In many ways 2019 seems so long ago. It seems like an eternity in some regard. Our lives have been flipped upside down in a mere matter of months. This year has been unlike one that we have ever experienced. We have all made sacrifices and had to change the way we go about our daily lives. From a practical point of view some of those changes have been a positive in my life. The Lord showed me the importance of taking a step back and slowing down.
Our society is one that is constantly on the go. Think about it for a moment: when do you slowdown?
If you are like me then the only time you slow down is when your head hits the pillow at the end of the day. My days before COVID were a whirlwind and, at least in my mind, there was no time to rest. I am a father of four, work fulltime, have a podcast, a YouTube channel, teach at church, write, and I am also a Ph.D student. My days started at 4:00am and I would go to bed at 11:00pm.
I list these things not to brag, but to demonstrate how busy our lives have become. I suspect that I am not the only one. Amid this hectic schedule where do I fit in time with the Lord, let alone sleep? The pandemic quickly turned into a time of self-reflection.
Though I had read scripture everyday prior to the pandemic, I believe that I got into a habit of doing to say I did it. Was I praying and pondering what I was reading? Not really, because I was already thinking about all the things I had to do. In late March I read Proverbs 12:1 which states, “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid” (ESV-CE).
It dawned on me that my busyness was distracting me from my relationship with the Christ. I was doing all these things for Him, but the rigor of my schedule took the place of building upon my relationship with him. When I read that passage from Proverbs, I tried to rationalize my schedule. I would say “Lord I need to make money to feed my family, my podcast, writing, and YouTube are all about you. I need to do these things to spread the word about you and your Church”. The bottom line is that we all try to rationalize things.
For a period of five days I woke up early and prayed for 30 minutes. No phone around, no technology, just the Lord and me. There was a lot that happened during these 30-minute prayer sessions. Two words were very prominent . . . slow down. Like an engine at full throttle I had been redlining for a long time. The stress and lack of sleep were beginning to take their toll. This 30-minute period of prayer and scripture reading was not only refreshing, but energizing. By giving times to God something profound happened. It was like time was being multiplied. Slowing down allowed me to reprioritize and I not only spent more time with God, but also with my wife and children. Not only that but everything on my plate was still getting done, but it was improved.
We all have things to do, but as Catholic Christians we need to remember that the enemy is using every tactic possible to keep our minds from God and the Church. Seemingly good things can become a distraction if we are not careful. Keep your eyes on the Lord and everything will fall in place. Slow down. Slow down.