Why are you so quiet? You are so calm. I have heard these and similar questions and statements all of my life. Why am I so calm? What is calm? People think of calmness as inactivity. A lake is calm if there aren’t that many waves and the surface is relatively still. A person is calm when he or she appears to be relaxed, unmoved, or at peace. This goes to show the superficial nature and lack of wisdom of people in general. What you see on the outside is not always an indication of what is happening inside.
I would like to take this opportunity to discuss this concept of calmness from the perspective of emotional reactions. A person that responds to something emotional is usually not perceived as calm because emotional reactions tend to be rather violent or intense. A person that does not react according to their emotions is considered calm or in some cased apathetic. Again, this is not true in all cases and undermines the aspect of calmness in a person’s life.
What does the word calm mean and does it depict what we have previously said? The word “calm” means free from agitation, excitement, or disturbance. To be calm means that you are still or in some cases at peace. Let’s distinguish a state of calmness and a state of agitation (non-calm). Something happens suddenly and you are alarmed, afraid, worried, and concerned. You react suddenly to what agitates you not knowing what you should or shouldn’t do. You are not calm but merely responding to the stimuli around you. Usually this means that you are reacting emotionally. On the other hand, a calm person will feel the same emotions, have the same worries and concerns, experience the same fear and alarm and may initially respond emotionally. However, a calm person, either by nature or training, will begin to take over his processes and use his or her thinking power to effectively respond to the situation as best he or she can. On the outside this person looks calm when in fact the same things are happening on the inside as the non-calm person. The calm person takes control of his actions and begins to analyze what is happening and then take necessary actions based on the acquired information.
How do you respond to situations around you? Do you react emotionally or do you react mentally (for lack of a better term)? I would like to share with you a scripture that has made a world of difference to me. Furthermore, this scripture is probably the reason that I remain so calm.
Philippians 4:6 through Philippians 4:7 (NKJV) 6Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Don’t worry. Tell God about it and he will guard your heart and your mind. I don’t have to worry because God will take care of me. Another very important scripture to me is,
Matthew 6:34 (NKJV) 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
You would have to read Matthew 6:19-34 to really understand this particular verse. I don’t have to worry because I trust God and he is with me.
Proverbs 3:21 through Proverbs 3:26 (NCV) 21My child, hold on to wisdom and good sense. Don’t let them out of your sight. 22They will give you life and beauty like a necklace around your neck. 23Then you will go your way in safety, and you will not get hurt. 24When you lie down, you won’t be afraid; when you lie down, you will sleep in peace. 25You won’t be afraid of sudden trouble; you won’t fear the ruin that comes to the wicked, 26because the LORD will keep you safe. He will keep you from being trapped.
God will keep me so why should I worry. All I have to do is remain in a state of “sanity” so that I can follow God’s direction and use the reasoning power that He has given me (and all people) and the wisdom that he has given me, which I asked for. God will keep me safe if I keep the wisdom of God before me.
My philosophy is this. God is with me so I don’t have to fear or worry. Therefore, when trouble comes I will not worry and I will not let my emotions get the best of me. I will take control of my mind and myself and I will act by reason according to the situation at hand. I will not care!
Now don’t be fooled. It takes a lot of mental and emotional energy to implement this philosophy. The calmness that people see in me is the result of a lot of hard and tiring work and sometimes it is emotionally challenging. The challenge comes not from the situation itself, rather from dealing with the perceptions and accusations of others. Let me first give you an example.
Mark 4:38 through Mark 4:40 (NKJV) 38But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” 39Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. 40But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?”
They reckoned Jesus’ calmness, the fact that he slept through such a great event, as not caring. Sometimes I am perceived as not caring or non-responsive because I refuse to react emotionally like most others around me. I do care but I have no cares (worries) so I usually say something like, “I don’t care.” That statement means that it doesn’t concern me or I will not worry about it.
