The Courage to Slow Down
It was an ordinary and not-so-ordinary week, really. I had been battling a headache and sniffles for three days. I had work and more work coming. And I decided to say no to striving and yes to rest.
I stopped working at noon to choose rest for the remainder of the day. I chose to recharge instead of charging through. I knew it was the right decision. For a girl who has been running since January 1, it was time to do a little nothing.
To plan for my afternoon of rest, I headed out for some gluten-free/dairy-free soup and to Barnes & Noble for some reading material. You see I had two $ 25 gift cards burning a hole in my pocket. It was time to return the plastic to B & N. It was time to pick up some reading material.
I knew what I wanted. I had my eye on a couple of books for a few weeks now. If you're a reader like me, you are now distracted with what books I intended to buy. I'm always looking for a good read, so I won't disappoint.
- Nothing to Prove by Jennie Allen. Despite our very similar last names, we're not related but I feel like she's my soul sister. Always writing about the things on my heart and on my mind. Jennie spoke on this topic a year ago at the IF: Gathering. This idea that we are enough. That if God calls us, we are to embrace our calling instead of second guessing our skills. To find confidence in Him. I don't know about you - but I need a little confidence every once in a while.
- You Are Free by Rebekah Lyons. I don't know why but I'm really drawn to Rebekah's writing. She writes the real stuff. The stuff she's walking out in her everyday life. The tagline for this book is "just be who you already are". I could use some of that.
All that to say, I knew what I wanted. But...I had to keep browsing because you never know when you're in a bookstore.
As I was browsing, one little book caught my eye. Maybe it was the title. Maybe it was the cover. Maybe it stood out because it's not your typical book shape. Whatever it is, I picked it up.
The book is called Chasing Slow: the Courage to step off the beaten path. Written by a lifestyle blogger, the book is a collection of stories from her adult life. Stories where she has been chasing success and more stuff while the slow life found her.
The book starts with her move to L.A. from the midwest. She was pulled over by the police for driving too slow. The book ends with the realization that bigger is not better. More is sometimes way too much. That our drive to be successful and appear like we've made it takes a toll on our souls, our families, our lives.
I relate to her seasons of working all the time, keeping up appearances, maintaining stuff we sometimes can't afford, and being on a treadmill of showing the world that we've got everything under control.
Recently, several friends have "set me up" with coaches who have been in the business longer. Coaches who have thriving businesses and followings. I've spoken to them on the phone. They always ask what's your vision for the future of your business.
True confession: most days my vision is to still be in business in the future. That's it. But the pressure builds. I want to say something that sounds entrepreneurial. A business with staff. A movement of peeps leading these studies I am writing. As I hang up and even see all the businesses advertising on Facebook, I often wonder if I heard God incorrectly. Is this what I'm supposed to be doing? Really? I have no idea what I'm doing!
And yet, in the stillness after I've put down my phone and stopped comparing myself to the next coach or business owner, I realize one thing. God's call on my life to own a business was never about a successful business. It has always been about trusting Him to provide as I walk where He tells me to.
The truth is, I love my life. I'm self-employed and I chose my schedule. Some days I work my PT job and rest because I don't feel well. Other days, I'm hosting women in my home for a coaching curriculum. Other days, I'm writing and developing websites for therapists.
With each step, I've found joy in using my gifts to make a living and serving others with what I bring to the table. Will I be voted small business owner of the year? Maybe not. But through my experience and my aversion to answering questions about the future of my business and if I'm a success, I'm learning that it takes courage to chase slow. It takes courage to say that what God provides is enough.
If you're anything like me, you know you want to chase slow but you just don't know how. The rat race keeps going. You may be trampled or looked at weirdly or questioned. So how do you and I chase slow?
I've got a few ideas from my weekend read that I know you'll love....
1. Make time for doing what you love
The reality for so many of us - is that we don't always love what we do. Some skills and talents just don't put bread on the table, if you catch my drift. And so, most of our time, going to work is spent on tasks we wouldn't have chosen as our 18 year old selves. But our family needs us. Our dogs need us. The vet bills need us (Moose & I just went to the vet today - you can ignore if it's not your time).
But we can make time for doing what we love. We can carve out an hour or 30 minutes to do something we love. Do you love to write? Start small. Carve out 30 minutes a week. Do you love to create? Take some moments - even if it's when the kids have gone to bed - to create. Don't have 30 minutes to carve out? It's time to say good-bye so you can say hello to what you love. Every yes is a no to something else. So consider what you can say no to.
2. Enjoy the moments
In the book, Erin and her husband bought a house in L.A. in the real estate boom. They also lost it all and couldn't afford it when the market crashed. After declaring bankruptcy, she and her husband moved back to Indiana and lived with her in-laws. Just as they moved in, her father-in-law became ill - terminally ill.
It was in these moments that she learned what mattered most and began to enjoy the moments. I know what you're thinking - I struggle with this one too. Being busy and flying by the moments makes us feel important and needed. But missing the moments - make us regret the striving. So slow down enough to notice the sunset, the melting snow, the people in your life and enjoy your moments.
3. Examine Your Expectations
Life is not as I expected at the age of 48. I expected a bigger house and more people in it. I expected to be settled in my career instead of just starting a new one.
In my mind, our expectations are a double-edged sword. On the one hand, I think healthy expectations can be the catalyst that moves us forward. Expectations help us dream and take action on those dreams. Expectations help us not to drift.
On the other hand, our expectations can be like a vise - keeping us stuck in wanting what we don't have and forgetting to enjoy the moments that are God's gift to us. Sometimes, letting go of our expectations takes courage. The decision to let go of expectations can be just what we need to stop wishing for the life we always wanted and start living the life we have. Dropping expectations can help you and I start living with purpose in the here and now.
4. Stop Trying To Be Enough
In the last 6 months, I've been on a little journey. You see, I never realized this before but I think I need to do things right. Not perfect. But right- so that I don't disappoint others and God. Somewhere along the way, I started believing that I was enough for any task.
I have made a habit of pulling my pants up by my bootstraps and getting it done. And, for those who are curious, it is whatever the task at hand is. Being a good friend. Building a business. Directing a ministry. Fixing the bathroom sink. I should be able to do all those things right?
The problem: I'm not good at all those things. I don't have a natural knack for those things - especially the sink business. The truth of the matter is that if I am enough - I don't need God. Often, God will call us to stuff that's way over our head to help us see we are not enough. He beckons us to depend on his strength to minister and serve others in His name.
When you and I stop trying to be enough... in our parenting. In being a good spouse. In being great at our job. In being great at life. We cease striving. We let God have the reigns. We stop trying to impress and allow God to do his best work through us.
It's okay to not be enough. It's okay to be imperfect. It's better to be present.
I don't know about you - but it seems like I have a hard time learning this lesson about living in the slow. I can feel it in my schedule. I can feel it in my spirit when I'm feeling rushed or overworked or on that little hamster wheel that just keeps spinning.
But over the last year, God keeps reminding me. Get off the treadmill. Cease striving. Let me be enough for you. Choose to be brave by following me.
Chasing Slow was the reminder I needed. The reminder that what God provides is enough for me. Better yet, that God is enough for me.
How are you doing at chasing slow? Do you have any tips for the One Foot Community or a good book to help with insight? Comment here and I'll be sure to share it with the One Foot Peeps!