This is day seven of a new series: 31 Letters from London. In October, I’m doing something a little different and writing to you about the realities of life as an expat; finding the nearness of God through random experiences with new culture. It’s important to begin here and find the collection of letters here. We’re breaking for Sabbath every Sunday.
On Sunday, my Sabbath was unusually busy. I woke up knowing what was on the agenda and resistance invited me to join her in my warm cozy bed. I was late to church. Because I spilled makeup, well, everywhere – my clothes, carpet and the scarf I was wearing around my neck.
When Harrison and I walked out of the house toward our Kensington church, I looked up at him and said, “You can go on if you want, I know you like to walk faster than I do.”
He looked down at me and replied, “Really?” and then took off down the pavement.
People walk fast in London. I have short legs and no matter how fast I try to walk, I feel like I’m last place in the race. Fast is not in my DNA; never has been.
I am often distracted by the beauty I see all around me – trees blushing with color, little girls in tutus pushing their tiny legs on scooters, dogs smelling every inch of concrete. If I walk without noticing the details I feel less than me.
It’s the same issue with writing. I am a slow processor which means it takes a while to know what God is trying to say through me. I once read somewhere that Emily Freeman writes and publishes a blog post in one hour. I wanted to cry after my heart wilted right there over the keyboard.
Theodore Roosevelt was right when he said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”
Lately, several people have commented about my writing saying I choose my words carefully. And while that is a perceptive compliment, I felt a hint of conviction. That I quickly turned into condemnation the longer I thought about it.
I watched my son walk briskly ahead of me, the space growing wider between us with each passing step and by the time I reached the traffic light on Addison Road, he was inside the church, invisible.
Anxiety welled up like a hot spring inside my chest. I pictured myself falling on my knees right there in the city and crying out in repentance, I’m sorry I’m so slow. I’m sorry I’ve turned what you’ve given me to write into a contest with perfectionism.
But I kept walking instead.
Writing these random letters about living in England have surprised me; they make me feel more vulnerable than usual. And on that walk to church, I discovered why that is exactly.
I learned to avoid criticism when the people who gave birth to me couldn’t be trusted to love well with words. And so, I learned to behave well and achieve high marks to avoid flying daggers of judgement that nearly sucked the life out of me as an adolescent.
But avoiding criticism means I lose the important attribute of being teachable, learning from my mistakes.
I don’t remember my H ever once saying anything to me that made me feel less than loved and accepted. And so, that is pure grace, isn’t it?
But when I write, I’m putting myself out there, being vulnerable with thousands of strangers. And if I’m completely honest, I worry you won’t like the unedited version of me.
When the traffic light turned green and it was safe to cross the street, I heard God whisper, I made you slow, and that’s why I chose you for the message of the book you are writing on Sabbath.
Each step after that was savored.
When I found the seat Harrison saved me on the second row next to him, we sang worship songs together. And tears streamed down my face.
When you forget who you are, remember Jesus sacrifice and the depth of love he has for all of us.
And your identity comes clearly into focus.
When I finally returned home after dark, I thought, I didn’t really have much of a Sabbath. Slipping shoes off aching feet, I recalled the day’s events. Countless random but meaningful conversations with people came rushing back.
And I heard this at the end of that assessment. “You are in Me and I am in you and that’s what Sabbath is, isn’t it? We spent the day together, not just for you but for the sake of others.”
Jesus died for you and me exactly the way we are, right now, sitting in our pajamas and bed head. Let’s just keep being the messy, slow, doubting, imperfect and special people God made us because this makes Him happy.
This is what I want to tell everyone I meet in London, especially when I notice the vacant stares of loneliness on their faces.
Sabbath helps me remember what matters most each week. I’m not sure how to live anymore without it.
PS. These pictures represent the places I pass on my walk to church.
Linking with Jennifer for #TellHisStory.