Settling the Unsettled

Have you ever had that weird unsettled feeling that is abnormally intense and persistent? It’s an inner rattling of unpleasantness that seems to descend upon us without warning. You may know exactly why this elusive feeling is camping out in your heart.  You may have no idea whatsoever.  I like to call the unsettled feeling the first cousin of our friend, anxiety.  They are related, yet very different.

Anxiety frets over what is to come, or not to come, in the future.

Unsettledness frets over what you can’t identify or can’t shake, right now, in the present.

You give yourself the talk. The talk that tells you that whatever is so unsettling can’t be that bad, or can be eliminated from your insides with a little clarifying or distraction. The talk usually doesn’t work.  The rattling against your insides goes on and on.  It’s not a good feeling.

So, we ask the obvious question.  Why can’t we shake this seemingly irrational feeling?  Are we in tune with some paranormal wavelength that is speaking looming disaster into the air?  Are we ignoring some deeply suppressed fear or maybe an obvious warning signal?  Are we just messed up? So messed up that we are disproportionately upset and rattled over what seems to be normal life stuff?


I don’t like anxiety, but I kind of know what to do with it. I can remind myself that I can’t control the future.  That worrying won’t change anything.  That God can’t comfort me in a future that hasn’t happened yet. He can only comfort me in a present where things are unfolding in real time.

I don’t like that unsettled feeling, and I also don’t know what to do with it. There is no mental file cabinet I can lock it in. There is no self pep talk that puts me at ease. There is no way to process it with a trusted confidant because a lot of the time, it doesn’t even make sense. All that remains is me and that clanging gong, ringing with agitation across the walls of my heart and mind.

It is that space where feelings and communication don’t line up. There is no describing, quantifying, or qualifying it. It just is.

It is that space where we are forced to face the scary reality, yet again, that there are elements very out of our control. Not just externally, but even more frighteningly, internally.

We quickly figure out that we won’t find answers to the questions we are asking. So maybe we have to change the questions. Instead of asking – why can’t we shake this? Maybe we should be asking – how can God meet us in this rattled and unsettled place?

There is a scripture passage that I love.

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.” Romans 8:26-27

What do we do when we don’t know the answers to our questions? When we don’t know how or what to pray for? When there are no words for wordless things? When our spirits are rattled and our insides are weak?

We look to the One who already knows where we are at.

Who knows there are no words and simply wordless groans.

Who doesn’t passively wait for us to show up, but who is searching our hearts and minds – even in this very moment.

And we start asking the right question to the One who wants to answer it.

Will you, O Lord, intercede?


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