The cars in the mall parking lot have filled every available spot, and even a few that aren’t really meant for parking. People rush by lugging bag after bag of items destined to be wrapped, either by hand at home or by the store concierge complete with gold and glitter and fancy wrapping paper.
The registers at every store are busy, as my friend George Bailey would say, announcing that yet another angel has received his wings! Shoppers push to grab the last sweater in the size they’re looking for before someone else snaps it up. People are checking lists either neatly typed on their cell phone or scribbled on the pad left by real estate agents on front doors.
The noise and the rush and the crowds could push anyone over the edge. I say “could” because there are a few of us that actually find ourselves energized by all the hubbub.
One of my favorite things to do, either during the Christmas shopping season or during a regular busy day at Disneyland, is to find a spot just off the main path and sit. Sipping my latte while listening to the music over the load speaker and just watching folks go by is very calming to me.
Stopping and taking a break, even if it’s only for 10 min, is often enough to give me the energy to keep going. It’s like sitting on a California freeway in crazy traffic and taking the next off ramp so I can catch my breath and breathe or check my phone to make sure there isn’t a better way home.
I find it encouraging that even Jesus took a break from time to time. His official ministry was relatively short, only three years. But he always found time to step away from the crowds and the noise and take a break. To breathe and recharge. To pray and converse with his Father. I think he set an example for us all.
Jesus had people crowding him all the time. Demanding miracles and healings and to be fed by a few fish and loaves of bread. I would imagine there were times it all felt a little overwhelming. He was the embodiment of God but he was also human. And we humans get frustrated and tired and cranky.
I wonder if Jesus’ example of taking a break every once in a while is actually an example of how to keep going when you think you can’t. To feel rested enough that those smart, snarky responses aren’t quite as quick to spring out of our mouths. To ensure that our reactions to the world around us are modeled after the Father we stay connected to by praying and resting in him while we take a break.
I find that when I’m rested and connected to God I’m a better, kinder version of myself. And when I slow down and take a step off the crazy merry-go-round that I’m riding I can spot opportunities to share myself with others. Like holding the door open, smiling at the harried mom with the screaming child or giving the sales clerk a sincere thank you as I make eye contact.
So here’s today’s challenge: take a break; slow down; breathe; look up and around. You may see someone doing the same thing. And you can both acknowledge your secret mission together! Or you may see someone lost and hurting. Someone that needs a little break themselves. When you do, I hope you jump at the chance to be love to them. The world needs so much more of that!
After learning to love God (worship), learning to love others is the second purpose of your life.
– Rick Warren