And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9 NLT

Be still. That’s easier said than done, isn’t it? Sometimes I wish I could flip on a little “be still” switch to pacify myself, especially when I have days like today. Right now I’m struggling to gain control of my churning insides.

I’m currently dealing with several major life stressors — undergoing treatment for an aggressive breast cancer, caregiving for my husband who has a rare and progressive muscle disease, carrying a huge burden of financial responsibilities, handling concerns about my youngest son’s circumstances, and facing a looming book deadline. Add to that, in the last couple of days, both vehicles stopped working, my faithful recliner broke, and wasps are entering the house through the bathroom vent.

Then this morning, after putting in many hours on a special project for a person I greatly respect, I received a harsh email rather than a thank-you for my hard work. Reading that email, while being physically and mentally exhausted, pushed me into a not-so-good place. I turned into an emotional mess. Although the person apologized a few hours after sending it, my memory naturally wants to replay the narrative again and again, which agitates my spirit more and more.

And here I am with the task of telling people how to be still. Seriously?

I’ve learned over the years that God likes to give me plenty of opportunities to become well-versed in my topic. And this is one of those times. So after much consideration, I decided I need to change topics. I want to be well-versed in something else! (Perhaps I’ll change it to “How to be happy with a million dollars while living in the Caribbean and looking great in a bikini.”)

For now, I’m reverting to self-talk mode. “Breathe in. Breathe out. Calm down, Twila. It’s time to remind yourself of the sermons you so readily give to others.” In other words, I’m giving myself a pep talk to practice what I preach.

And one of the important truths I like to remind people of is this: whatever we focus on becomes magnified.

If I keep my attention on my problems and heartaches (or hurtful words), they become overwhelming to me and tend to control my life. But if I fix my thoughts on God, he becomes magnified in my heart and mind, and I’m reminded of who he is and what he’s able to do. My attitude changes, and my unsettled spirit quiets down. It takes resolve, but it’s so worthwhile.

Philippians 4:8-9 encourages us to think about whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy. If we put that kind of thinking into practice, peace will be ours.

Lord, when the pressures of life become too much for me, and my circumstances are the foremost thing on my mind, I become stressed and overwhelmed. Would you help me to fix my thoughts on you? I want you to be magnified, not the stuff I’m going through. You are excellent and worthy of praise. You are able to calm my agitated spirit. You are the giver of peace. Thank you for being with me.

Power Statement: I have the power to be still. Rather than dwelling on my circumstances and letting them overwhelm me, I will fix my thoughts on God.

Reflection and Response: Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” (NLT). What have your thoughts been fixed on lately? What current issues are keeping you from being still?

This devotion is an excerpt from The Power to Be, © 2018 Twila Belk. Used by permission of BroadStreet Publishing.