It’s Crunch Time

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Can you feel it?  Life is running and you’re on a stroll.  You’ve got to pick up the pace, but you don’t know how.  So many things to do and not enough time to do them…

How do you keep up when you’re worn to a frazzle? 

How much is really necessary in this life? 

Sometimes I wonder if we don’t stop because we’re afraid to slow down.  If we slow down, we might have to think.  And if we think, we might start feeling uncomfortable.  So we pursue.  We’re on a mad pursuit to satisfy ourselves, others, or possibly…God.

I loved living in England.  The bookshop opened at 8am and teatime was promptly at 10.  The little restaurant downstairs baked fresh scones every morning.  You know, the Brits take their tea seriously.  It was a delight to watch the ladies choose a scone, cut it in perfect halves, then apply clotted cream and jam.  By the time the pieces were ready, the tea had steeped.  One lump or two?  Tea with cream and sugar and bite-size pieces of scumptuous scones…not at all the typical coffee break we take in the States.  Thirty minutes for dinner with more tea afterwards.  Another break  in the afternoon.  Off at four and home for supper. 

Not much good on the telly to watch.  Most evenings were spent reading, writing, thinking.

When we returned to the States, I went into culture shock.  No more teatime.  No more scones.  No more cream and sugar…one lump, or two?  America was running, but I was still on British time.  I had learned to love a slower pace.

Back in the states, I needed to teach school so Phat could pursue a seminary degree.  I went from teaching sixth grade to third, making my old plans useless.  I was starting from scratch once more.  I’m not really sure what happened next.  Did I strain my voice from talking all day?  Was I worn out from the new position?  Could it be a really bad case of culture shock?  Maybe I was allergic to the hamster in the science corner?  Whatever the cause, I lost my voice.

That was really nothing new for me.  Throughout life whenever anxiety, excitement or sickness came, I could count on losing my voice.  Right before a show, or recital, I would take special care (teatime with honey and lemon) not to overdo, or my voice would be gone.  Being tired was cause enough for it to go.  So I wasn’t too concerned until two months passed and it hadn’t cleared.  After seeing a specialist, complete silence for ten days (murder!), voice therapy for weeks thereafter, yet no improvement…I was told to take sick leave for the rest of the year or risk losing my voice forever.  I could not comprehend life without singing, so I took the leave and became a secretary. 

The frustration of leaving teaching, knowing my body could not handle the stress, realizing I was weaker than I thought, not the tough Texan I’d pretended to be…well…counseling ensued.  It was time to slow down and think.  It was time to stay off my feet, type dictation, work databases, create spreadsheets…and don’t forget to get the boss his water with a lemon twist.  Grrr!  Counseling was, indeed, necessary.

I learned quite a bit from our time (Phat went with) in counseling.  It was good to think through many issues from childhood which were affecting me as an adult.  I learned I was performance-oriented and constantly felt I wasn’t measuring up.  I realized I was searching for something to fill me up.  I was working to please God, to make Him happy with me, to get kudos from above.  If He would smile upon me, give me a hug, tell me He loved me…then…THEN…I might be able to relax.

It took many years to understand His love for me.  It took many years to quit working to earn His love.  It took MANY years to get to the place of relaxation I have found in Him today.  But I must say, now that I feel it’s “crunch time” again…I’m not going to work myself to a frazzle.  Because even if I can’t get it all done in time, He won’t be upset with me.  It’s a standard I’ve placed upon myself to try and “fill me up” when in reality, He’s already done that.  I need to rely upon Him for fulfillment and not the “work of my hands.”  I can rest and not worry about imperfections.  He is smiling and I know He loves me…no matter what.

So…

…let’s have a cup of tea, shall we?  One lump, or two?

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16 responses »

  1. Hi Michelle:) Loved this, I must say, when I first moved to england, I also lived in the north for a while, and I just couldn’t get over ‘dinner’ being lunch, I mean dinner is supper, right? Or maybe it’s just me.

    It is difficult to slow and yes maybe because much of our identity lies in what we do. And yet when we slow down long enough maybe we can start to find our identity in Him alone. And I think it is much more blessed when we can come to the point of rest in Him, relying on Him and not worry about the imperfections like you say.

    Tea? Yes please, one lump will do:)

  2. Welcome, Rain. When did you live in England, or are you still there? It was strange getting used to the different words…so many differences…at times it didn’t seem we were speaking the same language.

