Over the weekend, the three of us went hiking around Deception Pass State Park on Whidbey Island. For those of you who haven’t been, it’s a jaw-dropping view when you turn the corner and step out on the bridge. You realize just how small you are staring out over the water. I don’t have a fear of heights, but the drop off this bridge made me hold Isla a little tighter.
After our hike along the Goose Rock Perimeter Trail, we were tired and a little hungry. We were close to getting into our car and driving to our next destination for lunch, but then we saw the beach below the bridge and decided to head down to take a picture or two. We decided to let Isla run free on the beach. Normally, we avoid taking her out of the backpack until we are done for the day but decided to make an exception and give her a little time to burn some energy off post hike.
She ran around, rejoicing at being set free. We took our pictures and checked our watches to see if we were “on schedule” to head back to the car, our minds already moving on to the next stop on our day trip. Isla started throwing pebbles into the water, smiling and giggling at the splash. Samuel skipped rocks across the river, something he probably hasn’t done in years. Isla threw more pebbles in and clapped. Samuel skipped another rock, and she got excited.
We are so used to being run by the clock, it’s hard to turn that notion off, even on the weekends. But watching Isla laugh at the smallest splash of water, suddenly made time slow down. I took a deep breath and felt my muscles relax. The sun came out, and I slipped my jacket off, soaking up the warm rays. Why were we in a hurry? It was Saturday. We technically didn’t have anywhere we were supposed to be. Lunch could wait. And as I was thinking it, Samuel looked up at me and said, “It’s nice that Isla slows us down a little bit. We are actually getting to enjoy this.” He skipped another rock.
The Bible doesn’t say: “rush and know that I am God.” Psalms 46:10a says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” (ESV)
Be still. Go slowly. Take a breath.
Why do those commands feel so burdensome?
When I’m told to “Be Still,” I feel as if someone is tying my hands down with rope. I’m always wanting to go, go, go; do, do, do; see, see, see. I’m bad at doing anything slowly.
But ultimately when we rush through everything, we are missing out. We are missing out on God’s creations. His moments. His gifts to us.
I have a tendency to rush. And then I married a man who is almost as fast as me. Together, we are always moving, ready for the next challenge, next place, next thing. We’ve never been great at lingering anywhere.
And then we had our daughter.
Having a child slows you down. It’s just a fact. People can tell you that before you have kids, but you don’t really understand to what degree a child slows you down until you’re in the thick of getting them ready for the 2nd or 3rd time in a morning to leave the house. Everything takes longer because you’re managing them as well as yourself. There are diapers, multiple wardrobe changes, snacks, a few tantrums, strollers, more diapers, messes, car seats.
Children don’t rush. They like to meander about, picking up every little flower, rock, or wrapper that catches their attention. Attempting to be in a hurry with a child is a joke, and you’re not the one laughing.
But you know what? I believe children are meant to slow us down. It’s like God knew we would forget to slow down as adults, so he gifted us with tiny humans to remind us to slow down. As hard as it can be at times, it’s a blessing to take a step back from the nonstop rush of adult life and just be still for a moment.
Raising a child absolutely slows you down, but only if you’re doing it right.
This moment on the beach with my daughter was a little reminder. It was God’s way of telling me to slow down. Take it in. Enjoy these moments with her. Stop checking my watch every few minutes, stop checking my phone for directions.
It was a reminder of a truth I hold to, but often forget in the busyness of life: rushing is not conducive to wandering. Wandering requires an artful form of slowing down. To truly wander, I have to take it all in, absorb it, let a place infuse me with its essence.
To truly enjoy it, I have to be still.