How long have I been trying to earn the approval of others? Only the first 45 years of my life! – Sammy Davis, Jr.
I was out walking early before any of the other cabins were stirring. The dew was still on the meadow. I heard birds calling and the wind rustling the leaves on the trees. The air was cool, but not crisp. And my boots were covered in dew and grass clippings. I saw the morning sun breaking through the trees and skimming across the field. The rain was still dripping from the tips of the maple leaves left over from the previous night’s shower.
Inside the chapel, it was warm and dry. It is tempting to try and force an encounter with God. We want to meet with Him in these moments, but we intuitively know special encounters happen organically. God is not “organic”. He is divine. But we are organic. God reached down and formed humankind from the dust of the earth. And then He breathed his divine breath into us. I think we miss opportunities to hear from God because we have neglected to spend time in creation. And we have neglected to use our God-given creativity.
I am, by nature, a slow person. Not that kind of slow. I’m a restrained introvert. I was slow to roll over as an infant. Slow to walk and slow to talk. And I have never been a morning person! It took me twice as long to eat dinner as everyone else. And it took me an hour to walk home from school. We lived three blocks away! Ironically, I am not typically a tardy person. It simply takes me longer to make it all happen.
The problem with being slow is that it carries the connotation of also being lazy, stupid, or incompetent. Our culture applauds fast people. We pay fast people more money and give them better raises. We promote them over people who are…slow…because they think fast, talk fast, and move faster. Our game shows are centered around speed (Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune). Our sports emphasize speed (Nascar, all things racing). We are even rewarded for how fast we can think. Our academic tests are timed. We are praised if we can think and speak the answer faster than anyone else. We even have a magazine dedicated to the fastest growing churches in America.
My entire life people have been telling me to “hurry up”. And, subconsciously, every job I have had was an attempt to prove that I am not slow, lazy, stupid, or incompetent. The problem? I am slow. I am reticent. And any attempt to override my natural tendencies leaves me exhausted. In a recent article, the author bragged that he could help me “become a morning person”. If being a “morning person” means stuffing my day with more to-dos, then no thank you. If being a morning person means more time to breathe, then absolutely!
During this week of reflection, I began to wonder if any of us are actually wired for the speed of our culture. The rise of anti-anxiety and anti-depressants tells me that we could all stand to…slow down! Are we really making better decisions? Are we solving more problems? At what cost are we accomplishing more? And perhaps it’s not really “more” or “better”. Do we come home at the end of the day to fall onto the couch and drown out the sound of our depletion with Netflix?
Dear reader, could it be time to stop? Could it be time to slow down? If you are tired, learn to rest. You will be doing yourself a favor. You will be doing all of us a favor. And you might even have that encounter with God you so desire!