This week I received my first speeding ticket. I didn’t realize I was speeding, but suddenly the officer was behind me, flashing his accusatory lights while I began praying I had a light out. When he reached my window, the panic set in and I was like a robot, unable to say anything other than sorry while I fumbled for all my information.
I had just left a park where I was scouting a location for my next Bible study. I stayed with traffic, not watching my speed and thinking about getting to work and the never ending list of things on my to do list.
Recently I’ve been paying more attention to my speed, not because I planned to slow down, but it occurred to me I was probably on the verge of a ticket. When driving the same road post ticket, I felt like I was crawling to my destination as I obeyed the posted law.
Go go go is the voice in my head, urging me past the other vehicles.
Today I went out for a run, but my legs gave up before I made it a half mile. Frustrated, I tried again, confused because I had done this same thing the past two days without issue. A second time my body just stopped.
Instantly I began my attack. What’s wrong with you, Chelsea? It’s not hard. Why can’t you do this? Why can’t you finish anything? Get it together. Be better. Push harder.
And then I looked up.
I realized it was a beautiful morning. The birds were chirping and people were beginning their days. The houses on the street were old and ornate. I had run down this road the last two days, but I didn’t look up to notice. I just kept pushing pushing pushing
It was in this moment I heard God. His words weren’t spoken aloud, but I felt them in my heart.
You need to stop.
Even when I’m lying down, I’m in a constant state of rushing. Everything I need to do and want to happen is swirling in my brain, rarely allowing for peace. The end of the day is a reminder of all the things I have left to do that I’ll add to tomorrow’s list.
Amidst this chaos, I find myself wishing to fast forward past this phase. I want my life to be like a movie trailer. I want to see all the good parts, stumble over the darkness and then emerge victorious as the end to the beat of a catchy song. I don’t want the day to day monotony that I have to drag myself through. But I do, always wishing for that happy ending.
I want to make money fast to get out of debt. I want to find my calling fast so I can stop fumbling around. I want to meet my husband fast so I can stop being alone. I want my life to happen fast because this slow track I’m on is crushing my soul.
Because everything is slow, I try to push faster. If I keep going, it won’t catch me. I don’t want to be here now, I want to be there, dreaming about a time where I’m not always tired and always working and always busy. Say yes to this, this and this and don’t you dare stop.
You need to stop.
Part of me tries to argue with God. Sorry, but You know my schedule. If I stop, I don’t make money. I can’t pay my bills. I can’t pay my rent. I have to keep going, God. My schedule demands it. I have things to do and accomplish and if I breathe, I might miss something. Together we picture my planner and I aggressively point out the level of busy I need to maintain and look away when He reminds me He has the small job of maintaining everyone and everything.
I didn’t try to start running again. When I hit my standard turnaround point, I kept going. I didn’t have a plan. I just knew I had to keep walking. I started to think of everything I had to do today. How I was going to spend my morning. And God just kept saying stop stop stop
Instead of worrying about getting back or checking my pace, I just wandered for a few miles until I found my way back home. I sat down to read my Bible and jump into the list I graciously set aside so God could distract me, only to be disrupted once more. It was my wonderful sister and nieces coming to pick me up for brunch.
Most people would feel this was a kind gesture, but for me it was torture. I had so much to do! I just can’t leave. I’m in the middle of reading my Bible. I have to check my email. I have to send some emails. Why doesn’t anyone appreciate how valuable my time is!
You need to stop.
I’m always running and pushing and speeding to the next thing. What does ‘experience the moment’ even mean? My moments are spent mentally preparing the next part of my schedule. I’m focused on when something ends so I know how much time I have to be here before I have to be somewhere else. How much time is left until I can go home and sleep. How much time until I have to wake up.
I tell myself hustling is the way to prove myself to God. Maybe if He sees how hard I’m working, I can rest. Maybe that rest won’t come before Heaven, but I can earn it. Maybe He will give me what I want if He sees how hard I’m trying. Yes. Just keep pushing and your Heavenly Father will give you rest and what you want because you deserve it.
I write that, and I hear His plea for me echoing in my soul. I don’t deserve anything and I can’t earn anything. Why do I keep trying? He wants me to stop and I want to go to prove myself as worthy. He wants me still and I worry I’ll get stuck.
I’m like a child running to my parents, desperate to get to them, and while I hear the words that I need to slow down, I think I can handle the speed. That’s when I fall. That’s when I fall every single time.
You need to stop.
Running is a popular image in the Bible. We’re told to run to win (1 Corinthians 9:24), persevere to the end of race to win the prize (Philippians 3:14) and hope in God so we can run and not grow weary (Isaiah 40:31). If that’s the case, why is God telling me to stop?
Because I’m not running for Him. I’m running for me. I’m running for my pride and ego.
I’m running in vain (Philippians 2:16). I don’t have the endurance promised by God (Hebrews 12:1) because I’m listening to my sins of pride, arrogance and worry as they trip me up again and again and again.
If I go fast enough, I can make it out of this. I can find the end that justifies the means and live restful and peaceful and maybe even be present in the moment.
I need to stop.
This much is clear, but the question of how remains. This is my life. Going going going. But I don’t want it anymore. I want to feel each joyful moment in every miserable day. I don’t want to miss this because I want what I imagine is there.
I have to enjoy the drive and not try to cut as many seconds from my commute as possible. I need to see the world around me instead of keeping my head down so I can finish my route faster.
I need to trust that when God tells me to stop, He will still be here, and here is the only place I need to be.