Have you ever felt like the older you get or the more you go to school or the more you try to understand people, the less you understand? Do you miss the days when you thought you understood it all? I know I do. But I have come to this place in my life when I realize that there is so much in life that I do not understand. In fact, the more I learn, the less I feel I know. The more I read, the more questions about life I have. The more I work with people, the less I understand about humanity.
This lack of understanding used to drive me nuts. I used to feel like I needed to understand everything and have all the answers and I didn’t. I found relief in a scripture from Isaiah 55:8 which states, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.” This scripture gave me permission to be okay with this sense of not understanding. Ironically, it was a piece of paper that I found left behind in a photocopy machine one day that made me understand, that this lack of understanding was actually a sign of growth. It said “NOTICE! We have not succeeded in solving all your problems. The answers we have found only serve to raise a whole set of new questions. In some ways, we feel we are as confused as ever, but we believe we are confused on a higher level and about more important things.”
Lately, it seems like I have been learning a lot about understanding. As I have been talking with friends about overflowing plates and schedules that seem jam packed, I was reminded of a very important lesson – sometimes we have to stop so that we can go. Everything has to stop so that it can keep going. Stopping, contrary to popular thinking is actually a good thing. There are some things that most of us are good at stopping before we go again. Most of us stop at stoplights and stop signs, although there are always those that run them from time to time. Trains stop at stations before reaching their final destination. Planes stop at the end of the runway before taking off. Many things in life stop before going.
It seems like as people, we are the ones that struggle with the importance of stopping. Whenever anyone asks my wife Zoe what I am doing, she is says working. She says I am always busy. That is usually true between reading, writing, grading, cooking, and cleaning, I return phone calls, emails, make trips to the refrigerator for more water, and have conversations with Zoe. There are moments in my life when I tell Zoe I would just love to do nothing. No thing. Then she looks at me, laughs, and tells me I should and I deserve it but that it is not something I do well.
She is right. I don’t. It was in a conversation I had with her recently that I came to realize that I have to stop so that I can go. I have to practice what I preach and claim my Sabbath moments. I have to remember to stop, to rest, to pause and do no thing. It means I have to claim that time where I just allow myself to be, time where I do not think. Time where I do not move. Time where I am not making 17 zillion decisions. Time when I can just be at one with the Spirit and not feel guilty about it.
Wouldn’t it be nice if stopping ourselves was as easy as stopping a machine? Wouldn’t it be nice if we came with a pause button? You can press the pause button on a video game and things stop. The sound stops, the movement stops, the pictures stop. Everything stops. Wouldn’t it be nice if we came equipped with pause buttons?
I was rereading the creation story the other day and I was reminded that at the end of each day God stopped. Maybe we need to be more like God and press our pause buttons. Anybody want to join me in committing to pressing their pause buttons, stopping and gathering strength? How much ugliness in the world could be avoided if we stopped before we spoke? How many conflicts could be avoided if we stopped whenever we were hungry, angry, lonely, or tired? Anybody want to join me in remembering to press our pause buttons before we drive into collision situations in our lives.
I don’t know about you, but one of the reasons I keep going at times is so that I can get caught up. What I came to understand though is that it is when I hit the pause button that I am most able to get caught up. See when I hit the pause button in my life; it is not that nothing is happening. When I hit the pause button in my life, I get to be present with the Spirit and with life. When I hit the pause button in my life, I get to be present in a conversation with God and get caught up on some of the most important things in life like who God is calling me to become and what God is calling me to do.
So whether you are living life in fast forward or in reverse, don’t forget to stop. Press the pause button in your life periodically and as my grandmother used to say take time to smell the roses. So starting today, remember to press your pause button.