Thursday, January 10, 2019

Is It Time to Slow Down?

by Emily Conrad

I may not be one for resolutions, but I’m goal-oriented.

So to prep for 2019, I thought about where I’ve been, where I am, and where I want to go.

I wrote lists about how to get there, then I ran that direction.

And would you believe, just one week—one week!—into 2019, I’ve already encountered discouragement on my way toward one of my goals for the year.

It started with the idea that I could produce a submission-ready manuscript within a couple of months. I started in late 2018, so the plan was to finish the first draft by the end of January, 2019.

Since it usually takes me a year to write and polish a manuscript, I don’t know why the idea that I could accomplish this in a couple of months took over. Pride? Comparison? Impatience? Perhaps some misplaced worth? (The answer is E-All of the above.)

So, there I was, rushing down my planned course, my dreams heavy on my back, pride and impatience nipping at my heels, and that's when I tripped and fell face-first into discouragement.

The setback I tripped over is in no way detrimental to my writing project, though it may push back how long the manuscript will take to complete. I could've gotten back up and kept working, but instead, I found myself neck-deep in discouragement and doubts.

Why had I made the plan I made? Was it my ambition, or was I following God? How would I know? What should I do now? Go back to the old manuscript? Take a few days off? Write something new? Find a day job?

I suspect anyone who’s been pursuing a dream long is familiar with bouts of discouragement like this.

As I wrestled with these feelings, wondering what God wanted me to do now, some circumstances combined, and within the space of an hour or two, I went from asking questions to feeling the peace of a surprising answer:

Slow down.

You don’t have to rush this.

Oh. Right.

The deadline--the project itself, in fact--was self-assigned, and nothing bad will happen if it takes me longer than I initially planned. The end result will likely even benefit from extra time, and my emotional and mental well-being will, as well. Why was I so set on rushing?

The usual reasons.

We want to GO places. We want to DO things. We want to make our dreams come true. We can get so hungry for validation and a sense of accomplishment, that we push ourselves at a pace we weren't cut out for.

But when we rush like this without listening to Jesus telling us to slow down and walk with Him, we're running headlong toward burnout and discouragement.

When we rush without listening to #Jesus telling us to slow down and walk with Him, we're racing toward #discouragement. via @emilyrconrad

Let's stop sprinting when God signed us up for a marathon. Isn't that what the biggest dreams in life are? If we persist in going at break-neck speed, eventually, we'll trip and look around for Him, and then we might find He wasn't as on board with the pace as we thought He was.

Even when we've tried to run ahead, He's gracious. He picks His children back up. He dusts us off. He shows us the way and asks us to honor the pace He sets--a sustainable one powered by His strength and not our own. Since we can accomplish nothing without Him, this is the only true way forward.

This doesn't necessarily mean His ways will make sense to us. Often, He chooses to walk when we would rather run. He routes us directions we don’t understand. He makes us lie down in green pastures.

Lie down? But, God, this is a race.

In some ways, yes. In some ways, no.

In Christ, we already have what we most need: love, worth, purpose, and the hope of salvation.

With all of the blessings He's already granted to us, we’re free to go at God’s pace through the course He’s charted for our lives. As long as we're following Him, we won't go off course, and we won't arrive late.

As long as we're following #Jesus, we won't go off course, and we won't arrive late. via @emilyrconrad

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28, NET

The Lord is my shepherd,
I lack nothing.
He takes me to lush pastures,
he leads me to refreshing water.
He restores my strength.
He leads me down the right paths
for the sake of his reputation.
Psalm 23:1-3, NET

PS - I had the honor of posting on the ACFW blog this week. If you're a writer (or really, anyone hungry for acceptance), perhaps you'll be encouraged by this post on Finding Acceptance in a Tough Writing Industry.

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We can get so hungry for #validation and a sense of #accomplishment, that we push ourselves at a pace we weren't cut out for. But #Jesus offers rest. - via @emilyrconrad

Title graphic created on, photo by João Ferreira on Unsplash
Woman running on mountain trail photo by James Chou on Unsplash

Woman walk on trail photo by Emma Simpson on Unsplash


Katie Powner said...

I can so relate, Emily. One minute I'm rushing and scrambling like "I'm running out of time! Life is a vapor! Only a blip, and it'll all be over!" The next minute I'm like, "What's the hurry? If you don't meet all your goals, who cares? God only cares about your heart."

So basically it's a roller coaster sometimes for me. But God tells us to rest in Him and wait on Him.

Emily Conrad said...

I don't even like roller coasters, but yup, I buy tickets to this one sometimes ;) It's comforting that I'm not alone. And even more comforting that God has a better way, as you wrote :) Thanks so much for reading!

Amanda Wen said...

AMEN to this whole entire thing. I get so threatened by those authors who can write a whole book in just a few weeks, even though I KNOW that the very nature of the type of books I write means there's no way to produce them quickly. The comparison trap is so insidious, and I hate it. Thank you for the reminder that God knows what He's called me to write, He knows what He's planning to do with it, and there is no reason for me to hurry it.

Emily Conrad said...

Yes! Amen, Amanda! I can never be reminded of this enough. God knows the plans He has for us, and nothing will thwart Him--even if our journey, pace, and end result doesn't look the way it might for someone else.

Anne Carol said...

It's definitely a marathon! In my case, I ran the other way for the first half, and now I have to make up those miles! I definitely feel like God is telling me to be patient, that there's no rush. This post really hit the mark!

Emily Conrad said...

Oh, that's a good point, Anne--sometimes we all do run the wrong direction, don't we? I'm glad you've found reassurance that you don't have to rush. God will accomplish His purposes in His time. So glad it doesn't all depend on us!

Erin Unger said...

I recently blogged about this very thing! I think God is trying to talk to me as much as others, lol. We do need to slow down and look to Him for the right pace. Thanks for this great post.

Emily Conrad said...

Isn't it interesting how He talks to many of us about the same thing around the same time? I love how God works! Thanks for visiting today, Erin!

Mary Felkins said...

I thought of the word race and how it DOES suggest a fast pace. Like the word 'rest'. It doesn't necessarily mean sleep but to get to work alongside Jesus and at His pace. Sometimes I've been in a rush to get to WalMart or something and have had to ask, "But why the hurry?" Usually there was no need to rush. Our culture pushes us faster so we feel unproductive otherwise. Great word of encouragement.

Emily Conrad said...

Good points, Mary! I think you summed it up well--whether racing or resting, it's about working with Jesus at His pace. Thanks so much for stopping by!