Christmas is the busiest time of the year. It is sad that it comes so late in December when all the stores are crowded and people are everywhere. Is the pace of life too fast? Does cleaning up your dining area mean throwing fast food bags out of the back of the van? Has your grocery list been on the refrigerator so long that some of the products don't exist any more? Do you drive through McDonald's and ask for Christmas dinner to go? Do you forget your twin brother's birthday? Do you ask at the dollar store, "How much is this?" Is the pace of your life too fast?
Did you ever wonder why a pigeon walks so funny? Pigeons have to stop to focus. Humans appear to have the same problem. They may need to stop before they can focus. Not slow down, stop.
There is a difference between stopping and slowing down. A man was pulled over for running a stop sign. He argued to the officer that he had slowed down and looked both ways. The officer said, "You have to stop." They continued the discussion, the man insisting he had slowed down and the officer insisted that he had to stop. He told the officer that there was no difference between stopping and slowing down. With that remark, the officer said, "Get out of the car." The officer started to beat the man with a billy stick. "Sir," said the officer, "would you like for me to stop or just slow down?" He understood the difference between stopping and slowing down. We need to stop and think about where life is headed and what kind of connections we are making. This is a sign of maturity.
I remember what it was like when my grandkids were a little younger. They can be immature, and they don't say, "Papa, I'm getting cranky and irritable and I'm not sharing well. I need a nap." They've never said that to me. Yet I'm around adults to whom I want to say, "You're cranky, you're irritable, you're not sharing well and you need a nap."
The best way to increase your pace in life is to add some space. Space is the difference between your limit and your load, the place where you have a little left over. It's like having a little breath left after reaching the top of the stairs. Space is having a little money left over at the end of the month. Space is having a little time left over before the deadline. Space is having a little bit left over.
Our society doesn't have leftovers. Remember the days of leftovers? I do. What about the turkey sandwiches with cranberry sauce after the big Christmas dinner? I love those turkey sandwiches and look forward to the leftovers. Of course, a friend of mine said that he always had leftovers at his house. He never saw an original meal. Leftovers are nice. It means you have enough space in the pace of your life.
Let me personalize this. Space would mean you have enough time to read this article twice. Let me visualize it for you. Let's say you are planning to spend Christmas in Florida. The travel agent books your ticket with a layover in Atlanta. You are scheduled to arrive in Atlanta at 11:46 and depart on the next plane at 11:48. You have a two-minute connection in Atlanta. What do you think? You might think that you could make that if you sit at the front of the plane and carry-on your baggage. Maybe you can be the first off the plane. Maybe your connecting flight will be late and this plane will be early. Maybe your plane will be parked at the same gate as your connecting flight. If things are perfect, this might just work.
Most of us get up each day and think we can make that two-minute connection, sure that we can make it all work. Maybe things will happen just the way they need to happen for you to get through the day. Guess what? It never happens that way. There are no one-hour delays, only three-hour delays. Planes never connect in the same gate area. I've never had a plane early and the next one late. Life isn't that way.
A man was driving on the Tri-state freeway in Chicago. His hat blew off in the middle of busy traffic. He ran into traffic to get his hat and was killed instantly. The article about the accident read, "It's amazing that you can lose everything chasing nothing."
This Christmas, let's stop. Not slow down, stop. Think about the connections in life. Are we spending our time shopping for the people we love with no time left over for them? Let's leave enough space to stop. Otherwise, the pace will squeeze the love, the life, and the laughter out of you. If you want to finish the race with grace, put a little space in your life. Enjoy the leftovers.
Charles Lowery is founder and president of LIFE, Inc. and is in a full time speaking ministry. You may contact LIFE, Inc. at 505-798-0800 or www.charleslowery.com.