The Need for Speed

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Happy New Year! There are so many things that I love about a fresh start. I am one of the holdouts who still uses paper calendars and planners, and I happily sit down at the end of December and transfer all of the birthdays and other important dates onto the calendar for the upcoming year. I’ll even admit that I go so far as to attempt to color code activities for the kids. Right about now you are either totally identifying with me or you are rolling your eyes. Both are ok! One of the benefits of reaching your mid-40s is that you learn to own your quirks. The last few years have found me meeting the January 1st turnover with trepidation and caution. 2020 needs no explanation, and the year 2021 was even worse for my family. It’s hard to believe that we are moving into 2023 already. It hasn’t been a smooth ride. Anyone else?

I have struggled with the uncertainty of the past few years. I am a planner at heart. I’m a stereotypical oldest child, type A person with perfectionist tendencies. To be clear, I’m not always proud of those qualities. The past few years have taught me the value of slowing down, and I find myself feeling overwhelmed now that we are back to regular speed. My temptation is to attempt to control the chaos by working harder. IF ONLY, I tell myself, I could get more organized, be better at meal planning, not wait until the last minute to fill up my gas tank, THEN, life will just run with fewer problems. I sometimes fall into the trap of believing that when I don’t run at full speed that I’m allowing, or somehow even encouraging, these things to happen.

Luckily, I’ve learned a few things about running over the years. Back in the days before I was a middle-aged mom, I ran track and cross country in high school. I didn’t have a passion for running, but I did have a friend who convinced me to join her on the team. I will never forget the first cross country meet. One of my fellow runners told me that the trick is to sprint at the start to get to the head of the pack. So, being a naïve teenager, I followed her advice without questioning it. That was a very bad idea. The starting gun fired and I took off. I ran as hard and as fast as I could. It was working…until it wasn’t.  I was in the front half of the group but then the obvious thing happened. My legs turned to rubber. My lungs were on fire. I had a long way to go and was getting slower with every step. To be honest, that’s not far off from how I feel right now. I’m still trying to sprint through this marathon of a year which is ending with one problem after another. At least my immediate family didn’t have Covid for for Christmas this year. One of the things I’ve learned from these really hard years is to be thankful for the small victories.

Man plans and God laughs, or so the saying goes. How do we start a new year with fresh perspective and long-held dreams? Maybe the answer is that we need to wait. Take a beat. Turn to the LORD before relying on ourselves. Seek first His face and ask for guidance. That’s the easy part. The next part is more difficult. Now we need to wait on Him to direct our steps or to give us discernment about our purpose. This can be especially difficult if you are in a season of transition. Job changes, growing children, or aging parents can all change your daily routines. The tried-and-true methods may not work for us anymore.  I don’t know about you, but I struggle with the waiting. I’m not good at being still, certainly not when there are so many things to be done. I’m so often guilty of thinking I can do things on my own. I like feeling capable and competent. These are not bad things, but they should not be what I rely on.

Years ago, my family took a vacation in Colorado. We were not used to being in the mountains and were enjoying all of the natural beauty. One of our early stops was at a lake. There were a few people there that were fishing from the shore. The sky was a brilliant blue and the weather was a nice break from the oppressive Georgia heat. My kids wanted to explore and they had hiked up the incline next to the lake. Kids don’t generally stop to strategize. Mine certainly didn’t. They were having lots of fun as they slowly made their way up the mountainside. The younger ones were stopping to inspect pinecones and rocks along the way. I remember watching them and being pleased that they were living in the moment and experiencing some of the freedoms of childhood. At some point, we called to the children that it was time to go and we waved at them to return to us. Guess what? Walking uphill is a much different experience than running downhill. To be clear, I did not instruct any of the children to RUN. My 8-year- old son got that idea all on his own.

It started out as a race to beat his sisters to the bottom. He took off at a quick jog which quickly turned into a run. It turned into a really fast run. The adults are now yelling, “Slow down!”  Oh, how he wished he could. You could see the expression on his face change from one of exhilaration to one of realization. He was speeding onward and if he didn’t get control of his feet, he was going to run straight into the lake. As adults, I think we fall prey to this occasionally. Who among us hasn’t acted without looking ahead or stopping to ask ourselves if what we are about to do is a good idea? My impatience sometimes pushes me to act and try to force the stars to align for any given mission of the day. I won’t lie. Sometimes it’s effective. In fact, more often than not, I accomplish my goal. I have learned though, that what might be good for my to-do list is not always good for my soul.

My son avoided running into the lake. It was a close call. The fishermen were all watching it unfold with rapt attention. I was holding my breath and thinking about the fact that we didn’t have any extra clothes with us. I didn’t stick my feet in the water, but I’m willing to bet that a Colorado lake is colder than a Georgia swimming pool. My son learned a lesson about running downhill. I learned a lesson about preparedness on vacation. More importantly, I have learned over time that I will feel more centered, more sure in my actions, when I have truly given myself time and space to think and pray about what I should be doing.

As we enter into this season of fresh starts, I invite you to slow down. Many of us are busy making resolutions that we generally only stick to for a few weeks. Commercials shout at us about gym memberships and weight loss programs. Friends are contacting us with “challenges” for the New Year. The world yells at us to hurry, but the LORD tells us to wait on Him. We are not called to rush through our lives. Some of us are in busy seasons. Some of us are called to wait. Most of us are walking through both of these things. We can be active without losing sight of who we are if we remember some basic truths. We are loved. We are valuable. Our worth is not dependent on what the world thinks about our accomplishments. Psalm 139:1-2 tells us this: “You have searched me, LORD, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.” He knows us. He knows YOU. Rest in that knowledge and if you are feeling overwhelmed going into the New Year, start with those basics.

Heavenly Father, as we walk into January, may we feel the blessings of a fresh start. May we remember to bring the long-held desires of our heart to You rather than relying on our own abilities. Be with us, LORD, as we walk with faith, seeking to find the place you have made just for us. May we find renewal of our spirit that brings relief, for we know that your mercies are new every morning. Amen.


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  1. Betty says:

    Thank you – I hear you. I’m aiming to slow down. Will if that works

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