It took less than a week of living in Utah to realize I had a problem. We were backpacking through the beautiful Uintas wilderness and on the last day all I could think of was how quickly I could get down the mountain so that I could get home and tackle my to-do list before my first day of work. That was when it first hit me how much I spend my life in a hurry.
I prefer to live each day running from one thing to the next, partly so I can experience it all, but partly so I don’t have to sit in the silence and process or hear things that I might not want to hear. I think we all relate to this – it’s why we love the distractions that swirl around us every day. Distractions keep us from facing reality and what’s going on in our minds and hearts, not to mention what’s going on between us and God. Thankfully, my time in Utah and the fellows has already pushed me to slow down, forced me to rest, and given me space to sit with God, even when I don’t want to do any of it.
On our first backpacking trip, when I was already noticing my anxious future-oriented thoughts, we were given a ton of time to spend alone with God in his creation. At first I was frustrated by the amount of time we were being forced to spend alone, but after a while it became an important moment for me. After I spent some time overthinking my choice to move to Utah, along with time trying to figure out my future, I eventually heard God whispering “Stop looking around for something to distract you. Just be here now. You are going to miss life if you keep asking me if you are in the right place. You are here. That’s all that matters. Make the most of the here and now before it’s gone.” This truth is one I need to hear daily. As much as I may think of myself as always present and all-in for the moment, I often spend too much of my time thinking of the next thing that I forget to be exactly where my feet are.
Honestly, it’s hard to be here when there are a million little things pushing us to be somewhere else, whether that be social media or planning or well-intentioned questioning relatives. We are always hustling towards “the next big thing.” I catch myself every day switching lanes to move past the slow cars, racing up whatever climbing route I’m on, rushing from each activity to the next. Am I too busy? Do I have too much on my plate? Why is it so hard to be present when I love all of my daily activities? In reality, I don’t think I’m doing too much – I’m just often approaching life in the wrong way. I can hardly be present when I’m just hurrying to check something off the list before I move onto the next task or activity.
We are pretty similar to all of Jesus’ relatives who were anxious and confused when they could not find him after leaving Jerusalem, because he wasn’t abiding by their time table and instead chose to sit in his Father’s house. If we really want to live and love like Jesus, then we actually have to live life like Jesus lived life – slowly and intentionally.
I am reminded of the well-known story of Mary and Martha in Luke. While we all hope to be like Mary, who abandons everything to simply sit at the feet of Jesus, I definitely tend to live more like Martha. Instead of resting in Christ’s presence, I am busy striving to perform the best that I can. Despite Martha’s good intentions to give Jesus the best she has to offer, she misses the whole point of his entrance into her home. He simply wanted to spend time with her and show her love, without her ever needing to prove anything. This world screams that we need to constantly be on the go in order to prove ourselves as important, worthy, successful, you name it. But everything that Christ did for us and every characteristic of God screams that He has made us enough and nothing we can do will change that.
This season of life has been busier than I ever imagined. I thrived in the busyness of being a full time college student, but I never imagined how that would compare to the “real world.” While I love my job and all that the fellows program entails, I have learned that rushing from one event to the next is not how I want to live every day here.
We just started going through Ecclesiastes the other day in class and about how control is the biggest illusion in most of our lives. While a first glance at Ecclesiastes leaves us feeling as if everything is meaningless, the real wisdom portrayed is that we all spend too much of our fleeting time on earth trying to control everything and hurry through it. We miss all the beautiful moments of life because we are never fully present when we are always trying to run to the next best thing. We zone out, we’re on our phones, we’re thinking of other conversations we would rather be in or places that we would rather be, and we end up taking each moment for granted. Instead, we should just be where our feet are.
I am constantly learning how to sit, take the slow lane, follow the speed limit, pick the longest line. I still struggle every day. There is a part of me that is constantly counting down the hours that work is over, so I can hurry to other activities, only to eventually hurry through those in order to finally “rest” before bed, which typically just means numbing my brain with another episode of Gilmore Girls rather than spending intentional time with the Lord. Some days I do better than others. As for today, I will try to show up, right where I am. As for you, put down your phone, look at the beautiful creation around you, and praise the One who continues to love our hurried hearts.
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Salt Lake Fellows Collaborative