Tuesday, May 5, 2015


On Tuesdays I've been writing about Practicing Pauses - last week we discussed being truly still. This week, why it can be hard to slow down and take things one at a time.

A recent journaling exercise had me write through how I did things as a child. One trait that surfaced was my tendency to wholly immerse myself in whatever I was doing, focusing on a single thing instead of multi-tasking.

I practically never just do one thing at a time anymore - I'm almost always alternating between multiple tasks, sometimes perforce (reading a book aloud to Brooklyn while tending to Tobin) but often simply out of habit. Realizing that I didn't used to function that way made me curious as to why I do it now.

Plenty. When I was a child, I wasn't worried about time. I could give my full attention to a project because if it took all day and I didn't get to something else as a result, then there was always tomorrow. Scarcity - the fear of running out - is what causes me to multi-task now.

But for all of my frantic effort, I always seem to be running behind. When I try to do five things at once, I end the day with five half-completed things, whereas if I had done them one at a time I would have at least had one or two completed things, if not the entire list. Worse, it is rooted in an unspoken disbelief - not a healthy recognition that putting things off may mean them never getting done (procrastination), but an unhealthy terror that if I don't do it, it won't get done.

It also causes me to only half-enjoy things that I want to do because I assume that I won't be allowed to complete them - glumly laying an ambush for joy, then wearily watching it go by without even trying to stop it. I run around in a desperate tizzy, trampling over the journey in my mad dash for a destination that I never reach because for all of the energy I'm pouring out not a whole lot of progress is really being made.

Last week I wrote about being still - full-stop-truly-still in the presence of God and recognizing His presence, His peace, and His sovereignty. When I catch myself trying to do too much at once, I need to pause - to lay everything at His feet, literally and figuratively, and recognize that if something goes undone until tomorrow and tomorrow never comes, it must not have been that important anyway, and that He is a good God who gives good gifts and doesn't tease or taunt us with things only to snatch them away as soon as we reach for them. Nothing lasts - the good or the bad - but His mercy is renewed every morning, with each day bringing fresh opportunities to trust in Him.

It will take practice (there's that word again...) but I'd like to learn, after I've laid it all down, to only pick up one thing at a time - whether that's unloading the dishwasher or reading a book - and embrace the time I'm given, moment by moment.

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