Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10).
That’s the catch phrase on the radio station I was listening to at 5:47 a.m. a couple weeks ago as I sat and drove (thankfully, to the health club). In the radio report, “sitting is the new smoking” was tied to “Surgeon General” and the general condemnation of our increasingly sedentary society. Prior to that, one of my colleagues, who has a relative suffering from dementia, told me that standing is better for your brain health, too. In her office, she has added a podium of sorts, where she places her laptop and does some work while standing.
I might as well start smoking.
Though I stand when I teach, I spend most of my work day on my rear end, planning, grading papers, filtering email, and typing, typing, typing. Then I come home, do a little housework and cooking on my feet, and then resume the sitting position. I am doing so now. After all, I must blog. Later, I will attend a basketball game, also sitting, and then I will come home and go to sleep. (I can only hope that sleeping is not the next smoking, or I will be dead in a week.)
So this afternoon, when we had our weekly chapel service at school, and I found myself without a chair, I immediately found a wall to lean into as I stood and listened.
“Ah,” I thought, as I cozied up to the wall. “Sitting is the new smoking, and here I am standing.”
Er. Actually. Leaning.
So I tried to stand without leaning. I can stand and teach. I can do step aerobics. I can do aqua Zumba. I can walk, attempt a run, pace a room, pull weeds, walk a wheelbarrow, and move liberally while completing housework. But standing, just standing, without leaning is quite the task.
I remember taking ballet classes while in college and our professor teaching us to “stand on one leg.” That felt like an accomplishment. Now standing on two feels equally as challenging. (Age. Ugh.)
But I stood without leaning — on two legs — while seven students got up and read stories about the character trait “initiative.” According to the Character First curriculum we use at school, initiative is “recognizing and doing what needs to be done before I’m asked.” Some aspect of initiative was wrapped into each real-life story. Numerous times I felt on the verge of tears. Twice I actually cried but tried to appear as if I weren’t. As each student shared a story — not their own, but oh, so, touching — I felt God speaking to my heart.
A heart (and brain) likely much healthier because I was standing, not sitting or leaning.
A heart wanting to take the initiative and be effective for God. A heart and brain willing to stand, literally, for good health so I have more time to take that initiative.
As a teacher I often tell students to “sit still” (as it is so much nicer than “sit down and shut up”). However, it may be better to tell them to “stand still”; it takes more effort and is better for their heart and brain health.
While “sitting is the new smoking,” “standing is like walking,” according to JustStand.org. “It increases energy, burns extra calories, tones muscles, improves posture, increases blood flow and ramps up metabolism.”
I figure I can accomplish physical and spiritual health by doing more standing. Instead of sitting still, I will stand “still and know that [God is] God,” my new version of that powerful Psalm (46:10).