I strode out last week, cutting it fine for a dental appointment. 'If you're on time, you're late', ever heard that one? It's true. Planning to be on time means there's no buffer for the unexpected such as baby throw ups, missing keys, lost shoes, misplaced bag, coffee spills, putting the bins out. I'm usually always on time, I hate being late, that's just my thing the older I've gotten. 'The closer you live, the more likely you are to be late', ever heard that saying also? It too, is true. Back in the late 90's I literally lived across from my job at a newspaper, like across the road friends. I was late soooo many times. Having just moved house a couple of months ago we're now closer to the village than before, which is great as it means we can walk in easily to coffee heaven, writing havens and church. Do you think I'm late? Not yet, but it's been close!
As I was 'hoofing it' last week (who would normally rush to the dentist?!) I was close to being late. I was like a nocturnal hunting creature with heightened senses, looking for short cuts, catching the tail end at the traffic lights, dashing, swerving, overtaking, power walking like a pro. I managed to make it there just in time and fell upon the green sterilised chair in a sweaty heap! I was almost looking forward to the lie down!
It struck me as I was walking how similar this is to my personal walk with Christ and the varying stages I've journeyed through over the years, can you relate?
Sprints: There have been seasons, particularly B.C. (before children) when I've been able to dash and speed along. How beautiful, how blazing, but oh how hard to sustain! We're not all in a sprinting season and even when you are you still need to pace yourself to avoid burnout.
Toddlers: I passed the mum holding her little boy's hand, forced to walk at his pace, to hold him, steady his steps, encourage and guide him. What wonderful years, such a gentle off-to-the-side pace, without her by his side that little one would stumble, walk into harm or could become lost. Mama, if you're feeling slowed up by all these blessings God gave you ;) ....can I remind you today of the powerful influence and place you have in your child's world. You are their world! You have the ability to love them well, love them to Jesus, to show them his heart through your hands and words. Through your sacrifice you're building a sense of self-worth and value deep into your child's soul DNA. You're framing their world with your words, actions and example, it's the most demanding and most esteemed role you'll ever have!
It's exhausting work too, tireless giving, serving, laying down of your rights and desires so make sure you look after you.
That's not selfish, that's wisdom.
Hampered: I passed a youngish woman wearing a beautiful floral dress and one pretty shoe, then this oversized hospital grey footwear, honestly it looked like and elephant foot! But, she was going along really well on her crutches, a friend was walking with her, keeping step. There was no speeding along for her for a while, but she was still making progress. She leads me onto my next comparison...
Don't Go It Alone: Read my previous blog about getting in a good circle but it's basic good sense right?..find a friend, a good friend! And if there's not one in real life, find them where you can; books, podcasts etc. English reserve should be renamed as English Preserve; frozen, freeze dried, maintained in it's original state (Websters). I can say this because I'm English! Girls, we really have to break through the reserve which stops us reaching out and making connection with others, not only do we fail to grow the way we're designed to in community, but it's lonely! As my friend so rightly puts it, 'A woman isolated and on her own becomes a target for discouragement and depression'. God says, 'Two are better than one, for if they fall, one will lift up his/her companion'.
Have you got someone to lift you up today?
Limitations: Leaving a wedding on the weekend, the large party made its way along the narrow ancient path away from the church. As the line snaked its way outward we became caught in a very slow moving group. Looking up ahead I saw a 91 year old woman gradually edging her way along with the use of a frame, and once again someone walking along keeping her company. Such a sweet sight to see her independence and progress, the rate of pace didn't bother her (although I'd wager that given the choice she'd rather have younger legs) but she steadily made her own way and enjoyed the walk all the same.
Embracing the limitations on your life and season is the secret to contentment and deep abiding peace.
Pace car: Then there were those at the front, like myself this day, zooming along, eyes on the prize, fixed destination. I live in London and so this natural flow can be seen every day on the busy tube system full of commuters. There's an unspoken code, an ebb and flow. I love tracking with a pace setter, tucking in behind their slip stream and benefitting from the path they're clearing. Spiritually these are those who call me forward towards maturity, deeper into humility and in pondering Christ.
The thing is, know your stage, choose your pace, and understand that different seasons call for different walks. It's ok to overtake and not be hindered, it's also equally ok to take your time and rest along the way as you need to. If you are a racer, don't forget to slow down and walk with others on your trail. And if you're in a slower lane, don't forget to cheer those flying ahead.
But run so as to win.
Run your race.