Friday, October 6, 2017

Left Ahead

I'm a fast walker.  It's a reflection of the way I'm wired and the way my mind works.  I don't like to mess around.  I'm a man on a mission.  It's difficult for me to enjoy the journey.  There is simply too much to do.

This summer we visited our eldest son, Jacob, who was serving an internship at a church in Rockford, Illinois.  Used to traveling by myself for business, when we landed in Chicago, I began walking toward baggage claim.  Three minutes in and I notice I’m by myself.  I look back, still walking, and notice that my daughter is just a few steps behind me, but my wife, Heather, is almost out of sight.

I impatiently wait for her to catch up before asking her to speed it up.  Then I’m off again.  Two or three minutes later, I stop and repeat the above encounter.  This leads to frustration on my part and anxiety and hurt on her part.

I’m thinking, "I want to see my boy!  I want to get in the rental car so I can get going!  Daylight is burning!  Chop chop!”

She’s thinking…well… 

I don’t know what she’s thinking.

And that’s the problem.

Twenty one years, now, we have been married and this dynamic has played out time and time again and never ended well.  How many times will it take?

Some of our best friends have been married as long as we have and they have been taking dance lessons for a few weeks and trying unsuccessfully to convince us to join them.  It’s comical to hear about how they are doing, but insightful, too.  It is causing them to learn to listen to each other, to be perceptive and to trust.

To lead and respond.

To move together.

The more I reflect on the dynamic in our relationship, the more I see this being left behind as a recurring symptom of what causes disruption in our oneness.

If I am not slowing down, can I hear her?

If I am not adjusting my pace, will I know her?

If I blindly and doggedly rush to where I’m going, will I be alone?  Will anyone be following?

How many other areas of my life is this dynamic playing out in?  At work?  With friends?  With my children?  At church?  With God?

Speed for speed’s sake or efficiency for efficiency’s sake is simply wasting energy.  Then again, so is fiddle-farting.  (I hate that term and use it here, on purpose.)

So I have to remind myself to lead by slowing down and matching our rhythms.  To stroll.  To listen and engage.  We will get to where we are going, it may just take a little longer.  But together is better.  No one wants to get left behind, and I’m tried of getting left ahead.

The flip-side: are you following someone like this, or trying to?

What are some good, gentle ways you have learned to get the other’s attention?

What are ways you have discovered to close the gap?