I shopped at Costco recently, and I realized, “I’m casually browsing.”
I don’t remember the last time I casually browsed anywhere. Most of my shopping expeditions are like ninja missions, “You have eight minutes. GO!”
This is one of the by-products of reclaiming my life.
It began a few months ago when I made the decision to step out of one of my roles at work. It was a tough choice, but one made from a place of humility: I was simply doing too much.
I felt called to slow my life to a walking pace.
In the months since it feels like my soul suddenly has space to breathe. You know that feeling after a big meal when you go switch into your elastic waistband pants? That feeling.
I’m finding margin in my life again. It feels good, for the most part. But it’s not without its challenges.
See, I’m used to running through life. So this invitation to walk, while inviting, is foreign. Walking is easier, and more sustainable, but I am not very good at it.
I know how to run. During my brief stint as an actual runner, I remember the challenge of faster, farther. No matter how hard a run was, the minute I finished my first thought was, “I bet tomorrow I could improve.”
It’s addictive, that kind of living.
Faster. Farther. More. Better. Longer. Squeezing every ounce of life out of every day, pushing the edges of our capacity, filling the margins until there’s no white space. After a while, we don’t know what it looks like not to run.
So in this process of learning to slow down, I’m finding I need to wrestle with two parts of me: my body, and my mind.
My body simply isn’t accustomed to breathing space. Just because your body slows down it doesn’t mean your heart rate does. In other words, just because you make space on the outside doesn’t mean your heart and soul know how to be still on the inside.
In this slower pace, I’m aware of how amped up my body can get. What used to feel like energy I realize now was anxiety, my body gearing up for a fight. I’m relearning how to breathe regularly, to notice when my body tenses involuntarily. Yoga helps.
And then there’s the mental battle. I find myself thinking, “But I could do more. Look! Open space in my schedule. I should fill it.”
It’s all fueled by deeper voices.
Some of those voices say, “See? I knew you couldn’t hack it. You’re just average.” Others say, “But people need you.” And still others, “They’ll be so disappointed.” And the worst for me, “Lazy bum.” The voices whisper that running is better. Faster. Farther. More.
The voices are wrong.
I recently read Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist, which in many ways gave me the courage to move this direction. In it, she says, “I’m going to find a new way of living that allows for rest, as much as I need, not just enough to get me through without tears, but enough to feel alive and whole, grounded and gracious.”
This is what I hope walking through life will do for me-I will feel wholly alive, grounded and gracious.
I want to walk at a pace that allows me to keep time with the slowest person in my life. Lingering with, resting alongside, listening to, and seeing others. I have a suspicion that the more I do, the more grace I will give the person inside me who needs to be slow, weak, needy.
Walking helps me love.It’s hard to love well when we’re running through life. I might wave as I pass you by, but I can’t be fully present. My hope is that as I rest, so can you. As I live in the space God has given me, not striving ahead or pushing the edges, I hope my life gives freedom to others to do the same.
I’m not there yet. Living an unhurried life is a battle in this world. But I’m encouraged by the ways I already feel more available and present for the people and passions that hold my heart.
So feel free to ask me how my walking is going, or pull me aside when you see my pace start to pick up too much. It’s a journey. I’d love for you to join me.