Friday, March 3, 2017

Slow is Okay

Confession time: I struggle with slow. Not the slow of others, but my own innate need to move slowly.  For a long time, I counted my propensity for detail and consideration to be a failing. I would try to pile on more expectations to amp up the energy needed to complete a task, but my internal speedometer wouldn't budge. It kept me at a steady 35-45 mph and if pushed to 50, I would bottom out, burnt and exhausted.

I chastised myself. Why I couldn't push through the pain? Why did fast-paced work and high demands send me into anxiety and emotional lock down? Everyone else was able to pull ahead, buckle down and get the work done, but I crashed. What was wrong with me?

It's taken me 5 years, multiple jobs, miscellaneous counseling sessions and a lot of teary prayers to finally realize I am a single-tasker. I like to hone in on a task, analyze how I can do that thing well and then execute it with great focus and effort. Now, this is not to say I can't have multiple things going at a time. I just need to be confidently capable in achieving the expectations that go along with them.

But with new challenges or ideas, I like to sit with them and really hash out the details, understand the how and why. This probably has a lot to do with my desire to not make a mistake or be seen as a fool. (Thanks, Disgust.) Yet, even so, slow and steady is my natural state of mind. I get overwhelmed easily if there are too many people or a long list of tasks to be completed in a short amount of time. Too many events on my calendar make my breath short and constrained. I need space to breathe, to move and to create. So why did I ever think healing would be an instantaneous thing?

When I say healing, I don't mean physically. Logically, a broken bone or rendered skin needs time and TLC to heal; you can't rush a broken bone. Supplements and medication can help ease the process but the body operates on its own time schedule. Emotional and spiritual pain is harder to justify the slow process.

In my previous post, I discussed how I can get anxious with fear over not doing something right. I'm a recovering perfectionist and approval seeker, but even writing "recovering" makes me want to chastise myself for not being "recovered."

"Get over it and move on," screams Disgust.

"You're too emotional," says an outside critic.

"Just trust in the Lord," soothes another.

I end up with hands over my ears, running away to the dark recesses of my bedroom so I can hide under the covers. (Hello, Sadness. Can I stay here a while?) I'm left hurting, confused and back to asking myself, "What's wrong with me? Why can't I move on like everyone else? Why can't I get passed this fear?"

That's when I hear this whispered, low and soft: "Slow isn't wrong."

My ears perk up and I pop up from under the covers. "What?"

"Slow isn't wrong," the Voice repeats. "It's not bad or behind schedule. It's not a disability or a failing. Slow is okay."

I sink back into the pillows and let those words soothe away the ache of old wounds and drown out those old lies. Slow is okay.

As the old adage goes, "Rome wasn't built in a day," so too, we do not overcome obstacles in a single bound. We face them every day and we make a choice. One step is enough. None is okay, too. Nothing has to be "fixed" instantly, though we often want this to be so. Facing the pain and leaning into heartache or fear isn't something to accomplished in a day. The matters of the heart and soul are not time sensitive nor do they require deadlines. Healing is different for every person and the Great Physician knows the best care.

So remember. You don't have to rush. You don't have to worry. Slow is okay.

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