Several months ago, a friend challenged me to find a word that would be both a mantra and a truth to speak over this season in my life. I prayed, looked, read, and tried not to come up with the word myself. I sensed that there was purpose ahead, and I wanted to be wholly ready, and I felt that whatever the word was, it was going to be part of that.
September arrived, and I woke up with the word on my lips: Selah. If you’re familiar with the Psalms, you’ll see the word throughout, often given as an instruction to the person leading music – an instruction to stop and listen. That’s the key – stop and listen. In the midst of the madness, hit the pause button and employ all the senses.
Stop and listen.
Stop and look.
Stop and smell.
Stop and feel.
Stop and taste.
Stop and be.
I don’t believe in coincidence, and I find it telling that the word finally arrived hand-in-hand with September. Even though I live in an area that is still sweltering in 90-degree weather, I always envision September to be the gateway to Autumn – sweaters, boots, hot drinks (PSL anyone?), cooler days, trees exploding in a kaleidoscope of reds, oranges, and gold, and the smell of fires being lit in fireplaces. Everything about fall invites you to slow down a bit, cozy up, and immerse yourself in all that is around you. Autumn practically calls you to Selah.
So what do I do with this? It has been more than the obvious, although I have deeply loved stopping and listening to birds, my daughter’s laughter, harmonies, and wind chimes. I have also been listening to my own body – resting and resetting when necessary, going for a run when I’m craving an endorphin push, and eating when my stomach tells me it’s hungry. On top of that, I’ve been conscious about listening to others. Before letting my impatience with my daughter cause a short response, I take a breath and listen to what her little heart is trying to tell me. I’m in a position at work to make decisions that carry serious weight; but people are impacted by these, and each of those people has a story and a life and a career. Each of those people matter, and as I have been tempted to make quick decisions based on my gut and a lack of time, I have heard this gentle whisper to Selah…stop and listen.
And I am a better person for it.
Not better than anyone else. Never better than anyone else. But I am growing each time I choose to stop and listen instead of rushing headlong into all the things – the choices, the responses, the moments that I won’t be able to get back or take back. And as I get better, the people in my sphere of influence are hopefully helped…or at least not hurt.
Selah. As Summer transitions into the brilliance of Autumn, it beckons us to stop and to listen, to feel, to see, to smell, to taste, and to simply, utterly be.