Learning to Be with Me

Chris Hughes

My older sister Sylvia and I had different styles of studying. She was neat and organized, and she needed peace and quiet so she could concentrate. Sylvia hated to be distracted . . . especially by me.

Listening to loud music FTR TSP 109215757One afternoon, Sylvia was studying in her room; and I was studying—in my own way—in my room. I had the stereo going full blast while I lay on the bottom bunk, playing along with the music by drumming on the slats on my brother’s bed above me. My biology book was lying open across my face, which made it a little hard to sing. (We were studying osmosis, so I figured I’d let the information just seep into my brain.)

I guess Sylvia got a little distracted by my “studying.” She burst into my room, hand on hip and finger pointed in my direction, “Do you know why you can’t be still?” she shouted. I pulled the book off my head and spun around to hit her with a pillow. But she had a look on her face that I’d only seen a few times. It said, “This is serious. I love you. Cool it.”

So I put down the pillow, turned down the music, and said, “No, why can’t I be still?” She said, “You can’t be still because when you’re still, you think about things you don’t want to think about. You worry about Mom and Dad finding out some of the things I know you’ve done. You wonder if Mom will get divorced again. You worry about what your friends think of you, and you’re afraid that the girl you want to go out with won’t go. You worry that you won’t be able to get around every teacher by being cute and entertaining.”

And then she said, “You don’t like to be with you very much.”

drumming 2 TSP 118994207“Excuse me?”

“You don’t like to be with you very much. That’s why you can’t be still. If you don’t like to be with you, how do you expect me to like it?”

And she left.

What she had said was so true and so deep that I did what I usually did. I turned up the stereo full blast and beat the slats under my brother’s bed until the drumsticks broke and tears ran down my face.

Two passages from the Bible came together for me the summer after Sylvia’s visit to my noisy room. In Psalm 46:10 God invited me to “Be still, and know that I am God.” And I was assured by 1 John 4:18 that God’s “perfect love drives out fear.” My pastor and my youth group helped me experience stillness as a gift rather than as a punishment, something to seek rather than something to avoid.

I learned to “be with me” without feeling alone or afraid because the one who knows me best and loves me most is always with me. I figured if God could stand to be with me, I could learn to like it.


devozine Cloud heart Ftr TSP 101334025DIG DEEPER

Read and reflect on 1 John 4:16–19.

What does the phrase “perfect love drives out fear” mean for your life right now?


Chris Hughes speaks, writes, and sings about youth issues.

—from devozine (July/August 1996). Copyright © 1996 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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