to be still. To be quiet. To cease doing whatever it was I was doing. Evidently, horses are better learners than I because I still struggle with this one.
I spent some time a while back focusing on the Being Still. It might be because my Mama painted Psalms 46:10 on a 4 foot tall canvas that hangs in my living room, or the fact that my Husband makes that statement to me no less than five times per week, or perhaps it is because it seemed for a while that no matter where I went those words were chasing me. I’d be in a store minding my own business, doing my dead level best to stay on task and get a move on, when all of a sudden I’d look up and there it was, scrolled in some fancy font on all manner of surfaces.
Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God.”
It would seem I needed a reminder or several as it were, to Be Still. That prompted me to think and ponder on it. If I want my children to retain something, I do not have the luxury of telling them one time and it sticks. I must say it repeatedly. Sometimes I have to demonstrate what I want them to know or write it down. Often times, I then begin to rhetorically converse with myself about the monotony of having to repeat myself and how wearisome it seems. It takes me back to a time when Maggie Martin hadn’t been Maggie Martin all that long.
She was 18 months old when she got off a Greyhound bus on Good Friday Morning at the downtown bus station and her life with us began. From the very beginning food was, and still is, a big deal to Maggie, she is all about quantity. Quality, not so much. She’ll take a sub-par all you can eat buffet, over a smaller portioned gourmet meal any day. I reckon that is rooted in memories of when food was not always available or nutritious.
In the early days, I spent the first several years of her life attempting to repair her poorly nourished gut. It was one such occasion when I learned a valuable lesson. It was early, like dark-thirty early, like every morning before and every subsequent morning, she wandered into my room, stood on my side of the bed and in her toddler voice said, “I’m hundry. I want a tootie from Piddly Widdly.” (Translation, “I’m hungry! I want a cookie from Piggly Wiggly.”)
As I did every morning I got out of my bed hauled my tired ol’ self to the kitchen and began preparing her daily oatmeal. The entire time she would protest.
“I don’t lite oat-milk, I want a tootie!”
She was letting me know, just like she did every morning that she did not prefer oatmeal, she would like to have a cookie. My rebuttal was always the same, “We don’t eat cookies for breakfast we eat oatmeal.” Everyday I would then sit down and feed her said oatmeal whereupon she would declare, “I lite it! I lite oat-milk!” My response was always the same, “Yes ma’am you do.”
She would then complete her breakfast and we would begin our day, long before the sunshine would. The battle won until it repeated itself again the following day just as it happened the day before. One particular morning I must’ve grown weary of the oatmeal versus cookie battle because I looked at her and said as I placed the prepared bowl of oatmeal on the table, “Maggie, what in our history together makes you think I am going to let you have cookies for breakfast?”
She just looked at me with her big brown eyes, eyes that had seen more in their 18 months of life than many adults have and continued on with her oatmeal protest. As He is accustomed to do, the King whispered in my ear. “Amy, That’s exactly how you are with Me.”
I realized in that moment that what Jesus was saying was there was nothing in our history together that dictated He is ever going to fail me. Nothing that set a precedent that would indicate He is not going to keep His word. Yet I often find myself in a tizzy of sorts, ceasing to be still and in doing so, not knowing that He is God; failing to acknowledge that He is in control.
Maggie had yet to understand that her days of worrying over food or lack of were over. She had yet to understand that she actually liked oatmeal and it was good for her. That as her Mama, I loved her and would consistently provide for her what she needed. By persistently putting into practice what I knew was true, I eventually convinced her once and for all.
I know because she no longer asks for cookies for breakfast, she asks for oatmeal and even makes it herself.