Tap The Brakes

This time of year is always a bit busier than usual. Everyone seems to be living past the normal speed limits of daily life. When I was younger I liked to drive fast. I could tell when I was driving way too fast when the hydro poles seemed to blur together next to the country roads where I grew up. Time to ease up on the accelerator and tap the brakes until those poles were poles again instead of smudges rushing by.

I have often used this metaphor to remind myself what can happen to our connections with people when we ‘do life’ too fast, speeding to accomplish more than the legal limit of life allows. Family members, friends, or the neighbor next door begin to seem like those hydro poles as we rush to the next task on our ‘To Do’ lists. 

The trouble is, those ‘To Do’ lists and calendars are often filled with good things. Most of us look at our lists and wonder honestly what we could eliminate. Skip grocery shopping? Cancel the tune up for the car? Let the house go another week without cleaning? Give up volunteering at the soup kitchen? Tell the kids there is no time to take them to soccer or ballet or karate or piano lessons or….? Our ‘To-Do’ lists represent the agendas and tasks and even the values that are creating the life we want.

But when our ‘To Do’ lists send us careening at break-neck speeds with no time to attend to the people around us, it is time to ease up on the accelerator and tap the brakes.  Ask yourself these questions: How much will those check-marks on the ‘To Do’ list matter if life becomes disconnected, emptied of hugs and handshakes, kind words and ‘catching up’? Is the next agenda item so crucial that it is worth feeling like a stranger to your wife or best friend? Is the next appointment so important that you cannot possibly slow down to speak kind words to the cashier or talk about the weather with your neighbour? Could you redesign your ‘To Do’ list so it enhanced your ability to build friendships? Could you make it your agenda to tend relationships, to slow down for the one in front of you, to ask an honest “how are you?” or offer a kind word?

The prime example of this kind of life is Jesus Christ. The Bible tells the story of his life. Jesus had ‘To Do’ lists and agendas in mind. Yet people were never blurs beside the road for him.  He always stopped to ‘love the one’. He offered kindness, took time to listen and teach, and extended healing. His agenda was building people. His ‘To Do’ list was really a ‘To Be With’ list, and his life shows us what we are meant for. He is The Way, The Truth and The Life. Friendship with Him is the best starting place for true life and a new way to live!