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A Speed Limit on Our Routines

By Carter Rief

For the last couple of weeks, my life has felt a lot slower. I think most of the Capital Fellows would agree. Our schedules have dwindled from days packed with volunteering, meeting with mentors, classes, searching for jobs, host family dinners, Roundtable, working, and of course, the Fruit-of-the-Spirit-Smashing DC commute; now, the Fellows hop on a couple of Zoom calls per week with John, Shirley and Lauren, as well as take classes online with Bills Clark and Fullilove on Friday. We are persevering through all of the changes, but things are, in a word, slower. And this slower pace of life looks and feels very different for all us, I think.

For some, this newly imposed speed limit on our routine has been somewhat refreshing. Perhaps it’s given us time to cut out a few bad habits and pick up a couple of better ones. Projects around the house are finally getting done. Books lists are shrinking. Miles are being run. Cutting out commutes, activities, and normal social interaction has freed us up to fly through our list of to-do’s. Creativity in commonplace activities is at an all-time high. Daily devotionals are a reality, not just a short-lived resolution. This new, unexpected and slower pace of life is yielding some good fruit.

For others, however, this slower pace has been anything but refreshing. It’s been nerve-wracking, disorienting, a nightmare realized. Bad habits have become the normal liturgy of life: sleep patterns are off-rhythm or non-existent, screen time is up, and anxiety is no longer episodic, but now ever-present. It has caused increased tension in the house as we’ve spent more and more time around family. Fears about finances, job searches, the health of loved ones, and so much more swirl around our heads faster and faster without any answers grounding assurance. This unexpected halt of our normal lives has been, in short, bad. (And before I go any further, I want to say that this list is far too short, and too mild, to encompass the breadth and depth of pain and suffering caused by this pandemic. The pain, the tears, the nerves, the anxiety: they are all real and not to be glossed over.)

Honestly, my experience with this slower pace has been a little bit from both of those lists: I’ve read more of what I wanted, I’ve gotten out to run much more than I had been able to, and yet I’ve also had trouble getting to sleep, I’ve been more unproductive than I want to admit while working from home (Chris, please forgive me!), and my screen time went up by a, uh, large percentage. And I can’t help but think, “Well, Lord, why are you slowing us all down? This isn’t what I planned for. Working from home is not as cool as I thought it would be. I’m worried about getting COVID-19. I’m worried about my family getting it. And I can’t even comprehend the suffering this invisible monster is causing and will continue to cause. Where are you, Lord? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? (Psalm 10:1)

I don’t have an answer to that. All that I know is that we are called to continue forward, even if it’s a little bit slower than we’re used to, even if it means living like we are not accustomed to, even if it means God is, in this time, asking us to walk instead of run.

There’s a documentary called “Godspeed: The Pace of Being Known”. It tells the story of a pastor who had to learn how to walk instead of run, a pastor who embraced a different pace of life and ministry in a small Scottish parish. The pastor explains this practice of slowing down, this practice of walking door-to-door instead of running from meeting to meeting, as an almost visceral connection to the life and ministry of Jesus. Think about it: Our Savior moved along, approaching the woman at the well, the paralytics, and the tax collectors, all at about 3 mph. He walked. He walked beside his disciples after the resurrection. He walked on water. (He didn’t even have to sprint across it to keep from sinking!) Jesus moved at the pace that is throwing just about all of us in a tizzy.

Adjusting to this slower pace of life hasn’t been easy. It’s messy, and it takes a heap of patience, trust forgiveness, and maybe even an extra glass of wine. And yet, I think enduring through this messiness at a much slower pace gives each of us a better feeling for the pace at which our Savior moved while on the earth. There were no hour-long commutes, no chorus of notifications to keep the ministry “on track,” nothing like that. Our God moved slowly as He walked the earth, and the Hope that we cling to is that our God continues to walk alongside each of us, keeping in step with our pain and fairs, our good days and bad days during this time plagued by COVID-19. And I can’t help but think that there’s some part of Him that is thankful that some of us are finally slowing down.

In Christ, Carter


Benefits of The Fellows Initiative

You probably already know that Capital Fellows is one of 31 fellows programs in The Fellows Initiative network. But, did you know that the sponsors of TFI offer great benefits to Capital Fellows alumni? For example, Reformed Theological Seminary offers a 33% tuition discount for 5 years, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary offers a 40% tuition discount! You can learn more about TFI's sponsors by clicking here.

If you know of a graduate school, seminary, employer, or other organization that would be interested in becoming a sponsor, please contact TFI by clicking here. Thanks!


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