There are enough projects in our house to keep us busy for at least the next five years. I am blinded to the real beauty of our home.
I see the outdated, orange oak kitchen cabinets, all the worn-out gold brassy knobs and fixtures, the carpets I dream of being wood floors one day, and the closets without shelves- our clothes still piled high on the floor.
I constantly ask myself- why can’t I be content with what I have and enjoy our home? Because it’s not finished yet. We still have a long way to go before it will be what I have envisioned in my mind.
My husband reminds me regularly to be grateful for this place we call our own, to not worry about ripping out the cabinets, re-doing all the bathrooms, or tearing up the carpets quite yet, to be patient. After all, we have three little ones to tend too, bills to pay off, and people to invite for dinner. He is comfortable with a slow-paced renovation.
If I had it my way, there would be daily visits to Home Depot and we’d be tackling all the projects on my list right now- one per week at least. It’s been six months and besides a rug, table, and couches, the changes are hardly noticeable to me. I dream of an HGTV version of our home remodel, where all the projects are completed in the length of one episode, in no more than an hour please.
Since moving here, I’ve noticed the impatience deeply imbedded within my soul. I’m not sure exactly how it got there, perhaps through years of despising the slowness I see in others, in me, and in God.
What’s not to love about a God who serves up our dreams on a silver platter or changes us magically overnight? A God who at the flip of a switch or a snap of his fingers can redeem situations and transform whole communities.
People who are hard-working and efficient, who get to the point and don’t waste time also catch my eye. It goes without saying, I value these same qualities in myself- driven, dedicated to moving forward, and making things happen.
I am easily frustrated with my children and my husband when they are not running at my frantic pace. You should hear me on the mornings when we all need to be out the door at 9 am. I sound like an army officer barking commands. The theme song of my life should be, “I like to move it, move it, I like to moooove it!”
Last week I heard my son tell his sister on our leisurely walk through the neighborhood, “Hurry up Zoe, we can’t waste time.”
At first, I smiled, oh he sounds just like me, he’s finally learning the importance of moving quickly. Then the sadness crushed me, oh he sounds just like his mama, afraid to slow down.
For years, my prayers have revolved around this plea from my broken heart, “God please change me and heal me.” With each year that passes I grow frustrated because I still feel like the same person. Hurry up God. Aren’t you wasting time? I don’t see any noticeable changes, no tangible proof that my heart is any different.
I am obsessed with quick change, otherwise it’s difficult for me to look at and even live with myself.
We treat our relationship with the Lord like a drive-thru sometimes.
Good Morning God,
I’d like one new heart.
A mouth filled with only gentle words.
I don’t want to think one negative thought.
I’d like joy and grace to come gushing out of me.
Take away my constant struggles.
Save me from my unhealthy habits and hang-ups.
Remove the selfish desires that want to rule over me and make me a blessing to others.
Please Lord, can you do all that today?
THE GIFT OF SLOW HEALING
How come God doesn’t hear our well-meaning requests for instant healing? Don’t get me wrong I’ve witnessed Him heal people with one powerful, timely word. But even then, he doesn’t take our humanity away.
“One of life’s great lessons is that we cannot fix ourselves.” Leanna Tankersley
God may decide to do a dramatic HGTV-like remodel on our soul in one day, but he also places us in a constant state of recovery, giving us the gift of slow healing.
I’ve never seen slowness as a gift. I’d rather serve a God who comes to me fresh out of Home Depot, nails, wood, and hammer in hand, and a list of the projects He’s going to complete in me. I want a fast-paced, highly efficient God. I want Him to fix me up and improve me.
I am hopelessly obsessed with reforming my own soul.
God walks slowly through my life at a pace that is sometimes painful for me to watch. He gently sands down rough edges, taking time to make them soft and smooth. He paints layer upon layer of primer, waiting days, dare I say years after each coat. He smiles at His handiwork. He takes time to build a strong relationship with us as a person, and doesn’t ever consider us His special project.
Of course there are walls to be taken out and shelves to be put in, hearts to rearranged and bodies to be mended, but God does it all quietly without hurry. While I stand by, arms crossed, tapping my feet on the floor.
His strength is evident in the way He restrains His speed and power, and instead moves at a pace we know not of. This is the pace of God.
Slow healing is an opportunity to meet God intimately and grow continually in our love for Him, to humbly stop striving to free, fix, or save ourselves (or anyone else). Slow healing is God’s way to help us see ourselves from His perspective, whether it takes a thousand years or one day (2 Peter 3:8), we are always beautiful to Him. (Jeremiah 31:3)
A nineteenth-century writer, Federick Faber wrote:
“In the spiritual life God chooses to try our patience first of all by his slowness. He is slow: we are swift and precipitate. It is because we are but for a time, and He has been for eternity….There is something greatly overawing in the extreme slowness of God. Let it overshadow our souls, but let it not disquiet them. We must wait for God, long, meekly, in the wind and wet, in the thunder and lightning, in the cold and dark. Wait, and He will come. He never comes to those who do not wait. He does not go their road. When He comes, go with Him, but go slowly, fall a little behind; when he quickens His pace, be sure of it, before you quicken yours. But when He slackens, slacken at once: and do not be slow only, but silent, very silent, for He is God.” taken from Soul Keeping by John Ortberg
I am steeping myself in slowness, adorning the walls of my home and heart with grace and patience instead of quick fixes, giving time for God to do His healing work of transformation in me and those in my midst, and stretching my roots down deep into the rich soil of God’s love.
I am learning to take delight in this unhurried adventure, where God is teaching me to amble along the trails sucking in big gulps of life, to find my true strength in slowness, instead of my ability to get things done quickly.
I’d love to hear how God is encouraging you to move at a slower pace? In what areas are you tempted to surpass Him with your own strength and speed?
“Slow down, take a deep breath. What’s the hurry? Why wear yourself out? Just what are you after anyway?” Jeremiah 2:25
If you need the reminder to embrace a new pace in this adventure check out the 52-Week Travel Journal or the 40 Days of Love Letters journal in the Shop, both tools I created (and use myself!) to stay in step with Jesus and His perfect timing!