The Energy Required to Be Still

I’m currently in the midst of a messy middle in my life. Here’s what I mean by that: I’m not at the beginning of a hard situation, but I am not at the end either. You know that feeling of wanting to be “through” something, of wanting to just know how it’s all going to reconcile, how it’s all going to look on the other side?

And what I’ve been reflecting on lately is that sometimes being right where we are is the hardest work. Sometimes it takes more energy to *be still* than to spring into frantic action. Being “present” is all the rage, a buzz word even, but we don’t always acknowledge the spiritual, emotional, mental, physical discipline required to stay present, especially when the present is uncertain or unresolved. For me currently, being right where I am, today, this week, is the invitation, instead of trying to figure a way out.

But, let me be clear, I don’t like this. I don’t like it one bit. Because it takes so much energy to stop, surrender, let go. More than expected, even.

Whatever “middle” you’re in today, I understand the urgent temptation to want to push through the process, grasp for control and certainty, and resist the invitation (maybe even the mandate) to be still. It doesn’t matter if the messy middle is financial or relational or professional or physical, the interminable-ness is exhausting and makes us edgy.

So here’s what’s helping me:

— Taking life in 12 hour increments.

— Welcoming all the crazy feelings. I cannot say enough about this. Instead of driving away all my frantic thoughts and insane solutions, instead of judging myself for being so out of control and adolescent, I make a point to welcome it all. That doesn’t mean I act on any of it. I just acknowledge all the ways that I want to jump forward, which seems to relieve some of the pressure.

— Resisting the urge to make anything urgent. So much of what I think must be decided and figured out, doesn’t. It needs to unfold.

— Remembering to be good to myself, like I would a friend. Understanding. Empathetic. Patient.

— Beginning again. If I get too far ahead of myself, I recommit to the present. This moment. Now. Over and over again. This is what it means to give myself grace.

Here’s another bit of gold: Your issues are not your identity. THANK GOD. Something runs deeper in us than any circumstance. So WHERE you are right now, WHERE I am right now, is not WHO we are. Isn’t that everything. Our messy middles don’t define us. And maybe if we can remember that truth, we can hang in a bit longer, commit to being still for another three seconds. And then another. And then another.

I lit a candle this morning, a reminder to myself to be still long enough to let God sit by me. Right here in my messy middle.

Love you all,




If you need a kind companion to walk with you while you are in the midst of a messy middle, check out Breathing Room, a book about letting go even when we are overwhelmed. For some insane reason, it’s only $6.99 on Amazon right now. So, Id’ say that’s a sign. ;)


9 Responses to “The Energy Required to Be Still”

  1. Jenna

    Thank you so much for writing this. This is exactly where I am – the messy middle – and so uncertain how to just BE in it. I can relate to just wanting out and through it already!! Thanks for showing up for others in your messy middle.

  2. Krista L

    It is crazy to me how much I relate to your feelings and experiences. In reading Breathing Room, Brazen and this, it is as if you know me personally. As if you know what I am struggling with, and you know how to reach me and give me the strength I need at the perfect time. Thank you for making yourself so vulnerable and continuing to share your story with us.

    • Michelle Lisenbee

      What Krista said. :)
      In a messy middle myself – oldest child becoming an adult, going to college, working, learning to budget, etc. Youngest child doing his best to get through middle school. Mom with Alzheimer’s, dad doing his best to care for her. Hard on me and my three siblings – lots of messiness and lots of love. Being still, letting things unfold is very hard. Thank you for this. I adore your books. <3

      • Leeana

        Wow, Michelle. This is SO much. I love what you wrote: “lots of messiness and lots of love.” Isn’t that life. But it can be hard to hold space for all of it. Thank you for reading and for encouraging me!

    • Leeana

      You’re so welcome, Krista. The means so much to me. I love that God enlivens our words and our stories to help others know they’re not alone. Your words are a gift to me!

  3. susan

    i am soooo glad to see you are back! i have been missing your posts! i have read all of your books and they are soooo real and helpful and i thank you so much.


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