You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to become angry. James 1:19
This past week, the final week of my “Tickle” Challenge, happened to fall on the Holy Week of the Christian calendar. It was a time of stillness, reflection, confession, and gratitude. It was a time for me to reflect on the previous three weeks of this journey and thank God for my progress, His blessings, and the challenges that made me stronger.
After three weeks of conditioning my mind to be slow to speak, quick to listen, and slow to get angry, I realized that for this challenge to continue beyond these 30 days, I have to get down to the heart of the matter: cut the busyness out of my life.
I noticed that when I have an agenda or when I get overly zealous and pile a bunch of things on my plate at once (which is pretty much every day except the Sabbath), that is when I am more inclined to be quick to speak, quick to get irritable, and well, I have no time to slow down and listen. So even though I have successfully applied James 1:19 on many, many, many occasions over the last four weeks (YEAH!), God put it upon my heart to order my priorities and find ways to cut the busyness out so I can make this a permanent change.
This past week when I knelt down before my Savior, I asked for wisdom. “Grant me wisdom Lord to handle situations in a way that would please you. Grant me wisdom to order my steps so that I won’t allow the busyness of my day to strip me of opportunities to be quick to listen. Grant me wisdom to order my priorities so that I can be slow to speak and slow to get irritable and spend more time enjoying the life You have given me.”
I asked Him to change my heart. “Change my heart, oh God, so that I may be a reflection of Your love. Change my heart, oh God, so that I may speak with love, speak life, speak peace. Change my heart, oh God, so that I may love when I have nothing left to give.”
So my first “opportunity” came on Holy Saturday. We had our house turned upside down doing some spring cleaning (this is an example of me getting overly zealous and piling too much on my plate at once). We planned to watch the Passion of Christ in the evening. But as the evening came to a close, we were no where near completion. Initially, my husband and I didn’t want to loose the momentum of pressing through our projects and working on getting the house back in order for Resurrection Day. But as I reflected on my journey, I was quick to listen. I stopped. I listened to my children. I listened to that still, small voice in my heart…my Savior.
So…we stopped! Yes, it was so hard to stop in the middle of the mess. The old me would have sent the kids to bed with a reminder that in the morning they would have a special, yummy, surprise breakfast waiting for them. Then my husband and I would have pushed through our “To Do List” until we were too tired to continue. (Then we would have woken up tired and grouchy…right? See how that would have set us up to be quick to get angry, quick to speak, and no patience to listen?) But instead, we gathered as a family to watch The Passion of Christ on the eve of Resurrection Sunday. It was a powerful time together and it opened up so many opportunities for my husband and I to talk to our children about the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus, the Son of God, the sacrificial Lamb, the Savior of the World. It was an amazing experience and I am so grateful I was quick to listen. Now what if I had let the busyness of the moment stop me from spending that special time with my family?
I am not perfect, but I am a new creation through Christ Jesus. I know there will be times when the work just has to be done and there will be busy seasons, but in those times I need to be quick to listen…quick to listen to the still, small voice of my Savior. It is in that still, small voice that I find my peace. It is in that peace that I find the joy in all the chaos. It is in all the chaos that I find the opportunities to be slow to speak, quick to listen, and slow to get angry. It is these opportunities that the Lord reveals Himself to me and blesses me with strength, perseverance, endurance, and love.
Can you think of a time you allowed the busyness of your life prevent you from enjoying a special time with friends, family, or loved ones? Do you notice that when you are “too busy” you are more inclined to be quick to get irritable, quick to speak, and have no time to listen? What changes can you make in your life that would allow you to slow down and enJOY the life God has blessed you with?
Thank you for all your support during this challenge. It has been such a wonderful experience for me and I enJOYed sharing it with you. Thank you for your words of wisdom and encouragement and for sharing your experiences. I love hearing about how the Lord is working in the lives of His children.