South Africa

Learning to Walk Slowly

I have been known on more than one occasion and by more than one person been told that I, Sarah Williams, walk too fast! I have even a time or two been teased about how fast I walk. Even my dad, the one I blame for my tendency to walk quickly, has told me that I need to slow down instead of walking so quickly for no reason.  So, why do I walk fast you ask? Well I blame my dad! When I was a little girl I always wanted to go everywhere with my dad and be right by his side. So in an effort to keep up with him, I learned to adapt the way I walked in order to stay in line with his long strides. So over the years my natural walk has turned into quick steps that I am finding others have trouble keeping up with. I have to be reminded when walking in a group to slow down or simply find myself several paces ahead of the group talking to myself. My fast walking has been a subconscious behavior that I truly have to consciously think to take slower paces and stop rushing to nowhere. This has become even more apparent here in South Africa where I walk pretty much everywhere. I have noticed that most South Africans take their time walking, very s-l-o-w-l-y. They seem not to have a care in the world, and can simply stroll everywhere, (in my mind) walking at a snail’s pace. So as I walk to and from school I have to purposely remind myself to slow down, open my eyes, and look at what God has blessed me with. I have to take on the “smell the roses” mentality in order not to rush through this experience and miss out on all that God has blessed me with.

As some of my new friends have been reminding me to slow my physical strides, God has also been revealing areas where I must slow down and pay more attention to. About a week or two ago, I found myself marking off the days until I could return home to be with all of my friends and loved ones. I was very home sick. I especially felt this sickness when not having enough internet (or none at all) to Skype my family and friends. At least with this video conversation I could not only hear their voices but see them too. It has not been easy reading and hearing about all of the things people who I love are doing and carrying on with their lives without me. I felt left out and longed to be back home even for just a second. But God showed me that this was not in His will. If I was meant to be privy to all of the new things going on in my loved one’s lives then I would be. If I was meant to be home in this season of my life then I would be. It was not His will for me at this moment. So at this time I would just have to support and encourage from a distance. I would have to be content with the current season and station of my life at this point. This was not an easy pill for me to swallow. It still is difficult, but I am learning to be content and walk slowly through this season in order to receive ALL that God has in store.

God was calling (no demanding) that I “walk slowly” through this season. This was not a time for me to rush through only being aware of some details. He wants me to notice, appreciate, and take in every little detail that He presents to me. Yes there will be times that I will miss home and all of the people that made that place ‘home’ for me. And yes there will be times I will long to be back there. But when He called me to go on this journey He did say there would be many sacrifices I must make. I willingly entered into this season so I must make the most of it. I read a wonderful book by my new favorite author, Priscilla Shirer, called One in a Million: Journey to Your Promised Land. And in that book, Priscilla Shirer says that, “The road He chooses (yes chooses) to lead us on as we travel into a life of abundance is often more challenging, more tedious, more lonely, more indirect, and more costly than we ever expected.” How true this is for me at this time! This road has already been ‘more challenging, more tedious, more lonely, more indirect, and more costly than [I] ever expected.’ But that is the road God has called me to. That is the path God chose for me to take. But I must not rush down that road trying to reach an end. I must savor every second, every word, every moment, every person, everything and take nothing for granted.

I know we all have heard the saying ‘it’s about the journey and not the destination’ or some variation of that. This is something that I have always struggled with. I have always been tantalized by the destination, the end game, the finish line that I miss out on the race. I forget to be conscious in every moment that I focus all of my energy on where I want to be. God is showing me and teaching me to “walk slowly” through this journey. He has too much for me to gain to miss out on one lesson, person, or place. A very wise and smart friend of mine told me before I even left home to view each person I came into contact with as a teacher. They were sent by God to teach me something during this season, so I must be aware and available to receive all of those lessons. I should know that all too well. For I am a teacher, and I have had several students who would love to rush through assignments. I always wondered why they would feel the need to do this. Especially since if they finished early I would make them go back to review their work and check for errors. Then I would just give them something more challenging to occupy their time until the rest of the class were finished. I think I understand a little better now why these students rushed through every assignment no matter the level of difficulty. They just wanted to be finished! They didn’t care or worry if their work was correct, they just wanted the satisfaction of being done. Of course many if not all of the time their work was not correct so they would have to go back and redo a lot of it. But this still didn’t take away their desire to complete something and have the satisfaction of finishing.

I see now that I am like my students only interested in the end and having the satisfaction of being finished that I rush through things to reach the finish line. I remember giving a fun assignment at the beginning of the year to show students the importance of taking their time and working slowly and efficiently through an assignment. This test required students to read every direction slowly and carefully or they would make minor mistakes that in the end would turn out to be quite major. Of course this fun exercise revealed my speedy students because although they may have been the first ones done but their work was almost never all correct. I see myself in these children, and now I realize that I have been rushing through many assignments that God has given me. I have missed out on the big picture and thus missed out on a greater blessing. Many times God has made me go back and relearn many lessons He tried to teach me before. I can hear my mom saying, “Do it right the first time and you won’t have to do it again!” I must take my time through this journey. I must soak up all of the lessons God is trying to teach me for He sent me here just for that reason. He has my undivided attention so I must learn how to ‘walk slowly’ along this road as not to miss out on anything God has for me.

My new friend that God has placed in my path (to be a teacher) has pointed out my tendency to walk quickly for no reason. So I told her to just grab my arm if I start walking too quickly. Many times already she has had to grab my arm to let me know ‘it’s ok, just slow down a little bit.’ I immediately apologize for rushing and slow my strides. God is the same way. Whenever He notices that we are moving too quickly through life or we are trying to rush through a season especially if it’s a hard season in our lives. He gently grabs our arms and quiets our spirits to just slow down. There is no rush. What we are working towards and for will be available to us when HE deems us ready and not one moment sooner. So it doesn’t matter how fast we try to move or how we try to speed up the process of God perfecting us. HE makes all things available to us in His perfect time. There is nothing we can do to speed up (or slow down) the process or season He has called us to. That goal, aspiration, perfect end that we are all working for will be ours! What God has for us will be for us when He says we are ready. So take deep breaths, count the beats of your heart, and walk slowly. Be aware, be open, and be available to ALL of God’s lessons and blessings! When you feel that gentle tug on your arm that is just God’s reminder to slow your paces and open your eyes and ears to receive from Him. There is no rush, what God has promised you will be revealed in the perfect time. Walk slowly my friends!

God is MINDFUL!

Sarah Williams

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