The Diligent Intentionality of Slow Feet

I had coffee with a dear friend a couple of days ago and we shared about our walks with the Lord. We both discussed specific areas where we wanted to see growth, especially in recognizing His presence through the day and in being more attentive to the Holy Spirit’s nudges. Jan Johnson in Abundant Simplicity says, “Simplicity with time requires the diligent intentionality of creating enough space that I may say yes to God about treasuring God and loving people.”

Just before meeting my friend I had to stop at my church. This was an extra trip made necessary because I accidentally picked up a plastic bag that I thought was mine and did not realize my mistake until I got home. The extra trip had me agitated, my plan for the day already had too many things to do. On my drive there I told the Lord I was frustrated because it seems no matter how hard I try not to be busy, my time always shrinks because of extra things to do. And then I told Satan that my God is not a God of chaos but One of peace. I spoke out loudly against my busyness.

When I got to church my pastor greeted me and asked me how I was. I told him I was overwhelmed even though my life is quieter. My mind keeps racing with a never-ending list of things to do. He said one word, “focus,” and spoke of the importance of being present to what I am doing in the moment. I left church feeling settled, our conversation brought me back to Johnson’s words regarding the diligent intentionality of creating enough space…”

I have a lot I want to get done, but I can choose how I go about it. I can either race from one thing to another or I can slow down and be present focusing on one thing at a time. I am working at learning to focus at one thing at a time, but am obviously still struggling with it. Focus.

In Abundant Simplicity, Johnson suggests doing a “heart exam” asking yourself, “[what’s] running me?” Such a good question. Often the things that keep me racing through my day feeling overwhelmed and frustrated come down to my need to people please and to earn love. And I have mentioned that I realize I don’t get what I need from these measures, but I seem to be stuck in a habit of living this way. It is a bad habit that I am trying hard to change.

Johnson also suggest checking with the Lord about what He is calling us to do, with the emphasis being on loving Him and letting His love for me overflow to others. This definitely means a change in focus for me. Instead of focusing on my agenda, checking off the items to do, it means a constant checking in with God. How am I living out love in what I am doing? And it is an excellent reminder to help me really abide.

A few years ago I was at a women’s retreat. One afternoon we had a couple of hours of free time, so I decided to take a walk by the beach. There were lots of rock, and I love rocks! I am always trying to find one with special significance for the moment. So as I walked along this rocky path I talked with the Lord about what He wanted me to do, how I should move forward in life living out my mission. I also prayed that He would give me a special rock. I listened as I hunted. He seemed to tell me to have “slow feet.” I wrote this in my little notebook along with other snippets from the Spirit’s lead. I picked up a small rock that satisfied my desire and headed back to the retreat center. As I continued to walk there along the side of the path there was a rock that caught my attention, not because I was hunting but because it was the rock the Lord had for me. It is in the perfect shape of a foot (see featured image). So incredibly amazing is our God!

Proverbs 19:2 says, “One who moves too hurriedly misses the way.” The Lord wants me to have slow feet so that I don’t miss the way. He wants me to walk with diligent intentionality. I have circled back to those words “slow feet” often in the past few years. But it seems I always get caught up in the hurry of life. This time I am choosing diligent intentionality for the longterm future. It will definitely take focus!

Johnson suggests the importance of having margin in our days. She uses the example of Jesus. Jesus was constantly interrupted, and He allowed those interruptions to become times of blessing others. He made Himself available to the needs of others. He didn’t grumble that He had too much to do when someone begged to be healed or asked Him to meet a different need.

Johnson suggests that we need margin in our days. Time to breathe in between activities. Time for reflection and prayer. She says, [a] life of sabbath, pauses, and margin creates a stillness inside us that infuses each thought and conversation.” We need “whitespace” both in our lives and on our calendars. Making this happen may require that we set some boundaries. Johnson defines a boundary as “a practical statement of intentionality.” 

I am realizing, especially in my people pleasing, that I need to set boundaries. First, asking myself why I am saying “yes” to this as I consider it in my mind. Then, also making sure that I do not answer in a hurry, but instead taking time to prayerfully think about it. What will it require of me and my time? What will I have to give up in order to do it?

Just this morning I saw an opportunity online to learn Hebrew, and I thought about how much I would like to do it, I went to the page to sign up and I stopped. What am I doing? I had to remind myself that I cannot do everything. I can’t be in this writing group, and learn how to quilt with this group, and learn Hebrew online and keep adding more and more things. I closed the page that offered the class, and although, I’ll admit, I felt disappointed because it is something I would like to do, I realized cannot do it right now. It was acting on impulse, not walking with slow feet, not walking with diligent intentionality.

I am choosing to recalibrate my life with the diligent intentionality of slow feet. I will be sharing more of this process in future blogs. It is a process that takes time to learn, but I am determined to seek His way.

How about you, how are you being diligently intentional with your time?

 

 

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Necessary Changes

Christmas is over. And now the New Year is nearly upon us again. I have been thinking about the changes I need to make in 2019 for about the past six weeks. My phrase for the new year is “Recalibrate Life.” I want more whitespace in my days and on my calendar, and that won’t happen without focus and intention.

It seems second nature to me to want to “do.” I choose to be busy every moment. I rescue and respond. I plan and press on. So, in order to create more whitespace, I need to evaluate my choices more closely.

I especially need to consider why I am choosing to do the things I choose. Because for me it is often about earning love, even though I make it look like I am giving. But, in reality, it all leaves me resentful and exhausted.

So what do I need to change? I need to give serious thought to what is life-giving. Pushing and pressing-on constantly are not life-giving, instead they are sucking life right out of me.

Creating whitespace does not mean emptying time for staring into space and being bored. Instead for me it means taking time to breathe, to breathe deeply, to be present in the moments of life. I need to slow down and enjoy the “living of” and “being in” life.

You know, like the slow chat I had with a friend as we watercolored in our journals and had lunch in a local coffee shop. Moments like that where time slows and you are only attentive to what matters. In this case it was sharing with my friend and brushing colored water across my journal pages.

I am realizing in order to have more of those moments I need to expect less of me. It will not happen if I have 20 to-do’s on my daily planning page. It won’t happen if my mind is racing and I am buried in “being responsible” for everyone and everything. So I have to say “no” more. I think, in reality, for me that means telling myself I can’t do it all. I have to slice out the unneccesary and intentionally focus on the essential.

I need to ask for help more and let go of so many expectations. It means less proving and looking for acknowledgment.

Life-giving moments of whitespace will be ones that are about creating, enjoying, breathing, and playing. Those moments need to be tucked in all of life. In solitude and in time I share with the Lord and with loved ones.

I am realizing too much of life has been about the end result, the accomplishing the end goal. And in being so hyper-focused on that, I have missed the actual moments of living and loving this gift of life the Lord has given me.

Along with these, I will be focusing on knowing God as my Provider, the One Who knows and sees my needs. A big part of this will be an intentional study of rest, space, simplicity, and Sabbath. I have made a list of books I want to read in 2019, just one book a month. I want want to really take it all to heart and live out their practices in my day-to-day life.

Learning about rest, space, simplicity, and Sabbath will naturally lead me to know the Lord more as my Provider. Just as choosing to abandon outcomes teaches me of His Sovereignty, learning to trust Him with my time will help me me see His prevision and provision for me. He holds my time. He has a plan. He is in control. He is responsible. Trust.

Trusting more, and learning more about trust will be key as I walk through this new year of recalibrating life.

What about you? Are you contemplating any necessary changes for 2019 in your life?