I recently gave my students a writing prompt. The topic was What do you like to take your time with and why?
Normally, they like to take the comical approach and write about silly things. “I like to take my time watching SpongeBob because it’s so funny and I would watch it all day,” and “I like to take my time sleeping because… I like to sleep.”
Middle schoolers are hilarious.
This week, however, I encouraged them to strive for a more serious tone in their craft. The results?
I like to take my time knitting scarves with my mom. I know it sounds like I’m an old lady, but my mom and I don’t get to hang out often and I cherish these moments being with her.
I like to take my time baking because if I go too quickly, I’ll ruin the recipe and have to throw it all away. I hate throwing away food because I know others are starving in the world.
I like to take my time with my religion because it’s important to me. Prayer– talking with Jesus– gives me life.
Middle schoolers are deep thinkers.
We all are, or at least should be.
Taking our time to do things has become taboo in today’s world.
We want entertainment, and we want it now.
We desire progress, but yesterday.
We strive for success, but only instantly. Otherwise, why bother? It takes too long.
Our food, our movies, our jobs, even our interactions with others (especially the digital ones) last but seconds before we move (quickly) onto the next thing.
Life wasn’t meant to be lived in the fast lane. On the contrary, it is in our nature to move slowly toward our goals be they earthly or celestial. Did not Paul spend three years in Arabia after being blinded by Christ on the road to Demascus? Did not Steve Jobs spend countless years developing Apple into the technological powerhouse it is today? Did not Lebron James practice jump shots from every angle on the court to become #1 on the NBA scoring list?
Didn’t Jesus wait 30 years before starting His public ministry?
Patience is an exercise of the cardinal virtue of fortitude. It allows our simple skills to fortify over time. When these skills are joined with a Christian worldview, we discover two things: 1) that doing them consistently becomes a habit of virtue and 2) it was never really us who developed this skill in the first place, but God who infused His power into the world through us. Our talents, while unique to us, are really His. Our works are His. Our successes (and our failures) are ultimately His.
This is how one progresses quickly in spirituality: Go slow to go fast.
We begin as us, but we ultimately become one in Him. He then allows us to experience Him in a quasi-first person point of view known as life.
Unfortunately, we run the risk of thinking this life is our own story, that we pen the pages. We move quickly from task to task filling up our days with lists of things to do, goals to achieve that we forget to actually live it. We cannot accomplish all He has given us to do until we slow down, learn from His simple ways, and be. Once we enter into His grace, we will do as St. Catherine of Sienna tells us, “Be who God meant you meant to be, and you’ll set the world on fire.”
Go slow to go fast.