Tonight, I want to write. I want to write because I need to learn from and remember. I want to write because I think maybe what I’m learning is a lifestyle shift I didn’t know I needed until I started to write it and now I’m convinced that you might need it too. I want to write because I want to be quiet, alone, and reflective, at last, deeply leaning into surrender.
And I’m beginning to wonder if maybe that is what my next season is supposed to look like. Maybe it’s time to let my iPhone go to voicemail a little more often, quit making so many plans and dates and meetings, and just sit back a little. Maybe, is it even possible that if I continue living in this drive-thru culture, I might miss exactly what I’m here for anyway? What if the me underneath it all needs to take a deep breath, stretch her legs out, and leave this on-the-go lifestyle in the dust for a while? It sounds awesome and it sounds terrifying. Like I want to sprint toward it and dart away from it all in the same breath. Because choosing to not live on-the-go might mean I miss something. It might mean that some of my colleagues learn things that I don’t. It might mean that some of my friends make monumental memories that I miss out on. And you know, it might just be exactly what I need.
For most of my twenty-six years on this planet, I’ve lived pretty on-the-go. From my earliest memories of my childhood to my most recent hours of this very day, I’ve been never-stopping, grab-food-for-the-road, hopelessly and often happily on-the-go. As a little tike, that looked like being one of four kids, in a blended happy little mess of people. I have an onslaught of memories of more than my fair share of baseball games. And basketball games. And football games. And tennis matches. And yes, even golf scrimmages. I was the baby, the only girl, the not-so athletic one, and the nature of that was ballpark after ballpark, metal bleacher after metal bleacher. It seemed like there were weeks where we had games and events every day and every night, and I rarely missed a second. Now don’t get me wrong. I certainly didn’t hate it. I would pack my toys and dolls in my beach ball bag and meet up with my friends in the dirt under those bleachers and play. And it was good for then. Somehow, amidst it all, my mother kept us fed and clothed and got us back to the ballpark the next night, on-the-go again.
When adolescence struck with all its awkward splendor, I upped the ante a notch in my personal life and had a constant stream of people that I “needed” to be with. Youth group events, movie nights, school functions, last minute trips to Waffle House... If you can name it, I didn’t want to miss it. I lived my high school years running up and down the back stairs, driving my little Nissan Sentra wherever I could convince my parents to let it take me. I remember hearing the words, “Where is she going this time?” and “Is she ever home?” more than once (a week) as I skipped out my revolving back door, ready to be on-the-go again.
I lived college like that and grad school like that and jobs like that. Go, go, go. Don’t stop. Or if you have to, don’t stop for long. “There are people you have to meet up with, events you simply can’t miss, and more more more you always need to be doing,” the voices in my head seem to chant at me. They convince me that scheduling something every hour of every day is somehow a great idea and I definitely won’t be tired at the end of it all. It’s like a warzone. Be here, do this, don’t miss that. You need more training, this friend won’t understand, one more appointment won’t be too much. And today, on the day of our Lord, July 2nd, 2014, I’m calling a truce. Actually, I’m calling it quits. Yep, I’m quitting. Despite the words of my mother in my head telling me that we never give up (Sorry, Mom!), I’m giving up. And here’s why.
I’m giving up because my quest for constant on-the-go is too good. Too perfect. Too much. I’m giving up because if I stay on-the-go, I don’t have to face what’s really going on inside of me. When I’m running from appointment to meeting and on the phone in between, I miss it. I miss everything. And then I get to the end of the day and I’m grumpy and on-edge and have so little to offer to those I love most. And I think that just won’t work for me anymore.
So I’m giving up on-the-go as a lifestyle. I’m giving up trying to do it all. I’m giving up the need to please everyone and meet more needs than I have the capacity for. I’m giving up the desire to hit up every therapy conference and answer my phone every time it rings. I’m giving up filling my calendar to the point where you have to turn it and start writing vertically. Yep. I’m doing it. Starting tonight, after a day where I fit in one too many appointments and meetings with friends and spent too little time being quiet and listening to what my soul needed. Honestly, I even heard what my soul needed at one point today and disregarded it because I was too busy to really stop and notice. See why I’ve gotta slow down?!
And you know what I’m going to do with that new space that just opened up on my calendar? I’m going to sit. I’m going to pray. I’m going to read books. I’m going to take long baths and cook yummy food. I’m going to go for walks with my husband and hang out with our 19 year old live-in child. I’m going to watch documentaries that sound interesting and find TV shows that make me gut laugh. I’m going to write and reflect and play. And I’m going to look deep into my spirit and its longings and see what feels life-giving and what feels life-draining. (Thanks, Grow Class.) Yeah, I have some responsibilities I’ll have to keep up. Maybe they’ll fall in the life-giving categories and maybe they won’t. But how will I ever know unless I make time to see what God is or isn’t doing in my heart and life? There’s a chance I could keep running on a hamster wheel forever if I never stop to look around to see what’s outside my wheel.
So that’s my vow for the second half of this year. I’m going to give on-the-go the boot and slowing down a chance. Really, I think I’m giving God a chance. A chance to speak to someone who is attempting to step off that hamster wheel and listen again for the first time in quite a while. And yes, I know as babies come and jobs change and life moves on, there will be more on-the-go days and on-the-go seasons. But I’m thinking on-the-go can be just that... A season, not a lifestyle.
So here it goes. I'm surrendering. I'm waving my white flag. And it looks curiously like the back of a ripped out sheet of my over-filled weekly planner waving high in the sky, a bold display of defiance in my on-the-go world.
Anyone want to join me?