For years, I’ve been teaching and writing about the disastrous effect a hectic pace has on our spiritual life. I’ve been telling people to slow down, simplify, breathe.
And yet, my fall schedule is typically very full. In a normal economy, autumn is church retreat season, and in most years, my September and October calendar includes a lot of travel and speaking. I’m sometimes out of town nearly half the weekends September through November.
A couple of years ago, I found myself crying whenever I had to describe my fall travel schedule to anyone. I tried very hard to pay attention to that.
Last year, I traveled and spoke quite a bit, and was writing a book. I remember cell-phone conversations with my editor while sitting in an airport waiting for a flight, and working on my laptop on airplanes.
I felt God nudging me to cut back on speaking for a season. To stop only preaching this message, in order to live it. Actually, it was more than a nudge. I’d already cut back from the pace that drove me to tears, but I sensed God wanted me to be home even more.
My children are teenagers. Anyone who thinks kids need you less at this stage hasn’t been through it. They are much more independent, yet they need to know you are around, that you are available. Never have I had to invest so much quantity time to get quality time.
So I thought, I’ll cut back my speaking. Ha, ha. God (and our economy) have ensured that I cut back, and as a result, I have one speaking gig, a local, one-day retreat, this fall. I believe that God has withheld opportunities to speak so that I can rest, and so that I can be with my kids and my husband.
To make up for the lost income, I’ve taken a part-time office job, a couple mornings a week while the kids are in school. I’m continuing to work my normal job as a freelance writer. (So, yes, I am working two part-time jobs.) I volunteer at church, I spend time with friends. I know that doesn’t sound exactly like a leisurely pace, to some of you. But the stress of traveling, of speaking to large groups of strangers, the intensity of preparation for leading a weekend retreat—having a break from them feels like I’m on vacation. Except that I’m here, at home. I’m on the sidelines at my son’s football games. I’m available, to my kids. I can spend a day with my family, or with friends.
I’m a working mom, but I want to be available to my family. I also want to be available to God. I feel much closer to him—maybe because I listened and obeyed, maybe because our relationship has become so much more intimate and private now that I’m not standing up and talking about it all the time. I’m trusting that this season will bear fruit in my life, and in my family.
Where is God asking you to slow down or simplify?
This is such a great word. I know for me it’s hard to turn down opportunities because I think, ah! God is calling. But so often it’s more likely that he’s calling me to slow down, to pace myself. My own litmus test is my relationship with my kids and husbands. “Doing ministry” in a way that causes strife at home is so oxymoronic, I want to laugh. Yet I do it so much! There’s always one more opportunity around the corner, one more whisper of “we need you!”
What more would the enemy want than me so busy elsewhere that I neglect the ones I love the most?
God is showing me how to simplify my life in terms of “things” . I didnt really realize how much “things ” – made me comfortable. Whether it was pads of paper, little knick-knacks – pictures, accessories, etc – they all created special memories. Even some clothing, i had I finally had to let go of. My husband I have have recently down-sized into a apt. from a house, and we had to really get rid of lots of stuff – I believe God is making room for more, and unless we simplified some things, there quite honestly may have not even been ROOM for more! I definitely could use less things, and a greater knowledge of how to stay organized with less. Managing less has actually made me feel more capable. And more adept. We cannot bear fruit i suppose, unless He first prunes us.
Thanks for sharing… I choose to abide in Him. John 15
That’s a good question – so many things! I’m reading your book on Sabbath rest right now, the first book of yours I’ve read. What a challenge, but so fulfilling! I’ve been writing about it on my own blog, and I’ve found that after I’ve written about a thought sparked by musing what I’ve read, I’ll sit down to read again and find you’ve already said it. What an amazing process. Thank you.
Since the title of this book is rest: Living in Sabbath Simplicity – I naturally assumed that it was actually about the Sabbath…silly me. I know, I should not have assumed because we all know what that feels like. If we could all see God’s words and works and see that from the beginning He has never changed we would still be observing God’s Sabbath on its rightful day – The Seventh (7th) day of the week – Saturday, or to be more exact at sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday. Please think about this. I know it means a great deal to God. Why else would He have mentioned it sooooo many times in the Bible, and not once mentioned for the Catholic Church to change it to Sunday, the First (1st) day of the week. I’m sorry if this offended you, but it was something that is weighing on my heart as a Christian. Please don’t take my word for any of this…research it and draw your own conclusions. Thank you for reading.
Brian, thanks for your comment. You mention my book–if you read the whole thing, you will see that I did research extensively, and write about, the question of which day to practice. When God first made the world and rested on the Sabbath, it was not on Saturday–because calling a certain day Saturday didn’t happen until the Roman Empire, when the Romans named the days of the week after planets (Saturday is “Saturn’s Day”). At one time, Saturday was the first day of the week, and sunday was the second! Different cultures used different calendars, all different from the one we have now. Eventually, the Jewish and secular calendars shifted & re-alligned. This happened way before the Catholic Church did anything. Craig Harlane’s book “Sunday” is an excellent resource explaining this in more detail.
People who never rest have to begin their journey toward understanding Sabbath by simply realizing their need for rest. They must respond to Jesus’ invitation: “come to me and I will give you rest.” And Jesus invites us away from legalism and toward himself.
Which would Jesus say is more important: the letter of the law, or the spirit of it?
thank you so much for this entry. I have small children now and many will say to me, ” Just wait to they get older and then you can do the things you are passionate about!” Yet in my heart I know I will need to be home during the high school years too. I know what a gift it was when I was in high school that my mom was available. Now in a world where everyone is on their phone, iphone, blackberry, blue tooth…I sense the next generation is going to need us available more than ever. Thank you for your honesty it has refreshed my day.