Practicing the Pause

by | Oct 11, 2015 | 31 Letters from London

This is day 12 in a new series: 31 Letters from London. In October, I’m doing something a little different and writing to you about the realities of life as an expat; finding the nearness of God through random experiences with new culture. It’s important to begin here and find the collection of letters here. We’re breaking for Sabbath every Sunday.

As I focus on writing chapters of my book in the Cotswolds this week, today I’m sharing a Daily Thought originally broadcast on Premier Christian Radio. You can listen to it here. Scroll to minute 30:57 to hear me.


A few weeks ago H and I were seeking out a new French bakery in London, walking behind a mother and two little girls wearing pony tails and long dresses, when all of the sudden, she gave the girls permission to play the running game. And just like that, they both took off running serpentine through crowds of people, the distance between  them growing wider with each step.

I became anxious, waiting for the mother to yell out, “Stop, your getting too far away, or “Come back.”  But she didn’t.

Those little people were trained to pause.

At each break in the pavement for cars to pass, boisterous play halted as they craned their small necks, looking both ways and then continuing to run when all was clear and safe. Each pause was intuitive.

Selah. It’s a curious word mentioned 74 times in the Bible yet scholars aren’t unified about the definition.  Most agree that Selah means “pause and think about that.”

Have you trained yourself to pause?

Do you pay attention to your heart warning you it is time to slow down?

Or do you need for someone to tell you to stop because you’re too busy to notice the warning signals?

The mother with those little girls was calm, cool and collected, smiling as she walked carrying grocery bags. And they turned a corner, out of plain sight just like that. And I became anxious.

But that mother, she didn’t flinch. Because just around that corner we saw their final destination.


They knew where they were going because they practiced retracing their steps. The pauses were familiar and natural in the midst of playing together.

And like that confident mother walking with her children, God wants you to practice Selah too.

Pause and think about what He is saying to you, so you don’t find yourself in the path of danger or lost without purpose.  Pauses help us remember where we are going when life becomes crowded with busyness.



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  1. Devi Duerrmeier

    I love the story of the pausing little girls, what a great illustration. The times when I’ve been able to pause intuitively are the seasons when I have disciplined myself with breaks – to write down what I’m thankful for, to pray, to meet with friends. I think this is still so difficult for me to figure out after having kids, although my instinct tells me it should be easier. Pauses are more naturally built into our rhythm now because kids demand pauses (for food, for sleep, etc.). I think it’s just getting my head into space that is ready to pause that is the hard part for me.

    • Shelly Miller

      I think pausing is a learned behaviour for most people Devi, you’re in good company. You know, those girls illustrated my first radio spot about five seconds after H told me I should talk on the Selah theme. I was struggling with what to talk about and right there, on our walk, God revealed the theme through those little girls. God is good and when we pause long enough to notice, life is sublime!

  2. Natalie

    Love this, Shelly. It’s timely for me–I’m discovering that I need to pause not just to rest, not just to think about the big questions of life, but to think a little longer before I proceed.

    • Shelly Miller

      Me too Natalie, me too. Especially before I talk to my kids.

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