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Site last published: 6/7/12

Slow Down

It has been a crazy busy month with my dad’s saga of being in and out of the hospital. I should have kept track of how many times I have driven to St. Joes, Chris Ridge or now Life Care Center. I love my dad and it doesn’t matter how many times or miles I have driven to visit, help him or attempt to ‘mop’ up a mess caused by some institution. My wife is always jumping on my case to take a day off and truly abide by God’s heart of a Sabbath rest.

As the alarm went off at 4:15am this morning I did question whether we should rise and take the dogs for our usual walk in the dark and cold. I have to admit that once a habit is ingrained in my psyche my internal alarm rings and wakes me up before my iPhone dock lights up and then gives it beep or whatever ring tone I select. Regardless of how I feel making my way out of bed I am always thankful for taking that 30 minutes to go with my Anne and the herd for a walk on the canal in the pitch black. This morning the moon definitely illuminated our path.

There was an article online that was boasting about the merits of being lazy on occasion, especially for those type A driven personalities like myself. Too often I judge the success of my day according to what I get done and also if I have read a certain book. The art of taking it easy so often seems to be unspiritual and contra to being an organized type. Yet, I am starting to enjoy the benefits of being lazy on a planned basis where I can read on my pad for a couple of hours. I don’t worry about how often the phone has ringed or more so vibrated and how many texts I have received in that couple of hours.

I am so thankful that my dad is literally walking distance from our house instead of having to drive about 30 minutes each way. So any emergency meant that I couldn’t be there too quickly. I hate to waste time but obviously you can take advantage of driving time as a moment of reflection or praying for the guy that just cut you off. The challenge for me is that I am surrounded by people who have specialized in being lazy and their goal is to either sleep their life away or find all of the short cuts, that allows them the privilege of never having to work, be responsible or follow through.

The real focus of this blog is about a friend who works at the South Mountain Community Center. He is a middle-aged guy with a family and a wife expecting. This last week he didn’t look so good or act any where close to normal. We have talked a lot over the last 2 years. He’s a good guy that has a so-so job and is trying to do school to improve himself and better provide for his family. As he shared about going into the ER with the obvious symptoms of a heart attack I was really concerned that last Wednesday night didn’t sound good for him.

I attempted to share with him the concept of learning how to center himself so that his life rhythm would slow down and have a real focus. I have no idea where he is spiritually but I attempted in a few minutes to describe what it meant to have an inner peace that was directed by God where you can find your strength and peace. I was trying to describe how too often we allow what really isn’t that important to consume our time, our focus and emotional energy. I said that slowing down inside would help him not be so quick to freak out. I have to go back and see him today and find out if he went to the hospital last Thursday or Friday. I know that his circumstances were overwhelming him and he was ready to literally ‘up it’.

I was in a totally different setting on Friday night at a banquet that was focused on doing neighborhood transformation work. My friend who had organized the banquet was a little up tight the morning before. Yet, the night of seeing a lot of hard work came to fruition saw my friend actually relaxed and able to enjoy the fruit of organizing and dreaming. I was able to enjoy and benefit from the overall message and tone of the evening. It was so awesome to be able to benefit from the work of others, as I have too often been the one to give to others in real need.

So is the power nap a thing of the past? Is it always that important to finish ahead of the pack and have this sense of being better then everyone else? I’m starting to discover that I can still be organized and do something with a spirit of excellence without being a maniac! I know that Jesus must have gotten flustered with his 12 when they would sleep too late, not understand simple things and then when left alone act out all of their humanness that just showed their need for a savior and advocate.

I am learning that I don’t have to be all things to all people all the time. Yeah, the Apostle Paul’s life motto, which I have always attempted to emulate, is that he wanted to be all things to all people with the goal of impacting their lives. The reality is that I am a jack-of-all-trades but at times a master of none. The only way I can become better at one thing is by saying no to something else. I know that Jesus was an amazing teacher both by his words and by his actions. What is amazing is that after the guys had 3 years with him and witnessed both powerful words and actions they still didn’t get it at the end. We often talk about impact and being able to assess how we are doing. I can see how Jesus was a little bummed on his last night with the brothers as they argued at the table, didn’t think at all about serving and then ultimately they all fled in the end and rejected the one who would lay down his life for them.

I know that in the past I was way too much focused on a one time decision and not developing a relationship with a new friend. I know that it is through sustainable relationships that lives turn around and families come together. It takes an incredible amount of time to establish these types of relationships. There isn’t any short cut to using the phone and getting in your car to go visit someone or setting up breakfast or lunch meetings. So how do I find a balance between being a recluse, couch potato, hermit or hyperactive networker? Who determines whether meeting a new person a week is good or meeting with 4 key contacts a week is enough? How many good deeds or acts of mercy should I do a week?

You may laugh at things like this but many people in today’s overworked society actually think this way. Jesus seemed to always rise early to get his alone time. He also seemed to make it a habit to go into people’s homes regardless of their political or spiritual stand. I sense that these are all good things. I know that when I help put out the Starbuck’s outside tables and chairs that some who are coming at 5am might think that I work there or I’m just crazy. Yeah, I should work there and I’m crazy because I care about others and want to help when possible. It is always appreciated. So get up early tomorrow but take a power nap or get alone at lunch to do something different to get refueled.

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