Good observation is never fast; as a child, I was an excellent observer. I noticed things and I remember feeling as if there was never enough time for all of the things I observed and was curious about. Shortly after my family moved overseas, when I was 6 or 7, I saw teenage students mocking an older homeless man as he lay on a bench on the busy streets of Tokyo. I couldn’t take my eyes off of what was happening. The world had stopped so that I could feel my heart ache. I remember my Dad pulling my hand, reminding me that we had somewhere to go and to be. All I wanted was to stop and help the man we saw, scold the teenagers and talk with my Dad about why this older man was all alone in the state he was in, and why the teenagers were acting the way they were. It
burdened me for weeks, bringing tears to my eyes at each remembrance of it.
In elementary school, a teacher described my reading as slow. I’ve written about this elsewhere before, but it took some time for reading to catch on for me. But before I understood how the letters made words and words, sentences, I remember noticing the curves and lines of every letter and how some stood tall and confident, while others sat round and kind, and how our English letters differed from the characters I saw in everyday life as an expat child living in Japan.
At some point along the way of “growing up,” I realized that the world was asking me to move faster and I surrendered to the felt request. I heard the silent expectation for me to move fast or get out of the way. I believed the unspoken rule that going slow meant missing out on life. Apparently, the good life only happened in the fast lane. It didn’t take long for me to believe that slow was something to avoid and something to be ashamed of.
Over the last few years, I have been realizing just how frantic and frenzied my spirit has become. I’ve realized how wrong I was to believe that slow is bad.
The last 6 months in particular have forced me to slow down in a fresh way. I’ve been homebound and free of commitments outside of home and family in a way that I haven’t been for 5 years. I knew it would be necessary for our family, but I had no idea how much I personally needed to push the pause button.
I’ve come face-to-face with my impatience and the unkindness in me that flows out of it over the last 6 months. It hasn’t been pretty and I’ve spent time apologizing to my family and lamenting over the hurt that my impatience and unkindness has caused more times than I would like to admit.
When we move at a frantic pace, we don’t have time to see
the reality of brokenness in our world.
When we live life in a frenzy, we don’t have space to see
the brokenness and sin in our own hearts.
When our pace of life is only fast, we don’t have room to
lament and grieve or repent and receive.
If we want to truly become more like Jesus and we believe that He is the answer to every broken place in the world and within, there’s no other option but to slow down so we might truly see and respond to what we see.
As a new school year and Fall season peers around the corner at me with plans and new commitments in hand, I am aware of my pace.
This past summer, I’ve been reaching back for that little girl who noticed injustice on the streets of Tokyo, and telling her that it was okay that she stopped to let her heart ache. I’m reaching for her and finding that Jesus was there, pursuing her heart, and giving her a glimpse of His own heartbeat in those slow and broken places.
More than ever, I am embracing slow as a beautiful and necessary description for my own healing and for the healing we all long to see in world.