Pace = Progress

“It does not matter how slowly you go, as long as you do not stop.”            


“Take time to stop and smell the roses.”          

Source unknown

The above words of wisdom seem contradictory, and perhaps they are. The point I hope to grasp from them is that everyone has their own pace, and we don’t all have to go at the same speed through life. If we want to make progress, we do have to find our pace, whatever that is for us, and proceed.           

We’ve been considering the importance of mindset, and how we process our thoughts for maximum potential. First we’ve looked at finding a place where we can be intentional about thinking through our circumstances and life situations in order to reflect on what they mean and how we can not just survive, but thrive.  I have a colleague who says he sometimes needs to just sit in his office and stare at the wall for 15 minutes, and this helps him focus his mind and find solutions to many problems and concerns. 

Second we were encouraged to make space in our minds and in our lives to allow us time to think, reflect, and dream about whatever thoughts are troubling us or challenging us. Again, intentionality is key here, and if we don’t make the space necessary to properly process our thoughts, our worries and troubles can overwhelm us and we become reactionary rather than proactive in our response.           

Today we look at setting a pace to work through our worries, dream our dreams, and realize possibilities. I see people go to extremes in their pace setting, and that is not always helpful. On the one extreme, people set imminent deadlines for such things as processing grief, getting over loss, or achieving goals. Deadlines can be helpful, but can also be detrimental if we are not in tune to the proper pace that each individual needs to set. In “Man’s Search for Meaning,” holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl writes that many of the first people to die in the concentration camps were those who set their hopes on being freed by Christmas. When Christmas came and went without their freedom, their hope and will to live went as well. There is a danger in setting a pace that is too fast or that is unreasonable.

Equally dangerous, however, is not setting a pace at all. Proverbs 13:4 offers this: “The sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.” When we simply wish for or crave something, but don’t set about a timeframe or an action step, we end up with nothing. While the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied, notice this: diligence implies forward motion, and faithful activity. It does not designate a pace, fast or slow. But it does imply progress. 

Sometimes the best we can do is to follow the advice of Anne Lamott, who says somedays it’s enough to remember these words: “Breathe in, breathe out.  Left foot, right foot.” In that, there is progress. And whether your pace is fast or slow is not important. What is important is to remember that pace = progress. At least, that is forward motion that prevents us from getting stuck. At best, it moves us into a better, brighter future one step at a time, one day at a time.

– Pastor Jeff

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