By Olea Gough

olea author pic

Just be still.


I remember sitting in a sacrament meeting in December some years ago feeling completely overwhelmed by all the things left on my to do list before Christmas. We were singing the song “Silent Night” as a congregation and as we sang the phrase “dawn of redeeming grace” it’s like my whole world went still. Tears began streaming down my face as suddenly, as if for the first time, I understood what Christmas was all about. Yes, it’s a celebration of the birth of baby Jesus. But even more than that, it’s about what He would become, what He was willing to do for each of us.

That night was the dawn, the beginning, of our salvation. Finally, the only being who had the grace, the power, to save us had arrived. His birth was the beginning of the reality of His grace redeeming us from all our failings.


I will probably not ever look at Christmas in the same way again. Now when I look at the manger, I also see the cross. I see Christ’s desire to rescue me. A desire strong enough that He was willing to suffer for my sins and ultimately lay down His life for me.


I used to feel so sad when I would think about the baby Jesus, who deserved so much more, coming to earth under the circumstances He was born in, in a stable because there was no room for His parents in the inn. As if, somehow, God had overlooked that detail and not arranged the situation perfectly. But as I have pondered on His birth, I think maybe God got it just right. Would an overcrowded, noisy inn, have been a better environment for His birth than a quiet stable set apart from the chaos? There is something about that setting that feels peaceful and sacred when I make the comparison in my mind. And it feels right.


Our Savior chose those circumstances and that setting. It was intentional. He came to earth in the humblest way possible. And maybe, just maybe, it was so that not one solitary person on this earth would feel that He could not understand them, that He was too high in status and privilege to feel for their hardships or struggle. The humble circumstances of His life make Him so relatable and I am so grateful for that!

This time of year, as I focus on the birth of my Savior and remember all that He has done for me, I yearn to offer Him a gift. But what do you give to Him who has given you everything you have? Neal A. Maxwell once said,

“The submission of one’s will is really the only uniquely personal thing we have to place on God’s altar. The many other things we ‘give’ are actually the things He has already given or loaned to us.”

Elder Neal A. Maxwell

So, I start to evaluate my own circumstances. I think about my life, areas I am doing well in and areas that could use some improvement. I think about a submission or change in my character I could offer as a gift. Then I try to put a word to it. Something that will help me stay focused for the next year. In the past I have used words like mindful, listen, meekness, prayerful, partner, and consistent. This year as I have been pondering on a word, I thought about committed, consecrated, or accountable, but as He has in years gone by, the Spirit brought a different word to my mind… stillness.


The Lord knows better than anyone that stillness is something I am lacking in my life, and maybe not one I have ever thought I needed to change. I like to be busy. I always say, “Busy is better than bored.” I like having a list of things to be done and I like the feeling of accomplishment. But maybe He knows something I don’t know about the effect this busyness is having on my soul, because when I think about stillness since He whispered it to me, I can’t help but feel an overwhelming blanket of love and then I tear up (because that is what I do when I feel a confirmation of the Spirit).

I have spent the last couple of weeks thinking about what this stillness might look like in my life. Maybe it would involve a practice of meditation. Maybe walking away from my phone more often. Perhaps it will include more time in prayer and in other sacred spaces. It could include more journaling to clear the clutter in my mind. I think it will probably include more sleep. It’s possible that it will include a limit to the number of items allowed on my to-do list. I bet it will include more gratitude. I’m not sure, but I’m working on figuring out what the Lord wants from me in this stillness He has asked for.

The funny thing is, that every time I settle on a gift to give the Lord, at the end of the year when I look back, I see what incredible dividends it has brought to my own life. It happens every single time.


I wonder if you could benefit from some stillness in your life too. I wonder if you ponder on it, what ideas the Lord will help you come up with for implementing stillness. Or maybe that isn’t the gift He wants from you at all. Maybe He has a different one in mind for you altogether. I can promise that if you take some time to pray and ponder on this idea, your life will be tremendously blessed in this next year. God is just kind of generous that way.

The Primary Manual for Come Follow Me is perfect for families with young children!

December week 4: December 19–25. Christmas: “We Have Waited for Him, and He Will Save Us” (

Click DOWNLOAD below to get these FREE coloring pages from Rising Moon Adventures that I created to go with this lesson:

Primary Insights for Come Follow Me videos –

(46) Rising Moon Adventures Scripture Story Time – YouTube

Song 1: When Hope Came Down by Kari Jobe

Song 2: The Hope of Christmas by Matthew West

Gratitude Reminder: Christmas Presents


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.