Do you ever wonder why God places you somewhere at a specific time in your life? As I am sitting in my apartment in Italy, this thought has been rolling around in my head for the last few hours. I know that God does not make mistakes in anything He does, and His plan for each of our lives is perfect and divine. But sometimes, the curiosity of why God moves us to different places in the world, or why certain changes take place in our lives makes us search deeper in to what He may be trying to teach us.
I believe that one thing He has been showing me is the importance of slowing down and treasuring life. We all know that life is precious and that we are on this earth for such a short time, however that reality often doesn’t prompt us in to action. It sits in the back of our minds as we continue to race through life and fill our schedules up as much as possible. The past five years of my life have consisted of that very thing. If I could sit here now and list out all the activities I was involved in during college, and the unbelievable hours I spent running here and there, I myself would wonder if I ever slowed down enough to simply enjoy the moment.
Now that I am in Italy, in a foreign country where I do not speak the language and it is nearly impossible to fill my schedule to the brim, I am being forced to reflect on the question of whether I truly treasure each moment in life, or if I simply rush through every day to the next thing I can accomplish. Why do I feel like a fish out of water when I am not completing multiple tasks in one day? Why do I feel less significant when all I can accomplish in one day is figuring out my way around the city? What have I been putting so much of my identity in for the last five years?
I am in a country that is truly pushing me to look deeper in to my heart at some of these questions. In America, everything is fast paced and you are lucky to take one deep breath throughout the day. In Italy, everything about the culture is much slower. People tend to enjoy the moment they are in without thinking about the next task that they can run to.
A few weeks ago, we were at a medieval festival with some of our Italian friends from church, and I kept asking the question, “dove andiamo?!?, which means, “where are we going?”. One of my Italian friends turned to me and said, “you are struggling to enjoy walking around the festival and the friends that are here with you”. He told me that from his visits to America, he could see that we always need a plan and always need to know the next step. He encouraged me to let go of that control, and just delight in the fact that we are able to simply walk around at a slow pace and take in the sites of the festival. And boy was that hard for me!
I believe at this moment that God has me here in Italy to slow me down. To help me treasure life a little more and take a deep breath. I am still going to work hard to learn the language, make friends with Italians and live intentionally, however I believe that it is going to look much different then it has for most of my life. This change is a good thing, because if I continue to keep running and spinning my wheels the way I have been in the past, I will seriously burn myself out and be useless for the long haul. God is funny in the way that He works and the ways in which He strips us of all that we rely on so that we will fully rely on Him. This is going to be an adjustment for me, but I believe that it is going to be the best thing that has happened to me in a long time. I hope that you too can slow down with me, and join me in this journey to treasure life more. It is so precious and so quick! God doesn’t ask us to break our backs for Him daily. Often times, when we are doing that, we are inflicting a burden upon ourselves that He hasn’t called us to carry. He calls us to love Him and love others. Will you join me in this challenge to slow down and treasure the moment?
I was so encouraged by this scripture from the Message version of the Bible, and I believe that this is something that God is radically showing me in my life today.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
I long to learn the “unforced rhythms of grace” throughout each day, and I hope you will see them too.