This year has been one for the history books, obviously. It has demanded much from us, taken much from us, and kicked us while we’re down. If I take a step back from it, I can see how it offered some invitations as well.
Mostly the past year has offered an invitation, a forceful one, to slow down. Life came to a screeching halt almost exactly a year ago; our social calendars were wiped clean and even our careers changed drastically. The busyness we had grown accustomed to was suddenly impossible to maintain and we had to come face to face with the reasons we fill our schedules. Anyone else? Anyone else learning that they don’t actually like having all their evenings and weekends filled with plans? That having less social commitments is not only ok, but sort of enjoyable? Just me?
Don’t get me wrong, I will welcome back concerts and events and parties and weddings with the most open arms. But I am recognizing this invitation to really eliminate excess and focus on the essentials has been really, really good for me. In normal life, I am always exercising my “no” muscle and now I just don’t even have to as much.
In the slowness I feel like we have established a really sweet rhythm in our home, that isn’t stretched or complicated or hard to manage. We aren’t constantly maintaining an overbooked calendar or compromising on who’s invitations we will turn down and who’s we will accept–the invitations just aren’t really there and it’s fine.
I wish I had granted myself the permission to live this kind of slow when I was younger. I wish as a high schooler I had chosen to stay home sometimes instead of always feeling like I needed to go to everything. I wish in college I had set up better rhythms and practices instead of seeking the most spontaneity. I heard a song recently say, “Used to have fun now we only get together” and it felt incredibly relatable. But something about it wasn’t overly depressing, it is just the truth.
Part of this I think is just getting older. As the years pass, less opinions matter and more things come into focus. It is like it takes us 30 years to really figure out our prescription for seeing life and ourselves accurately. My Mom and I had a conversation about what it looks like and means to live wholeheartedly. To be wholly focused on Jesus and not consumed by what others think of us or trying to please everyone. We talked through how we learn that and came to the realization that maybe it is just something we all have to walk through, we all have to learn it on our own. I can tell twenty-somethings all day that no one else’s opinions matter, that the mean words their Mom or roommate or boyfriend said shouldn’t take up residence in their brain, but they have to walk it themselves. We all have to adjust the prescription with the Lord until we learn to see clearly. Not that I have entirely figured this out, but something about being 31 in the middle of a pandemic just gets you pretty close. There are just so few opinions that actually matter to me anymore. Partially, I thank freeing myself from the chains of social media for that freedom. I’m not carrying around hundreds of “followers” or “friends” thoughts or opinions anymore.
Mom and I are doing Beth Moore’s new Bible study on the book of Galatians. In Galatians 1:10, Paul says, “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” This inspired our conversation of how we grow and learn not to let other’s thoughts or opinions of us determine the way we live, the choices we make, the people we become.
In this season of slowness, I’d encourage you to consider what tapes are playing in your head, who’s opinion maybe matters to you too much, and what it might look like to work towards living wholeheartedly as a child of God. The reality of being a Christ follower is that you just don’t get to be that popular with the world. The good news is, we all experienced middle school: being popular isn’t actually that great. Maybe this is a great season for you to start working more proactively on that prescription and ask the Lord to really adjust how you view yourself, others, and Him.