Every year I write my elder son a Christmas letter, a tradition I started when he was 10 years old. I plan on continuing as long as he’s willing to read them (maybe even beyond) and extending it to my other two children when they reach the age of 10.
I use this letter to reflect on the past year as I try to tie together family milestones, individual accomplishments, situations in the world and any wisdom I can impart. As I think about the current state of our community, I believe the words I shared with my son this year may be beneficial to a wider audience.
The crux of my letter was in response to a year that felt like a whirlwind. Maybe most years in reflection feel this way, but as a father I began to worry about my son getting caught up in said whirlwind. Life seems to move so fast these days; we barely know where we just came from before moving on to whatever is next.
I have the same worry for our community and our world; every year we seem to value faster as better. As much as I like to keep life moving forward, it seems to me that faster isn’t always better. In fact, as I shared with my son, a continual drive to move faster in life has two unfortunate consequences: We miss more things, and we make more mistakes.
Don’t get me wrong — we will always miss things and mistakes will always be made; however, the faster we move the more these two things happen. As I get older, I realize how precious the life God has given us is, not just our existence, but the blessing of every minute.
God has invested in each and every one of us the same amount — no matter our income, our education, our ethnicity, our gender or our political positions, we have all been given 24 hours a day.
It seems to reason that it is what we do with our time that matters. There is no prize for those who live faster and get to the end first. Slowing down will allow us to experience life more fully. Taking that extra moment will ensure you don’t miss as much as you otherwise would, and pausing slightly might just reduce the mistakes we make.
It is OK to not keep pace with the world around you. It is OK to allow your heart and mind to just hover in one spot for a moment. It is OK to breathe deeply and take in the world around you.
A number of years ago a mentor of mine offered a technique that uses Psalm 46:10 as a way to slow down in any given fast-paced moment. Maybe saying and reflecting on these five statements will help you, too: “Be … be still … be still and know … be still and know that I am … be still and know that I am God.”
Ethan Maple of New Palestine is lead pastor of the Movie Theater Church that meets at Washington Square Mall. This weekly column is written by local clergy members.