When You Need to Stay Where You Resist Being

“The wall we are pounding upon, tempted to walk away from, or passively disappearing at, is actually a well where Jesus is inviting us to sit with Him, drink life-giving water, and stay. Yes, stay.
– Anjuli Paschall

Easier NOT to Stay

Sometimes it’s easier to run away than stay. Or easier to just distract ourselves. Or even easier to just fight back.

And sometimes each of those is the correct response.

But other times, we need to just stay. And sit. And experience.

This has been one of those times.

[SIDE NOTE: Ironically, I finished reading Paschall’s book Stay before I’d ever heard of COVID-19. Also pre-quarantine, I read Do Nothing and The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry. And The Grumble-Free Year. Um, God? He did lead me to choose “Linger” as my One Word for 2020. But sheltering-in-place didn’t cross my mind.]

Stay Where You Resist

I’m challenged by this statement in the book Stay by Anjuli Paschall:

“Stay where you most resist being.”

Paschall isn’t talking about literal, dangerous situations. If you’re being threatened, don’t stay. Take appropriate action; get away.

She also wasn’t writing about physically staying in our homes, because who knew that was coming? (But now? It applies.) 

Instead, she was writing about staying with God in our pain instead of running away.

In this time of a global pandemic, we may feel a general sense of anxiety. But rather than think it through or feel it out, we’d rather do other things with our disturbing thoughts.

  • We may deny the thoughts altogether.
  • We may drown them in food or substances.
  • We may shift to distractions of probabilities or preparations or just plain ol’ worrying.

But what if, instead, we stayed with the anxiety long enough to really see it, to root out its source?

Look underneath the generalities. Are there specific anxious thoughts that need addressing? 

Linger to See Then Release

I’m trying now to take a longer pause when I feel anxious. Not to indulge it; that’s not helpful either.

But I need to stay with it long enough to understand it, inviting Holy Spirit to show me what I need to see.

And then, let it go.

Too often we try to let it go before we look at it head-on.

It’s uncomfortable to stay.

But Jesus invites us to stay. With him. Paschall says,

“We have to let the ache be exposed. We have to stay with the pain. We have to let all the nerve endings rise to the surface and let the stinging make us weak. This is where we meet God.

When we stay, He comes. We have to be real with God in order to find real help from God.”

We don’t have to be strong to stay. We just have to be willing.

Paschall also says,

“Jesus is the kind host, inviting us to linger, spill the milk, break a dish, be known, and stay, not as guests, but as daughters.

He wants to hear our laughter, comfort our ache, ask us questions, and heal our hurts. God, in love, always welcomes us to stay and dine at the table with Him. He is cultivating a home within us. This is the sacred gift of staying.”

And when others need us to sit and stay with them, we can do that, too. To listen to them. To listen for God.

Stay at the table. Eat the meal. Then leave together.

And live a more whole, healthier life as a result of the staying.

“When I stay right where I am, with all that is beautiful and bent out of shape, I find God. I find love waiting for me.

I want to stay for Love.

Are you tired of “staying”? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

My thanks to Net Galley
for the review copy of Stay

15 thoughts on “When You Need to Stay Where You Resist Being

  1. Martha J Orlando

    This gives a whole new meaning to staying in place, Lisa, and a truly positive one, too. Yes, I’ve been struggling with the whole emotional impact of this self-isolation, and have looked for distractions. But that doesn’t address the pent up frustrations. I finally allowed myself to cry about it all, and it was as if God poured cleansing water over me. Such a relief! I’ll choose to stay with Him and let Him talk to my heart.

  2. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    Sit down with it, the awful thing
    that stopped by your house one day,
    gross of visage, dun of wing,
    its odor not a rose bouquet.
    It gibbers and gesticulates,
    and looks to be past sanity;
    but get ye now some cups and plates
    for scones and Constant Comment tea.
    And you may find it settles down,
    the horrid monster at your table,
    and your care will smooth its frown,
    and it will say, when it is able,
    “Till now, no-one has taken time
    to hear the heart that might be mine.”

  3. Lynn D. Morrissey

    When I saw your post title, Lisa, before reading the essay, I thought this is a perfect motto for Corona Time! I lament that so many people are defying our government (as Christians should not do, according to Scripture), and are dangerously congregating in the streets, on the beaches, in the parks, wherever they have a mind to go! This essay goes much further than a stay-at-home directive, both in what you say and in the quotes you share. Staying put is not an issue for me. It’s pretty much par for the course, and I went through my little season of angst, indeed my grumbling, when God “told” me to come home and leave a fascinating career 27 yrs ago to raise our daughter. What I learned is contentment in doing God’s will, and surprisingly, I received far greater “riches” than what I relinquished (and as a nonprofit executive director at the USO, I was underpaid). So the riches I mention here are not about a salary, but about sacred time w/ Sheridan, and a host of other opportunities, such as writing for publication which I could never done with a sometimes 50-60 work week. I digress. I think many have trouble “staying” because they have made an idol out of busyness and excitement. They feel bored, rather than seeing this as a sacred time of blessing. I hardly pooh-pooh people who are hurting because they are desperate to pay their bills. I am addressing this to people who think they have a “right” to be out and about, who are bored, who are angry, who are frustrated, who think their right to escape supersedes the health of other citizens and the healthcare professionals . And I daresay likely many of them are Christians. They would do far better to stay, obey, and see what God wants to teach them. Thank you for this meaningful post and also for another book recommendation. My husband will clobber you! Ha! 🙂

  4. Trudy

    This is really good, Lisa. Your review and the quotes from the book. It’s amazing how you were led to choose a certain word and read certain books before this crisis came that are so relevant now. Love and blessings to you!

  5. Michele Morin

    I probably should read this book, because it reminds me of some advice I kept bumping into last year about “staying ” with the parts of Scripture that distinction me until I figure out why.

  6. Barbara Harper

    I love this: “We have to be real with God in order to find real help from God.”

    My first thought from the title was my caregiving journey. I had no choice but to stay with it, but one of my regrets is that I chafed under it instead of willingly accepting it. But God is teaching me from it even now.

  7. Calvonia Radford

    One of the scriptures that has been weighing on my spirit is “Be still and know that I am God”. Your words push the though even deeper. Instead of running away from my anxious thoughts or temporary fears, I need to sit in it and listen for God’s still small voice.

  8. Jean Wise

    wow your word is being stretched and so are you! Ironic the books you read before the pandemic. That is funny.

    the concept of ” Sometimes it’s easier to run away than stay.” so was me this week. I was done with all this, angry at everything and ready to give up but staying is where God has placed us to learn, to linger, and to be shaped. good thoughts, Lisa!

  9. BettieG

    Dear Lisa,
    These words were just what I needed to be reminded of tonight. My OneWord for this year has felt like an odd choice: “with.” But He is making it so clear that He is staying, He is WITH me, with all of us, in these places where we feel so separated. I certainly don’t feel that I am WITH those I love, but Jesus is the one who stays, and brings us together WITH Him. Thank you so much for sharing this.

  10. Maree dee

    Beautiful! I have to do a great deal of staying on my life’s journey. This statement, “We don’t have to be strong to stay. We just have to be willing” is so true. God gives us what we need. He really does. Maree

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