A car that is driving at highway speeds has two options when it comes to slow down for a stop:
a) The brake can be applied;
b) If the car is manual, the driver can take the transmission slowly from 5th gear, to 4th gear, to 3rd gear and so forth. The car will slow.
Now in the event of an emergency, there is only ONE option: the brake!
I must admit it, I've been living my life at BREAKNECK speeds. For years. And honestly, I thought nothing of it. However the toll of those years of self propelled velocity have taken their toll. My body crashes HARD when the stomach bug visits our home...because I have no reserve.
I've burned all reserves up in daily life.
I've burned the candle at both ends...getting up early for a quiet devotional time followed by a workout, shower and then getting the kids up and out the door for school. I've stayed up getting all the kids in bed, attempting to have time with my husband at the end of the day and practically pass out as my head hits the pillow. And the in-between time? I've been rushed, harried and driving myself to do more more more more.
I honestly I thought I was making Him pleased by all I was accomplishing each and every day. And they ARE good things. So I was pretty surprised when I heard God tell me to SLOW DOWN.
But it truly confounded me, He was telling me to cool my jets.
In the past year, I've experienced two deep melt downs. Deep. They frightened me. I shared with a friend about them and she was warm and embracing. She had actually walked this path before and she has been advising me. She shared that God told her, "slow down or you'll be dead in a year."
YIKES!!! That was a bit alarming!
She has proven to be a fabulous guide for me in this endeavor.
My friend wrote this amazing article called Sabbath in a Fallow Field, and I strongly encourage you to read it. She shares how God instructed her to peel back 75% of her activity and merely do the 25% left.
Honestly, it totally scared me. What might be left if I were to peel back THAT MUCH of my activity??? Is it even humanly possible with 7-almost 8- kids???
I came to realize that her percentages were not necessarily mine. God is telling me to downshift my life. To do less, to slow down. To listen more, to meditate, to bring back communing prayer.
I obediently deleted Instagram and Facebook from my phone. Guess what I found? I spent that same time I used to do posting pictures and scrolling...looking at decorating ideas on Houzz.
I began to sense a problem.
My issue isn't too much activity. It's a harried heart. My spirit is trying to chase things that will not satisfy.
And guess what? Those new hours I spent on Houzz while I waited for a doctor to arrive for one of the kid's appointments...began to grow something new in me. And it wasn't pretty: discontent.
I began to look at my stuff with greedy eyes. I wanted to change things. I wanted to update things.
Again, the Sweet Spirit of the Lord spoke to me, "that is NOT what you want...you want Me."
I remember back to a time when I had a most vibrant experience with Him. I had only 3 children then and woke up at a shocking hour to pray each day for upwards of 2 hours. It was not a burden or a "have to" it was a true DELIGHT. I missed that.
I am not sure what happened, and I won't waste time trying to understand. We know we have an enemy...and he does NOT want us close to God's heart. I can say that after our son Oskar died so suddenly, our lives were radically turned upside down and we moved to our current location and began serial adopting. (Hahahaha, but you KNOW I'm calling it straight!)
I have begun to recover an inner prayer dialogue with my Savior that has been so sweet. A closeness that truly was impacted by the Ice Pillars that He hung over our house. Do ask me about this experience in person, I doubt I'll be able to do it justice in written words!! IT WAS AMAZING!!!!
I asked him to guide me in what to study during this time and here is what He has put together for me so far:
Hearing God by Dallas Willard;
Found by Micha Boyett;
A study with a group of women called Chase by Jennie Allen;
and something I've just begun this week: Comforts from the Cross by Elyse Fitzpatrick.
This has done wonders for me learning to downshift to a slower pace. I am still moving forward, yet not over scheduling, not saying yes to too many good things, not scrolling like a mad woman on my smart phone and even NOT setting goals for the New Year. I am continuing to tune my heart to my Lord and hear what it is HE wants me to do each day.
Often, I am shocked. He doesn't seem to care very much about the laundry, the dust bunnies or the clutter.
He cares about my heart.
Do you need to downshift? What will this look like for you?