Here is another personal example. On Saturday March 4, 2000 Carla and I took our son, Nate, to the hospital. There were a number of things that led up to this. First, I was home alone with Nate while Carla took a break from baby-sitting to go hang out and do some shopping. First Nate did not feed very much the first time I fed him. I also noticed that he wasn’t very active at all. I observed him and then his Apnea monitor started sounding. I noticed that he appeared to have trouble breathing and that he was indeed having episodes of apnea. I changed his diaper and he didn’t fight, which was very odd. I prayed for Nate and laid hands on him. I specifically decided not to respond with anger and that I would trust God to help me in this situation. I decided that I would not react emotionally but with wisdom. I prayed that God would heal Nate and that we would use wisdom in dealing with this situation because I knew something was wrong. I called my mother and she advised me to get him to the hospital. I called the pediatrician and she made arrangements for me to take Nate to the emergency room. Finally my wife came home and shortly after that we were off to the doctor.
I remained calm throughout this whole ordeal. A doctor in the emergency room commented on our calmness, which wasn’t the first time. I thought to myself that she had no idea how much energy it took to get myself into a state where I would not allow worry, fear, and anxiety to dictate my actions. I simply took care of business. Yes I did have some frightening thoughts but I took hold of those and extinguished them. I needed to remain calm so that I would be able to effectively look after our son. That calmness came at a cost of a large amount of emotional and mental energy. It takes a lot of work to implement a decision to not worry and to trust God.
Carla and I selected our doctors for moments just like this. We believed that God directed us to these doctors and to our hospital so why in the world should I allow myself to worry! God was with us all along. The only thing that I needed to do was to take care of business. Do you see? I had to respond in the most effective and efficient manner so that our son would get the care that he needed. I analyzed the situation all afternoon and was able to give the medical staff great details of what transpired that day.
I was concerned for my wife because she tends to respond emotionally to things and/or not really seeing the big picture. I was afraid that if things got bad that she would become unglued. I had to stay strong for her and I hoped that I wouldn’t get to a point where I needed someone to be strong for me. I hoped that I wouldn’t reach my limit. My wife maintained calmness throughout this whole ordeal, which was good because I didn’t need to expend more energy dealing with her. That brings up another very important point that I would like to discuss.
Many times we have to expend more energy then necessary because of the auxiliary things that we have to deal with. Imagine being stranded someplace and you are trying to keep your cool. In the mean time, you have to deal with very worried and emotional people that are with you. You have to constantly expend a lot of energy to keep them from causing even greater problems and from hurting themselves and those around them.
It would have been much harder for me to remain calm if I had problems with the medical staff, my wife, or anything else that may have interfered with me taking care of business for my son’s well-being. It is therefore important to keep a bird’s eye view of the situation so that you can govern yourself based on all of the things involved with that situation. You may have to do something drastic in order to maintain your peace of mind or you may eventually reach your limit and crack.
The Power of Implementation
The power of the calmness that I try so hard to implement is found in the implementation or practice of that calmness. The practice of this calmness is found in the realization of God’s care for me and my family. This realization is more then general knowledge. It is the practice of trusting God in real situations and taking the necessary actions to demonstrate that trust. Now in the incident with my son that I described above, I decided to trust God. I prayed and I made the decision to trust God to take care of my son and to give me the wisdom to do what needed to be done.
So calmness, as I have defined it, requires real trust in God that is based on knowledge, wisdom, and experience. We must practice faith in order to get this experience and be able to use it in he future. Faith in God is learned and not acquired by magic or mental ascent. The power is the practice of God’s word. The power is in the obedience. In this case I practiced what the Bible said, namely don’t worry and trust God. I did it in the past and God never let me down so why should I worry now.
So what will you do? Are you going to get knowledge from God’s word to govern your life? Or will you worry about everything that comes your way? If you trust God and know that you can trust him then you will have all of the reason in the world not to worry and to remain calm. Regardless of what other say, you can remain calm because you have no reason to be agitated. Others will want you to become emotional and unglued as they would but you remain calm and do what God directs you to do in all situations.
Romans 8:28 (NKJV) 28And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
The alternative to the emotional reaction
2000 William R. Cunningham
March 7, 2000