She said she had a dream and the point was that I should “slow down!” Then she hung up.
Suddenly I’m standing in my kitchen with five anxious children circling like vultures, looking for some scrap of confident direction for the day. I didn’t have it. In one miraculous act of good judgement I swallowed the guilt of teleparenting (where you entrust your children into the loving care of a screen) and sent them to watch a Magic School Bus. Then the tears came in torrents.
I had been feeling the pressure build in my chest for a couple days. Now my heart was as wide open as the suitcase on the table. The suitcase I was supposed to be packing. The suitcase that I didn’t have clean laundry to put in because all the laundry was in baskets all over the kitchen. I felt alone and overwhelmed. I was working so hard only to find at the end of each day I didn’t really get anywhere. The needs were piling up, the frustration was leaking out, and the resentment between me and my life- my family, was growing. In my mind, I was screaming at Him now…
This is so impossible. Everything is hard. How can you possibly tell me to slow down? There is no slowing down. Even when I try to do nothing there’s something- someone to feed, or comfort or answer! There are no breaks!!! I didn’t even want to be a mom, but I still give my all and then You come and tell me to slow down! Is this some sick joke?!
And there He is. Standing there, patiently looking at me and saying what He said to them when they were confused and offended. Are you going to leave me too?
But where can I go? These are the words of life.
Funny, how something that cuts you can still bring life. The fact of the matter is that I desperately needed those words despite the pain they brought. Really they only hurt my pride and I was suffocating in my pride. Pride isn’t always the arrogance we mistake it for. More often than not it’s just the belief that we are at the center of it all. And that’s where I was again. It was all hanging on my shoulders and either I was going to drop it and see the pieces shatter, or I was going to crumble under the weight of daily life. Neither of those outcomes sounded great.
But really, how can I slow down? The truth is I can’t; at least not physically. I do try to defend quiet time and if I can’t nap when they do I’ll often escape to the shower to reset. Sometimes that doesn’t even happen. And even if it does my heart is still on. And that’s the thing about caring deeply about something; even when you’re not physically present your heart is always on.
And my heart, as usual, is what He was talking about.
My heart had been going too fast.
Worry, guilt, ambition- they are cruel masters. They stand on our backs, whip in hand saying “Faster! Faster!” They take all strength and transfer all fault. They isolate us from those at our side and afford us no rest. He is different. He is a yoke bearer. He doesn’t stand on the plow, with a whip and yell. He says to come to Him and take His yoke because He is meek and we will find rest.
But Jesus walks at a much slower pace than our hearts are used to. In this we can find Him unfamiliar. Still, we also find Him good. Isn’t it interesting that the God who is holding all things together makes time for us? That He isn’t unsettled by the fact that things aren’t yet as they should be? And He doesn’t let the work determine His pace. He is governed by His own goodness and grace. Shouldn’t I be too?
Suddenly, I could breath. Suddenly, I could see the stuff that didn’t matter for what it was. Suddenly, I didn’t resent my children. In that moment, I could feel my heart shift and magically the last few weeks have been filled with clarity, conversations, and even a few crafts (which never happens). Even with my husband gone for half a month there was somehow more time; more space for what mattered most. I can feel myself in the moment and more importantly I can feel Him by my side. I’m not alone. And if I am overwhelmed it is not by the need but by His goodness.
It’s a daily choice; to tell my heart to slow down and walk with Him. When I look at the circumstances I’m easily led off pace and off track. When I look at myself I’m discouraged. But when I look at Him, well, it’s just better. My heart feels calm, and my feet feel sure and my kids don’t get left in the wake of my good intentions. It’s a better way. He’s a better way.
Father, for those who have lived lives full of ambition, fear, and guilt. For those who are running at a pace they can’t sustain and are losing the battles that matter most, shine your light on their hearts. Give them the courage to stop. Free their hearts from wicked masters who deprive the laborer of their food. Show yourself to them and let them have peace. Heal hearts that need healing today. Give new mercies where the old wells have dried up. Speak! Speak to their hearts and let them hear. In Jesus’ beautiful name. Amen.
p.s. As part of my slowing down, I have started a video blog to speak the encouragements that I so badly need to hear as a mother, and to bring a little laughter into your day. If you would like a laugh at my expense click here.