So I’m back, everyone, after a week off, which was relaxing, rejuvenating and energising, if you wanted to know how the time spent away from Flashback Fridays was. What did I learn throughout the past two weeks, you ask? Well, to keep it brief (and let me tell you that this instalment is a short one, in contrast to the many ‘long-ish’ posts I’ve written prior to this one!), I will just say this- that I have learnt that no more than ever we need to learn to slow down. As a human race (and this is only from what I have observed in my life and the lives of others I come across, so correct me if I’m wrong!), I believe that we think that we will gain more out of our day if we’re spending a short time on one single activity, and we will enjoy our day more if we somehow, in some way, fit more activities in per day. We’re a human race that believes that ‘more is better’ and we believe that perhaps, just perhaps, sleep is overrated.
Yet this past two weeks more than ever before, I have seen the effects of busyness in the lives of customers at the store, as well as passers-by, and boy, it is something to behold. I won’t get into all the specifics, but here are just a few examples of people on the go, and their tired bodies catching up with them. There are teenagers roaming around the shopping centre with not a clue of what they are doing each day, but are at the centre just because. Yep, just because they’re bored, and their saturated from doing way to much than their bodies can handle. I’ve also seen tired mothers pushing their babies in prams, and relenting to their child’s cries and/or tantrums, buying them a cookie or sweet treat in the hopes that the madness and chaos would subside, sometimes to no avail.
I’ve seen 20 something ethnic tough muscly guys walk around, with wads of cash (green and yellow) in rubber bands, joking around with their mates and pretending to be important, waiting for haircuts. But in truth, I can tell some of them just don’t want to be there. They’d rather be at home, sleeping, or maybe they each have a hidden talent that they’d like to share with the world, but are afraid of people’s reactions. There are people at the shopping centre acting as if the world’s going to end tomorrow, and they’re the same people that think that a certain activity is too long if it exceeds 10 minutes. There are plenty of people that I have seen over the past two weeks (the first two weeks of Ramadan!) that are travelling way to fast, for reasons that may be valid, but I believe that it’s for reasons that can wait. Doing life at a frenetic pace and then breaking down, like some of us, is way too common, but something that can be remedied. If we’re weary and we’re worn, but we reckon that the answer is to do more shopping, and more moving around so that we feel more alive, then let me tell you that that couldn’t be any more further from the truth. Rather, I reckon that a prescription of rest is required for each of us. A prescription of rest and relaxation, of introspection and reflection by order of the doctor Jesus Christ Himself.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote in great detail about how we as humans cannot act as if we’re running on Duracell batteries, and one paragraph in last Flashback Friday’s post stuck out to me, and I’d like to quote it verbatim, as I don’t think I can succinctly say what I highlighted last time- We’re not robots. And we’re not meant to run on empty. When we’re hungry, we should eat, and not brush off the idea, and instead work more and more until we literally fall down in a quivering mess. Our bodies are only meant to take so much until we need to rest and recharge, and that goes the same with anything that we do. Everything in moderation is fine, but in excess- that’s when things get hairy, as if we do something in excess, that’s all we’ll be talking about, and when our conversations with our loved ones are only on the topic that we love at the moment, and not to the favourite topics of others, relationships can fracture, or break beyond repair, and who really wants that to happen? Sure God can help us and can repair anything broken, but do we really want it to get to this stage?
Upon reading these revealing words that I believe I had a hand in writing (but that I reckon God ultimately wrote!); I delved into the debut album from Casting Crowns, specifically highlighting the song “American Dream”, which speaks about busyness, and the fact that we all ought to slow down in order to focus on our relationships, that mean so much more than the act of working hard to provide for those relationships to thrive. Sometimes our good intentions of working hard to ensure that our relationships thrive can bring about the downfall of relationships if we aren’t careful, and I’d like to touch upon this theme once again.
Apart from “American Dream”, other songs from Casting Crowns teach us that rest and relaxation and rejuvenation as opposed to running and rushing, are beneficial for the physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual wellbeing, and it is these songs that I have held onto as I have actively tried to place more emphasis on the act of slowing down in my life of late, as opposed to running on ‘empty’ all the time. “Voice Of Truth” encourages us to listen to God’s voice, telling us not to be afraid and not to believe the lies of the devil, while “Who Am I” asks the question of our identity, and then answers it by saying that we are His, so we don’t need to rush around and do stuff for us to feel wanted, because we already are- by the God of the universe who loves each of us intimately. And there are also a slew of out-and out worship songs on the album (“Glory”, “Life Of Praise” “Praise You In The Dance” and “Your Love Is Extravagant”) and these songs bring us peace and a sense of calmness and security as we remember that our rushing doesn’t add anything to our lives- we’re already loved and accepted, so we don’t have to do anything more or extra; and that includes fitting more in our day so that we can say that we have accomplished a lot. To God, it doesn’t matter if we accomplish anything, as just existing and communing with Him is enough.
What I admire about Casting Crowns is that these guys are part time musicians and full time youth pastors, which is pretty cool. Seemingly down to earth (as I could tell when they visited Australia and headline a concert in Sydney in 2012), it is their relatability in their lyrics that make their songs all the more enjoyable, and none more so enjoyable and relatable right now to me personally than their debut, as each of the ten songs here contain biblical truths and gems that can be applied to today’s society and culture, especially the notion of being busy vs taking time out to relax and commune with God. But if you don’t feel the guys and this album, then that’s fine. As always you can let me know in the comments which album has been teaching you to slow down and not rush around that much.
So let me hand over the mic to you guys. What is the thing right now that occupies the most part of your time? What keeps you busy, and is it consuming you? Maybe instead of doing that thing, you can sit with Jesus and let Him minister to your soul!
Stay tuned next week for the conclusion of this part of the blog, where I delve into The Struggle from Tenth Avenue North!