I have a really bad habit. OK, so I have many, many bad habits, but one in particular has been at the forefront of my mind today: my ‘concern’ with the speed at which things happen.
If eating a meal with small children has taught me anything, it is that the faster you eat, the more of it you’re likely to consume ( hopefully!) before it gets cold or poked at by little fingers. As a result of this ‘speed eating’ skill, I find eating out without little people to be something of a luxury. But, it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been more than half-way through a meal that I haven’t had to cook, only to realise that I’ve swallowed a large portion of what was on my plate, having barely tasted it.
It’s only when I make the conscious decision to slow down, to take my time and actually taste each bite of the meal set in front of me, without having to worry about being disturbed or distracted or think about how quickly I can be cleared up afterwards, that I really enjoy the food that has been prepared. Delighting in each and every mouthful, knowing that my only requirement is to eat what I’ve ordered, without having to give a second thought to how long it needs to be cooked for, or how quickly I can be cleared up afterwards.
It wasn’t a speed eating issue that I was made aware of today though, but rather, the speed at which I walk. I have a terrible habit that I am only too aware of, whereby, even when I’m walking with the children, I seem to only manage slowing my walking pace a mere fraction and yes, I am guilty of being a, ‘Hurry up!’, ‘Walk a bit faster!’ mummy, when their speed is less hare and more tortoise.
Walking home from church today with our littlest ‘I can walk, I no need my buggy’ lady, it was she who was in control of the pace. This was not just because she was holding my hand, but also, because I was wearing heels. A need, ok, most likely a want, to move faster in flat shoes wouldn’t have posed a problem. I’d simply have picked her up (most likely kicking and screaming) and carried her part of the way. But, in higher heels, a faster walking pace just wasn’t an option and so, for a range of health and safety concerns, I let her dictate the pace and lead me.
Did it take me two to three times as long to get home as it would have done had I been in flats and she in her buggy? Absolutely! But, do you know what? Along the way, she missed nothing. Every sight, every sound, every person we met, every little detail on the way, she took the time to notice, to examine, to ‘discuss’, as only a two year old can.
I know that I often approach my days as a kind of to – do list that needs to be ticked off, particularly when things are busy and, as a result, I can be so focused on getting things done that I miss the bigger picture of what might actually be going on around me. I know only too well that it is not always practical to take things slowly but, when we have the opportunity to do so, it can be incredibly refreshing. There are so many wonderful things in the world around us and it is both a blessing and a privilege to breathe slowly and take notice; to drink it all in and take a moment to wonder, ‘Why that dog say barky bark?’; to smell the flowers and even, to have enough presence of mind to think and ask, ‘Why that man not say hello?’
Isaiah 40 verse 31 reminds us: ‘Those that wait on the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not grow faint.’ We may not have beaten any records today for the fastest walk home, but Isaiah’s words rang so true. It was refreshing and uplifting not to rush but rather, to ‘wait’; to put my own wishes to move faster on hold and, to let someone else take control. We had ample strength for the journey because we weren’t rushing ahead and while we may not have stood still, the steady pace meant that we had time to savour all that was around us. And, moving at a gentle speed meant that my feet didn’t even object to their ‘less than practical’ coverings!
All too often I want God to do things in the timing that I have chosen, when in actual fact, all He wants me to do is to ‘wait’ on His timing. If the walk with our littlest Miss taught me anything today, it was that when we take our time, there is much to enjoy and delight in, in the everyday moments which surround us, rather than simply wishing away the checklist of things that need to be done, in the quickest time. We still got home today, it just took a little longer than normal, but the moments along the way were definitely not wasted.
Maybe my little walk today was a simple reminder that it would do me no harm to approach life in a slightly different way. Perhaps I need to wear high heels more often, to slow my pace and realise that sometimes at least, it does no harm to be more tortoise and less hare.