What happens when we slow down?

The pandemic has forced us to slow down. For many, this has been a challenge, especially when we were still in a state of not knowing, unable to see family and friends, and unsure of what was to come.

Now that cases have gone down, we have slowly been able to gather in small groups again, especially outdoors. This has been a saving grace for many.

I don’t want to down-play the seriousness of the pandemic, and I recognize how fortunate I am not to have lost a loved one or a job or anything else of great importance to me. I feel grateful for that every day. I will say, though, having extra time to reflect and slow-down has truly been a blessing for me.

I have learned so much about what I truly value and what is important to me. I have learned that there were things in my life that were no longer serving me.

If I didn’t have this time, I probably would have just kept blindly going on without realizing that I was carrying things that I didn’t need to anymore.

I feel like God tries to tell us these things in small ways, but when we are too busy, we tend not to notice His messages.

When we don’t stop and listen and take stock of what we’re feeling, we can get caught up in things that He didn’t intend for us. Paths that He may not have cleared for us but that we forced our way through anyway.

I don’t know what life post-pandemic is going to look like. I’ve gotten used to wearing a mask. I actually kind of enjoy it because it provides a convenient disguise when I’m running errands in sweatpants and don’t want to be seen.

I’ve been able to take stock of where my priorities lie. The question of “do I really need to go there or do that thing?” or “is it worth risking my life or the life of a loved one for that particular activity?” have helped me cut my schedule down to what is more manageable for me, which makes me a lot happier in the long-run. Things that once required a drive and a meet-up can now just be a quick phone call or an e-mail, which leaves us all with so much more time to devote to meaningful connection (for all us, “that meeting could’ve easily been an email” folks, this is a welcome relief).

I know it’s the introvert in me speaking (I’m sorry extraverts, I know this time is probably ten times more difficult for you! I hear you, I see you), but I just feel like this slower way of life is more suited to intentional living.

I don’t think He wanted us to thrive in the rat race. I think He wanted us to live our lives with intention and purpose, taking stock regularly of whether what we are doing is serving Him or whether it’s just useless noise.

I turn to one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite saints, St. Francis de Sales (the patron saint of writers and journalists, which explains why he is very near and dear to my heart). He writes, “Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.”

The whole world does seem upset. And some of that is for very good reason. And there is a time to engage in that, for sure. We have a duty as members of society and humans on this earth. But we can always return to our inner peace. We can find that grounding within ourselves and go back there when it all seems to be too much. Because only if we begin with the steadying of our own selves, can we then go out and make a difference in the world.