    The point of rest in Him…total reliance on Him instead of what we do…dependence upon Him alone for our worth…not the things we can accomplish. It’s still a struggle for me.

    Oh…and tea….I’ll put the kettle on. 😉

  3. Tea sounds lovely. I’ll take honey if you have it. Mint is my favorite. Or any blend with mint in it.

    I think you’ve aniled something here. American’s are so results oriented … and our standards of ‘success’ are so high. I sometimes feel like I don’t run on an American time schedule. I don’t feel that’s a bad thing, but I tend to irritate people who think I should be doing more. I’m not a doer … so relaxing comes a bit too easily. I have issues with laziness. Although … in a culture that doesn’t have a right relationship to work … it’s difficult to pinpoint what is actually lazy. hmmm. I need projects and deadlines two inches from my eyeballs or I don’t see them. I’ve always been this way. Mom had stories from when I could barely walk … I haven’t changed much since then.

    I feel like my fingers could chat for a long while. I’m in that mood. 🙂 But I won’t. Love you, Michaela!

  4. Let your fingers do the chatting…Hey, Annie! I love mint tea. In the summer I’ll pick mint from the yard and brew a whole pot. Lovely!

    I wish I could put my finger on it right now, but I have a quote from CS Lewis from his book, Letters to an American Lady, where he writes about this uniquely American way of living. It certainly is not like the rest of the world. I think it’s a sickness called “Affluent-za” which causes us to keep reaching for things that will not satisfy. We are trying hard to fill ourselves up with things other than our Father.

    Dependence on Him…alone.

    Love you, Sparkle!!!

  5. Oh, I loved this… and yes, sometimes I think we are all busy chasing our own tails so we don’t have to look ahead or behind us; just at the circle we create. Good reminders…

  6. Thanks, Gitz. 😉

    Burton, you’re one of the sweetest lumps I know! Well…yeah…I can say that…now that you’re grown up. Love you, Brother!

    Good question, Danielle. I think it would almost take a break from society. But then, I always did want to be Amish. I don’t actually know if I could work that hard though…the appliances make life much easier. But I do crave the simplicity of the lifestyle.

  7. That is one thing I loved about England. It didn’t feel as though life had to move at such a fast pace. My life reminds me of that insurance commercial “life comes at you fast etc etc.” and I have to remind myself that God’s desire is not for me to be stressed, over-worked, tired or anything close so I try to slow down. Quiet time with Him and praying helps me to do that.

    You know I’m a tea drinker so yes, I would love some! One lump and I loveeeeeeeeeeee scones!

    Love you Sis XO

  8. Hi Michelle, still loving you though I’ve been out of pocket.
    I have a friend who’s about to become a vicar in the Church of England. We grew up in Dallas together as Southern Baptists.
    Right now, he’s dealing with heavy snow as my daughter and I dream of a London visit.
    -Sam

  9. I loved this Michelle, I love living in the UK, and I love the tea here too 🙂 It’s so good reading about the place of rest you’ve come to with God, where you can enjoy the work He’s giving you to do without feeling any of the other pressure. I relate to that ‘performance-orientation’ thing, and like you, have found His grace to be the most freeing, amazing thing. Lots of love.

  10. I had a feeling, coming from another culture and many of those years in England, you would understand about taking time to slow down, Gch. Don’t let our American ways turn you into the Energizer Bunny. You’ll burn-out…it’s not healthy…remember to rest. I love you, Sweetie!

    Thanks, Shelly…welcome!

    I’ve wondered what’s happened to you, Sam. I do remember your mentioning him before. A trip to England…I hope to get back some day…it’s been over twenty years!!! Love you, too.

    Hey, Birg! Thanks for taking a break from the writing long enough to send love my way. I hope it’s going well for you. Do New Zealanders have tea time? I guess I assumed much of the culture was the same…? His grace is amazing. I need to spend more and more time basking in it. Heavy doses of grace are prescriptive for us “performance oriented” personalities. Love you, Birgit!

  11. No tea – how about a hot chocolate? Can an old man join this party?

    I am slowing down – some is age, but I am finding how to rid myself of the pressure of life as well.

  12. Two please… thank you. 🙂

    Ah, it is the one thing I dread the most when making trips to the U.S. = rush, hurry, no time, c’mon, hustle and bustle,… We call it drinking from a fire hose. I know you understand.

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