Desire without knowledge is not good—
how much more will hasty feet miss the way!
The young girl is 11 years of age. She sits on her suitcase on the side of the road. Where is she going? Anywhere but here is how she would answer. She is looking down and doesn’t notice the flowers behind her, nor the blue sky and the hills that surround her. Why is she alone? She has friends and family waiting for her at home. She doesn’t think her friends care much about her. She wishes she was older, wiser and prettier. She is locked inside a world where everyone is better than her – Instagram has made this evident to her. She doesn’t like the path she is on, so she is searching for a new one.
This is the scenario I imagine when I look at the girl in this picture. Yeah, I know, my imagination goes a bit dark rather than seeing the bright side of things. But this scenario describes me for most of my life, and pictures have a tendency to project what we experience in life. I have always wanted to be on a different journey – not the one I was on. I was in a rush, bumping into people and saying sorry and moving on, fluttering here and there and everywhere. I was that girl looking down in the middle of a beautiful field.
On my 40th birthday I woke up depressed. I had been married for five years but was still childless. Money was tight and the thought of buying a home seemed impossible. I kept thinking, “I should be further along in my life than I am right now.” Everyone around me seemed to be getting pregnant, buying houses and settling into the life I thought I needed. The one I had to have.
Only five months later my husband and I waited in a hotel restaurant in Nanchang, China for the orphanage director to bring us our 16-month-old baby from a Chinese orphanage. My world slowed down, and a lifetime was lived within those few seconds, when she was placed in my arms and I became a mother. Those seconds are now 22 years later, and it is etched in my mind as one of the greatest defining moments of my life. This was a day in my life when I embraced the journey God had placed me on.
I would like to say that from that point on I stopped rushing the moments in my life. But I didn’t. We bought a house one year later, and for the next four years I stared at the linoleum on the kitchen floor, the popcorn ceilings, the metal sliding door that wouldn’t open without shoving it, and I longed for the day we could renovate the house. Our daughter, Lian, was morphing and changing and reaching all kinds of milestones. Though I took time to glance and marvel at these moments, I continued to move at gale force as I tried very hard to keep up with my new career in Information Technology.
This isn’t the whole story of who I am. Yes, I have spent countless hours over the years sitting on my living room couch reading my Bible and crying out to God to help me with this or that. And God did reveal himself to me time and time again. But I wasn’t always listening. Now that I am 62 years of age, I look back and realize I tend to rush the journey.
Present day: I live in Medford, Oregon, divorced and my beautiful 23-year-old daughter lives with me as she attends Southern Oregon University and works at Pier 1. I’m still working in Information Technology, but remotely for a California bank. I don’t have to rush out of the house and get on a California freeway, park the car in a garage that is a mile away from my desk and log into the network while wishing for that cup of coffee I didn’t have time to buy.
God has blessed me with a wonderful church family and friends that care deeply about each other. I look out my window and see the Oregon mountains and evergreens in the distance and Roxy Ann Peak at the end of the road to my right. As I drive through town, I see views of the valley speckled with vineyards, cows, horses, pigs and goats. I often walk a path near my home that runs parallel to the valley below where a span of 20 miles can easily be seen at a single glance. God has brought me to a place that prompts me to slow down. A place where it is awkward to honk your horn or be in a rush. A place where nature trumps over things and stuff.
I must admit I don’t think I deserve this place. God has given me this moment in time where I have a second chance to listen to what my daughter has to say and be present when she shows me something on her iPhone about some social injustice that has occurred. God has given me a second chance to be aware of what she is feeling and be more concerned about her heart. God has given me the opportunity to be ok with being uninteresting. What am I going to be when I grow up? My answer is what I have become right now, in this moment. Yes, my personality thinks I should be changing the world and being fantastic, but all God wants is my heart. I’m listening to God and He is telling me, “Don’t rush the journey.”
Let’s go back to the feature picture of this blog. I wish this young girl sitting on the suitcase would hear the words of wisdom spoken by Solomon in Ecclesiastes 11:9-10:
You who are young, be happy while you are young,
and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth.
Follow the ways of your heart
and whatever your eyes see,
but know that for all these things
God will bring you into judgment.
10 So then, banish anxiety from your heart
and cast off the troubles of your body,
for youth and vigor are meaningless.
When we are rushing, are we really trusting God in those moments? This is my goal in 2020: To not rush conversations or move too quickly or think too much about the future. I want to be living in the here and now. I want to hear the voice of God in my daily quiet times. Yes, this is not my natural tendency, but I’m not rushing this journey anymore. And if I do, please remind me of this blog post. ?
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.[a]