Urgency and Haste

I’m often in a hurry. Staying up too late is fulfilling to me in a weird, contemplative sort of way which means that mornings are a war zone. My feet hit the floor at the last possible second, and from that point forward I am on the run.

This used to be worse. My mind often entertains flashes of regrettable moments when I rushed past a person, a situation, or a thought that needed my attention and could have been full of meaning. I was forever late to everything until the habit was gently beat out of me during an internship. During my early twenties almost every meal was eaten from a bag in my car.

In recent years I’ve made an effort to slow down. I try to make better eye contact, to listen before I speak, to eat at a table and not while in motion. But I’ve found that being in a rush has its benefits. Distraction. Lack of expectation of depth from others. Ignoring troubling thoughts.

Five years ago I wouldn’t have considered myself a fearful person. I did a lot of brave, scary things and was successful at the end of most of them. When the ceiling caved and my world went dark for a time, all of that changed. I emerged from that pit terrified. Of the dark. Of strangers. Of rejection, and of love. Of failure. Fear wrapped itself around me like a warm, oversized sweater and promised to keep me safe. Never again would I face that pit.

Fear’s voice in my ear guided a lot of my decisions. Whether or not to strike up a conversation. Whether or not to attend a concert or friend’s wedding. Whether or not to risk a new hobby, or church, or ministry, or friendship. And fear’s wisdom was always the same: don’t. The only way to remain safe, to be whole, is to retreat.

Fear lied. I wasn’t whole. I was trembling and small, a shadow of the picture in my mind of Christ in me. So I began to creep out of the corner, braved the cold as I shed my sweater and peered into the light of the life that had developed around me. I found lovely people. Interesting opportunities. Hard choices. Beauty. God had planted a garden outside the cave and He nurtured it while I was asleep. He loves me that much. So I took a few hesitant steps out, and have been acclimating myself to this new world for a couple of years now.

In the past few months, two people in my world have passed away. One had been a picture to me of openness, freedom, of love and joy in a way that no other person ever has been. Many of my thoughts in the days since have centered on how to emulate some of those most admirable characteristics. The other person was a young man I had just begun to know. He was gone suddenly, tragically, and the loss impacted me with an almost inordinate depth. For days I swam in regret for not having sought him out, for questions not asked and time not spent.

What does it mean to live from a place of hope, rather than a place of fear? My fear closed me off so that every time I met a person who drew me, every time an opportunity presented itself that excited me, I would choke on my words and shrink back into the darkness. I couldn’t begin to hope that a new friend might be made, a new gift discovered.

A month ago, I reached out to an old friend. This person was incredibly influential in my life at a young age, and was one of the first people I remember really looking up to as a kind of older sister. I was terrified of potential rejection, but I couldn’t shake the urge. We’ve since shared time together and I have felt a healing flow of forgiveness and reconciliation pouring over a dry place in my heart. I’ve also met a new person who reminds me of my favorite people and times. During our few conversations I’ve been my favorite version of myself, which gives me hope that I’m still on my way to becoming her. Our time spent has felt like Cornerstone and camping and human connection at its simplest. Yet fear almost stayed my hand when I reached out.

In the past months I’ve started and finished my first short story. I’ve spent intentional time forgiving the villain of my real-life story. I’ve invited people into my home more often than ever before. I’ve spoken honestly and sought to love in very small, simple ways. I’ve started a yoga class and joined a gym. All of these things terrify me. And they take time. There’s still a small part of me that looks back to the corner and thinks it would be better to stay in a hurry, to skim the surface and stay safe.

During a drive recently there was a cd playing that hasn’t left my stereo for weeks. It was just a backdrop to the thoughts racing around in my head. Then a lyric popped and tucked itself into my psyche. I’d listened to the song a hundred times but never heard this line: “I will love with urgency but not with haste.” So many of my struggled are carried in those words. Temptations to remain busy. Temptations to allow fear to call the shots. Temptations to ignore the significant for the sake of distraction. But I want this to be true of me. I want to love with urgency, never wasting an exchange or opportunity, experiencing each interaction as a gift in the moment. And never rushing past the potential to encounter meaning in the person set before me.

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2 Comments

  1. April 17, 2013 at 7:24 pm

    Mandy- This is a beautiful and powerful post. Thanks for sharing. Such a good reminder that business keeps us from going deeper. I like your question, “What does it mean to live from a place of hope, rather than a place of fear?”

    • MandyK said,

      April 18, 2013 at 9:00 am

      Thanks, Sonya 🙂 The challenge will be to keep walking it out…


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