I sometimes sit in traffic wondering why in the world we are not moving faster. It is a green light, and traffic should be moving! I am convinced it is caused by one driver who is just not moving … well … faster. I mean, don’t they know I am on the fast track in life here? I am in the fast lane, driving my fast car, making fast money and on my way to get some fast food. If that person plugging up the fast lane wants to do some Sunday driving, then maybe they should move out of the fast lane. Or maybe I am just moving too fast and missing some significant point in life.
As a twentysomething, I have been on this fast track ever since I was in college. I tried moving, doing, eating, driving, making and being faster with success. I got into a fast-paced career with lots of success, at least monetarily speaking—401(k), benefits, opportunities, contacts and so forth. I had more money in my fast-pace life, which was a big reason I got in the fast lane. With more money, I got to spend more time at Best Buy, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and my favorite Starbucks. I mean, who was going to complain? Not me.
There was never a class, at least not at my university, which spoke of balance and being present in the moment. I saw some books on the matter, but I was more interested in books that helped me make money faster or how to do “this or that” faster. To me, those two things—balance and being present—were foreign. I guess you could say I picked up a lot of my faced-paced antics through society, culture, experiences and just being a normal American. I learned quickly how the world in the fast lane would give me things, well, at least tangible things. Everyone around me bought into this lifestyle. The keep-up-or-get-left-behind mentality. Move it or lose it. I told myself I was not going to lose anything.
I would try to squeeze an extra hour into my day. I would try to do my job faster and better than the others. I would try to talk faster to get my point across quicker. I would try to get someplace earlier so I didn’t “miss out”—my entire life was on this treadmill. If you have never experienced this, I have an exercise for you to try. Get on a treadmill and crank it up to its top speed. Set the time limit for five minutes and run as fast as you can. At first you will notice your endorphins buzzing and you will be feeling good, but then you get tunnel vision, your breathing will become labored, perspiration will rise, muscles fatigue quicker, and it become less than enjoyable. The point is, while on the treadmill you have quick, immediate results, like getting to your destination or goal faster, but the journey or experience overall can be taxing. This is how I felt.
What I have learned is how important the gift of now is. God, I believe, is more concerned about you and living fully in the present than concentrating solely on what our plans are in the next five years. I look back and wonder how many “aha” moments, lessoned to be learned, meaningful conversations I missed. I was just moving through life at a blistering speed while acquiring new things and conquering new territories. I was never really satisfied. I was always half empty, and I did not just have one glass to fill but several. I always had this void and empty feeling in the pit of my soul, but nobody really knew it because I was either moving too fast for them to notice or I myself was never really aware of it.
I was never one to go to church: I didn’t have time and never really felt close to God. He couldn’t keep up with me, I would tell myself. Religion and my relationship with God did not fit into my schedule. I finally told myself I had to be still, attend Sunday church, read the Bible and just be. God is amazing. He constantly was aware of me and was never too busy to forget about me. He never gave up on me, and when I was ready, He revealed Himself to my eyes and soul.
What changed me was slowing down my life. At first it was just a little bit at a time, but I noticed as I slowed down, my conversations and experiences with God became more meaningful and more heartfelt. I was learning how to speak to God in the midst of all this craziness I created in my life. I was learning that busyness does not equal a more fulfilled life. My relationship with God was more fulfilling than money, a car or my fast-lane career. He wanted me to experience life and to take my time and not necessarily blow through life. I think this is somewhat counter cultural because in today’s world the term “fast” is considered convenient. But sometimes convenience comes with a price, like quality. Quality time with God and yourself, two of the most important people you should get to know.
With the help and patience of my church community, my wife and my family, I am learning that we must all know that God loves us no matter what and there is nothing that can separate us from His love. He does not care about our income, our job, our DVD collections, our latest gadgets or our wardrobe. He cares about you and me as His sons and daughters. Also, I have learned one of the most important things God has given us is time. Take time to live in the present and you will be taken care of. Slow down in your life and take time for yourself. When you take time and you live in the present, I can almost guarantee you will experience a more fulfilling and enriching life than if you were to breeze through the day, month, year and your life. After all, it took God a few days—not one—to create the world. If God can take His time, then I suggest you can too.[Joe Riggio is a change architect of life. He constantly looks to build new relationships with God and his fellow brothers and sisters of life. His passion is to empower others and to create awareness of who we are born to be.]
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