Friday, September 19, 2014

on slowing down.

On the flight home from New York City last week I decided that Fridays would be my writing days. I love to write and I think it is an important part of what I do so I wanted to create time in my life for it. Before I would set aside just a few hours in a day for writing because I never thought I was allowed to have a whole day. Taking a whole day was like taking an extra helping of dessert when I've already had some, greedy and selfish. But I have changed my mind on it. Partly because I think God led me to do it and partly because I learned recently that we are more effective when we group our tasks by similarity rather than jumping from one thing to the next all throughout the day. The lady at the conference said that it takes your brain something like 7 minutes to shift from one task to the next, so you end up losing time trying to multitask. She suggested planning your schedule in a way that keeps you doing the same type of job for longer chunks of time- a time for emails, a time for phone calls, a time for meetings... etc. It made sense to me because whenever I would give myself an hour to write I would feel rushed and depleted of creativity, distracted with thoughts of the never ending list of "other things" I needed to do soon. But this week was different. This week I planned my schedule like the lady said, working on MFC stuff all at once one day, and Beauty Arise stuff on a different day, and I saved the best for last, I made Friday my writing day. You can imagine how excited I was to wake up this morning, like a little kid on the first day of summer break. Thank you Lord for Friday.

I've been sitting here in a quiet space typing away with coffee at arms length and some water too so I don't die of dehydration, and classical music on my pandora station which is maybe a bit of an overkill but I thought it might make me feel even more like a real life writer. Everything is in place except of course the words, which I am trying to find now.

Sometimes I feel like I am racing, like I'm running through life at full speed attempting to fill my emptiness with busy-ness, afraid that if I slow down, then I'll feel, and that if I feel then I won't know what to do with my feelings and then I'll just dissolve into a puddle of mush on the ground. I don't even mean to do it. Its just hard to know how to focus and who to focus on and it seems like there are always so many things and people and needs fighting for my attention. So without knowing what to do I just race on full-speed ahead, hoping that if I get more done then the yucky feelings will die away. Of course they don't and they won't, not by racing at least. 

Almost 2 years ago I met with a pastor over coffee. Some would argue that she was actually the pastor’s wife but she also did pastor jobs so in my book she is a pastor too. Not only was she a pastor and the wife of a pastor but she was also a homeschooling mother to 6 children, and a working actress and model. You can imagine how bewildered I felt looking at this woman’s life. I was enamored by her, how could someone be so poised and lovely in appearance while also being so involved in all of these other places? When I asked how she managed to balance it all she gave me a glorious bit of wisdom that I have savored ever since. She said that God gives us all kinds of gifts and roles but He doesn’t intend for us to operate in all of them all at once. She said in some seasons she is more mother than actress, and in others she more actress than pastor; she is always faithful to God and to her family so that part never changes, but what varies is how she chooses to spend her time and energy in each chapter of her life. At that time she felt that the Lord had directed her to focus primarily on helping her children adjust to a recent move and so she had laid down some acting jobs in order to be fully present for her family and the church. She concluded her thoughts by expressing that regardless of how she is spending her time in a given season, she is never shy to claim the gifts God has given her, for instance, even if she hasn’t had a role in movie for several years she still confidently tells people she is an actress because she knows it is an important part of who God made her to be. I liked her answer so much, especially because she didn’t seem to be running in the way that I feel like I am running sometimes. She seemed rested and alive to the moment. I wanted that. I still want that. 

I am a wife of a handsome and Godly skater man who started and now directs an international ministry to skateboarders. I am a sister to Meredith and a sister to many other girls and women who have become like family over the last 26 years of my life. I am also a sister to a whole bunch of brothers, mostly skateboarders, who have shared a roof with us, some for months and others for years. These men have become my family too and I feel it most when they are dating girls because I get overprotective and a little weird and I know it can only be attributed to feeling like a big sister who needs to protect them from getting their hearts broken. I am a director of two different organizations that together encompass most of why I feel I was put on this earth. In one I am leading girls and women around the world to be who they were created to be and to understand their God-given beauty, identity, and value. In the other I am reaching out to professionals in the fashion and entertainment industries and inviting them to know the love of God and use their influence to impact the world for Christ. I live for that stuff. I am a blogger and a listener and a writer and a party thrower and a missionary who lives in a room at a church and doesn’t get paid but rather raises financial support from Christians who believe in what we are doing. I am a talker who loves to read and walk and win at sports. I am an intercessor, the crazy type of lady who prays for big things and little things and everything only because when I’m not praying I am worrying and I'm convinced that praying is much better than worrying. I am a communicator who would rather send a card than an email and would rather have coffee than skype. I like to shovel snow but I don’t like to pump my own gas. I like to mow the lawn but I don’t like to garden. I love California and Colorado and Spain and Chile and India.. and I think maybe everywhere else we have been too. I am a lot of things but I'm learning that I can’t be all of them all at once. Its too much and if I try it will destroy me. 

I want to slow down. I think I need to slow down. I can feel God inviting me to slow down, slowing me to a still. It's funny how desperate I am for Him. I need Him to lead me, I need Him to empower me, and I need him even to slow me down when I am racing beyond His will. It’s like a child who finds out her Mama is taking her for ice cream and then in her excitement she takes off running ahead to get to the ice cream shop as quickly as possible. Her mother slows her down, not because running is a bad thing, but because her running could lead her to bad things. She could get lost or end up in dangerous traffic, or even just miss out on the experience of being with her Mama as together they walk to their favorite place. 

God has promised me great places and I have taken off running. I’m slowing now though. Not because He is mad at me but because my running could get me lost, or take me to a dangerous place, or because it could cause me to miss this journey of being with HimAs I slow to a walk, and breathe deeply, I am assured that I can be everything He has created me to be while only giving my attention to some things in this season. One friend of ours who is famed in the world of skateboarding told us that since he knows he can't be there for everyone who wants his attention his goal is to do for one person what he wishes he could for everyone. Shaun and I think that is good advice. 

It's okay to say no. Its necessary even. And it is good to say yes to important things, like writing on Fridays. We all have gifts and roles and lots of things that we are called to do here on this earth, but we can't do them all at once. We aren't meant to. It is important to slow down. 

God is taking me to my favorite places and I am learning that I don’t need to race to get there. Besides if I am racing then I'll spill my coffee, and who would want to waste a perfectly good pumpkin spiced latte? 

Exactly. No one.

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In the heart of slowing down here are some photos of our Palm Springs getaway a few weeks ago. Shaun and I hope to make a habit of "weekend getaways". Our goal is for them to be free or nearly free and a time to connect and prepare for the following week. They don't even need to be "away" necessarily, but they need to be a time of disengaging with work life and online life and any other life that takes away from our life together. We want to be intentional about our family and friends that feel like family, and about pursuing the heart of God. I'm 5 years into marriage, 7 years into trusting Jesus, and 26 years into life. 
Praise the Lord. Slowing down is a good thing. 

1 comment:

Cayla Bertelsen said...

This is so good Jess, exactly what I needed to hear in this season! Thank you for writing and sharing- you are a blessing!