Slow Down: Part One
by Pauline Hylton
My hands gripped the steering wheel of my vehicle with such intensity that I could be in the Chevy truck commercials, singlehandedly holding the Silverado balanced dangerously on the edge of a 5000-ft. precipice.
It had happened again! I scheduled a dentistÕs appointment for 10 AM. Plenty of time, I thought. I got up at 5:30 AM, drank coffee and chatted with my husband for 43 minutes, worked on my Bible study lesson for 32 minutes, answered four phone calls, put in three loads of wash, swept the kitchen floor; and it was only 8:57. Surely I could fit in a walk! After I walked, it was 9:41. Still had time for a shower with a quick hair wash. I had exactly seven minutes to make it to the dentist. Then it happened, I WAS STUCK BEHIND SOMEONE GOING THE SPEED LIMIT! I was going to be late, again.
As I fumed and came so close to the guy’s bumper that I could have applied my lipstick from its reflection, I started to reflect. Why had I done this to myself? Why had I tried to fit an activity into every single little minute (long ‘u’) second? Call it multi-tasking, call it time management, call it mind-boggling, call me a doctor!
Then the thought hit me. I could slow down. I could slow down literally, personally, spiritually. Why, just the other day, I’d read something in the newspaper, while I dried my hair and made my bed, about the airlines slowing down. Yes, they were slowing down on take-offs and landings. Not that we ‘non-airline people’ would have ever known if they hadn’t told us. In fact, it’s kind of creepy that they did. But, I decided, if they could slow down without falling out of the sky, I could slow down without falling out of the sky, or something like that.
I thought I’d start with driving. I could slow down to the speed limit, or close to it. (I can’t get too spiritual.) I’d have to plan more time to get places and less time doing stuff before I left. Brilliant! I’d save on gas and sanity. In my case, two precious commodities.
Next, I thought I’d slow down physically. Not on exercise. No, just in the way that I move, everyday. In other words, I vowed to “live deliberately,” as one Bible teacher put it. Slowing down in everyday tasks reminded me of a home school field trip that I took with my children.
My home school class of two decided to attend a mock airplane accident in order to give emergency personnel practice for the real thing. My then 10-year-old daughter had gaping, life-like wounds applied to her head and leg. My 6-year-old son and I both had black bands signifying our ‘mock’ demise. We stationed ourselves quite dramatically outside of the plane.
The alarms sounded—blaring, loud, obnoxious sirens—which summoned a variety of emergency personnel to our aid. While trying to appear really dead, I opened my eyes in a slit and observed them as they arrived. They weren’t rushing to our aid. They were walking, quite casually, I might add. One even came to my side, checked my band, along with my son’s, and LEFT US THERE! HOW COULD THEY DO THAT? I understand leaving me, BUT MY BABY!
I learned from that experience. First, I learned that no matter how dramatically you play dead in a plane wreck, the ER people don’t laugh. Second, I learned that those emergency professionals were trained to walk slowly, deliberately, in order to make fewer mistakes.
I vowed to move slowly, deliberately. Prioritize.
Finally, I’ve decided to slow down spiritually, taking time to listen to God. Our world is so full of noise. It’s hard to hear the still, small voice of God, especially during this Christmas season.
A few years ago my friend was so overwhelmed with all of the Christmas activities and responsibilities that her husband came home to find his normally calm, meticulous wife sitting on the couch with a frazzled, unkempt look about her. Concerned, he asked, “What have you done?”
“I donÕt know,” she exclaimed. “But I’m not finished with it, yet!”
So to slow down, several times a week, I get on my knees and pray. Being on my knees isn’t magical for me, it’s just meaningful. It’s saying to Pauline that I mean business. I start out with thanksgiving and praise, acknowledging that I have no strength or ability to live a life pleasing to God without the help of the Holy Spirit. Next, I give up my rights. I ask God to use me to further His kingdom in His way. Then I ask Him to help me do that. I also pray for others—my family, my church, unsaved people and always the persecuted church. Then, I try to listen. Often, I’ll go for a walk, listen to a sermon or praise music on my iPod; then, I’ll turn it off and tell God that I’m listening. He speaks. Softly. Subtly.
I hear Him plainly on Sundays through expository teaching. I hear Him through Bible Study Fellowship. I hear Him through my family and close friends who hold me accountable. He’s speaking to me, perhaps He’s speaking to you and you’re just not hearing.
So slow down this Christmas. Enjoy. Listen. Rest. And by all means, be on time to your dentist appointments!
Pauline Hylton is a freelance writer from Largo, FL, who specializes in humor or whatever else you’ll publish. She loves dark chocolate, her family and the Lord (but not necessarily in that order). For more of Pauline’s writings, visit www.PaulineHylton.com.