Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Slow Down, You Move Too Fast

Over the summer, I decided to do an experiment. I don't remember exactly why, but I decided I was going to drive at or below the speed limit. This may be unexceptional to many of you, but my practice before this was to always drive 3 or 4 mph over the speed limit (or more on the highway) - I considered that to be "safe" from getting pulled over. However, I think my conscience just started to bother me. I mean, whenever I'd see a policeman clocking, I'd have to slam on my brakes to try to slow down to the speed limit. And I always knew that if I got pulled over, I deserved the ticket because I was, in fact, breaking the law. So that's probably why I started the experiment. Now I don't worry at all whenever I see a cop - I just continue on my merry way! I was surprised at how easy it was to stay within the speed limit. Once I got used to it, now I actually find myself tending to go below the speed limit if I'm not paying attention rather than above it. The drivers behind me aren't always so happy at this, but I'm good with that. (Note: This isn't intended to be any kind of judgment or statement about the driving habits of my readers. You do whatever works for you. I'm just sharing what works for me. Please keep reading!)

The reason I'm good with that is because of the unexpected side effect this has had in my life... I find that I am generally a lot more relaxed than I was before. I don't have to worry about rushing around and trying to get everywhere at the fastest possible rate of speed. I plan to leave early enough to get wherever I'm going on time, but if that doesn't happen, I prefer to go the speed limit and just be a few minutes late. Nothing in my schedule is going to be a disaster if I'm not there at the stroke of the clock. And I'm really just enjoying time in the car more, I enjoy listening to the radio more, I'm just chilling out and enjoying the ride. Kind of the "taking time to stop and smell the roses" concept.

But I think this also speaks to the concept of enjoying the journey instead of focusing solely on the destination, and this is a theme in my life and spiritual life too these days. I want to slow down and enjoy the Terrible Two's instead of focusing only on the day Elias turns three (or goes to school or starts to drive or becomes a responsible adult...). And this is definitely a concept God has been working on in my spiritual life, too. I get so frustrated and discouraged whenever I have any kind of stumble or setback. I tell myself "You should know better by now!" But what God is telling me about this, first of all, is that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1). So any voices that are condemning me for failure are NOT from Him. But secondly, He never intended for our spiritual lives to be only about the destination, but to be a journey from birth to death. None of us will achieve perfection in this life, but we are all on a journey toward holiness that will end at Heaven. Have I moved forward in my spiritual walk? Am I more like Christ than I was 5 years ago? If so, then I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be, regardless of whether or not I still struggle and sin. We all do, and that's ok.

I've been feeling, though, like there's an even further spiritual application here, and I've been struggling to put my finger on it until I read this morning's (October 19) devotion in My Utmost for His Highest. I've selected the parts that were most meaningful to me to post here. Read the entire devotion here.
In our Lord's life, there was none of the pressure and the rushing of tremendous activity that we regard so highly today, and a disciple is to be like His Master. The central point of the kingdom of Jesus Christ is a personal relationship with Him, not public usefulness to others...
You have no idea of where or how God is going to engineer your future circumstances, and no knowledge of what stress or strain is going to be placed on you... And if you waste your time in over-activity, instead of being immersed in the great fundamental truths of God's redemption, then you will snap when the stress and strain do come. But if this time of soaking before God is being spent in getting rooted and grounded in Him, which may appear to be impractical, then you will remain true to Him whatever happens.
This also reminds me of the story of Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42). Jesus came to visit at Mary and Martha's house. While Martha bustled around trying to get everything just right to serve Jesus, Mary just sat at His feet. Martha got upset and asked Jesus to tell Mary to get up and help her, but Jesus said Mary made the better choice of how to spend her time. That's an old story in my world, but always one that gives me a reality check. Would Jesus tell me that I'm anxious and worked up over too many things, and I need to think about whether my priorities line up with His?

This is an exceptionally good lesson for me as a stay-at-home mom. As I'm getting perspective on it, I've come to realize that a lot of my depression that began after Elias was born was rooted in how dramatically my sphere changed. I went from being a world traveler, employed full-time, and free to come and go as I pleased, to being stuck at home most of the time making a paycheck of $0, with a total of two people in my daily sphere of influence. Culture shock! And I just felt unimportant, useless. I was unable to serve in the many ways I did before becoming a mom, and that left me questioning where my value came from. As I explore that question, God's answer is clear: my value comes because I am His. Period. And instead of seeing my time staying home with Elias as limiting me, I need to see it for what it is. It is a gift straight from God, a season where all that is required of me spiritually is to sit at Jesus' feet. Sure, I do a lot - I am in no way trying to minimize the contribution of a stay-at-home mom to the life and well-being of her family! I get that. But when it comes to ministry, serving at church, etc., that just doesn't fit into my lifestyle much right now. And what God is telling me is that's ok. The thing that is most important is to sit at His feet, to be rooted and grounded in Him, to relax and enjoy the journey that will ultimately take me into His presence.


Andrew's Mommy said...

Thanks, Joni. A lesson for us all. love you.

Charity said...

I really like this, Joni... I feel like I need to read and re-read it. Lots of thoughts swooshing around in my head, but wanted to say thanks for this open, honest, uplifting (and challenging!) post. =) love ya.