I started out going to write a few interesting stories. Nevertheless, as I sat in my state of forced thoughtfulness due to yet another severe cold, an idea came to my mind. It has been there for a month now, and my down time has helped to enlighten some of those ideas. A caveat - this may be a bit deep, but I'm not apologizing for that at all.
In this modern era, we view time in unique ways. For example, "Time is money." Time runs out; we don't have enough of it; we need to cram more in and seize the day. We hurriedly rush about, and I have often thought of the Shakespeare line "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing" while driving in to work. We place a great deal of emphasis on speed and being fast. Watch how people drive in traffic or behave when their flight is delayed and you will quickly see my point.
While there is not room here, studies have been done that show fast driving only gets you there a few minutes earlier at the most, raising crops and food faster may take away its flavor and nutritional value, and speed often compromises quality. Fast food actually has a ton of addicting calories, and adding a salad to ease a guilty conscience does not improve the content of your meal. It potentially makes it worse for you! The list could continue on for quite a while. Even exercise with its new 30-minute workout trend...you need a balance with a little intensity, but the speed skating team for the Netherlands? The team that carried away the majority of the medals at the last winter Olympics? The majority of their training stayed under a specific heart rate, and that wasn't a rate up in the 170-180s!
We place value on things we can get fast.
The faster, the better.
We place value on things we can get exactly the way we want them.
Company slogans cater to this. Sales and advertising emphasizes this. Churches act like savvy businesses. Methods of learning claim to be "fastest." In a digital age with everything at our finger tips, even faster speeds are possible. Why slow down? Your brain and body love the rush of moving so fast, making decisions instantaneously. It is addicting. The most difficult time for students in higher education (myself included when I was there) is immediately after exams when one goes from intense cramming speed to vacation's nothing. Is it possible to unplug?
The more I read, the more ludicrous it seemed...and the more sure I was that I couldn't be that way. (You can feel free to laugh at that!) Who would speed and endanger lives just to get to a job a few minutes earlier? And many dislike their jobs at that! I certainly would never do that, and I didn't make a fuss in airports over delays. I considered myself a patient person, but the more I observed, the more I saw ways in which I was not. I expected things to happen quickly. I expected some things to come easily. My driving speed tended to be like those around me. I could get irritated when something slowed me down. I started adjusting and slowing down, going for quality over quantity.
Not that I'm saying you should never go fast. There is a time and place for everything, but our brains do need time to slow down and process. That is a scientific fact. Speed does have its costs. For me, I had no time to be creative, exercise, think, breathe. It was all too much. Even if I was walking somewhere, my brain was still in overdrive, so I took to intentionally developing this new mindset. I wanted to absorb, digest, and process instead of having jumping and running as my default.
I began wondering in what other ways I might be addicted to "faster is better."
One thing immediately came to mind. It surprised me.
Next on its heels was meditating.
I would ponder things briefly, come to a quick decision about what needed to happen, then ask God for it. There were the requisite "thank yous" and a few sentences of "talking" but the heart of where I was going was always the list. That was the core motivation. Always. It was humbling to realize I wasn't as patient as I thought I was, but it was more crushing to realize that God communicated to me while I never truly communicated back.
I thought back to all of the prayer meetings and prayer groups I'd ever been a part of....surely it couldn't all have been that way. Sadly, they were. The group would get together and make the list of requests and then pray for them. It was expected that God would just give it to you. If someone had a prayer request multiple weeks, it was assumed that they must be praying for it wrong or not sincere enough. We rarely prayed for something more than three weeks in a row unless it was a sick family member.
Longer and slower is not necessarily better. This post is not meant to be a rant. It is a reflection. With what attitude do we approach prayer and life? Am I willing to wait or hear "no"? Can we "be still and know"...do we even remember how? Perhaps even more compelling, are we willing to slow down and take that kind of time to develop the relationship? It is easy to forget things and push them aside when you're going fast. It can be easier to try to cram more in to solve your own problems instead of praying. And it is so easy when praying to check off your list and wait to receive the goods.
Life has many components. Speed and quick decision making are a part of that, but only a part. Are there ways I can be more intentional with my time, ways I can focus on developing deeper connections and relationships, ways I can be still and remember my Creator now? "Faster" and "now" are insidious and sneaky. I want to notice them more.