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?