The quote that begins chapter 4 brings back to mind a recent conversation with a dear friend who lives far away. Normally we spend days, even weeks playing phone tag and in recent months the times we have caught one another have been for just a few minutes. Why.... because life is busy and I fail time after time to slow down and just live.All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.J. R. R. Tolkien
But finally the day came when our schedules finally aligned and a few hours were found to truly catch up and oh how good it was for my soul. She is such a dear friend and one whom God knew that I needed in my life. Sometimes we just need a friend who is not connected to our everyday journeys, one who can offer fresh perspective because she doesn't see the day to day. And sometimes it's good to just hear yourself say your thoughts out loud.
We talked about life and about our struggles. And a point was made that mid-twenties is just a weird place to be. She listened and I listened and we both identified with not knowing the future and realizing that what we wanted three years ago wasn't where we were and that there is nothing wrong with that.
Part of the issue is the society we live in.... everyone is always asking about the next season... when do you plan on getting married, when do you plan on having kids, when are you having another kid, when are you going to stop having kids, when are you going to retire, when, when, when.... and it never stops.
We live for what's next.... and we hurry through life and then wonder why we were are left empty.
Ann has figured out the problem."Whatever the pace, time will keep it and there's no out running it, only speeding it up and pounding the feet harder; the minutes pound faster too. Race for more and you'll snag on time and leak empty. The longer I keep running, the longer the gash, and I drain, bleed away.Hurry always empties a soul."
But she stirs my soul when she reminds that it is God who gives us time, yet it seems we have so little time to give Him.
And why do we hurry?? "Maybe it is the hurt that drives us on? For all our frenzied running seemingly toward something, could it be that we are in fact fleeing - desperate to escape pain that pursues?" And yes maybe, maybe Ann you are right. It makes sense, in a rather illogical way, to escape the hurt we hurry through life so we don't have to face it. But really all we do is exhaust ourselves because running from the pain doesn't make it go away.
Can we slow it down? Ann seems to suggest that we can. She quotes a favorite, a godly woman who writes so beautifully... "Wherever you are, be all there." And the scripture says to give thanks in all things, and Ann suggests that the problem isn't that we don't have enough time but that we don't have enough thanksgiving. Eucharisteo living... joy-filled living.
We can give thanks in all things, because He is in all things and He is all powerful, always in control. And "life is not an emergency. Life is eucharisteo." And the times we think are cause for emergency, for hurry, are actually times to stop, to acknowledge Him. to trust Him.
And that's what this counting thing is all about. It's not just another list to create, not another thing to check off... no it's to change a habit. A habit that has you racing through life, forgetting, missing the beauty that is all around. Missing the One who gives us every second.
Tulips bright and colorful
A clean flower bed, ready for planting
A day of dirt digging and soul filling with a best friend
A satisfied feeling after a day of hard work in the sun
Tearing away weeds as tall as trees
An empty fence line fully visible
Fields ready for new seed
A chance to catch up with a faraway friend
* I wrote about chapter 3 here
* All quotes are from Ann Voskamp's book One Thousand gifts chapter 4