Last week, I’m talking to a friend and we’re talking about faith, because that’s what I do with my friends. (We also happened to be eating, because I like doing that with friends, too.) I commented we often assume love is the focus of faith and we neglect our focus on grace, peace, humility, mercy, and patience – the virtues that made Jesus’ love so astonishing. I called them the ‘slow virtues’, because all of them require a person slows down in order to properly execute them, and she chuckled. Laughing is another thing I like doing with friends.
The next evening, my husband and I took our younger two kids roller skating. It’s something we like doing and used to do more often, and although it’d been quite some time since we’d hit the rink, we were still pretty smooth on those wheels. I’m not sure why I couldn’t have been that smooth in jr. high, when roller skating skill would have benefited me greatly, but agility wasn’t in the cards dealt my thirteen year old self, and I’ve made peace with that.
Now it happened we had a coupon for admission – a good one – and it didn’t take long to figure out we weren’t the only ones. The rink wasn’t overly crowded, but every parent with young kids must have seen that same coupon and said to themselves, “You know, my child is a disaster on wheels. Really quite terrible, actually, and it’s painful to watch, but heck, if it’s only $3 to get this kid off the Ipad and into harm’s way, then I’m all in. In fact, I’ll invite the whole neighborhood.” Mmmmmm…I’m so glad they did.
So I’m zipping around the rink the way I wished I could at thirteen, and the most clumsy children are weaving in front of me with walkers made of PVC – the roller skating version of training wheels on bikes or gutter guards at the bowling alley – and I’m guessing they probably know a lot about how to get around in virtual worlds on Ipads, but they are completely oblivious as to how to navigate the real world. They’re skating the wrong direction, either coming straight at me or attempting to dart across the rink rather than around, and I’m having to touch more stranger’s bodies than I’m used to, and even though the exercise was getting my heart pumping, there was another heat rising.
I did myself a favor and took a little time out – a few times.
And sitting there, it occurred to me – the slow virtues aren’t just the subtle disciplines that have a calm presence about them, they’re also the virtues I’m slowest in applying. They’re not my natural instinct in tight situations, when my rough edges appear. They’re the virtues I exercise sometimes but haven’t practiced enough to keep me from tripping over someone else’s cumbersome flaw or errant contraption.
When obstacles and hurdles blindside me and the heat starts rising, it’s peace and mercy that help me navigate better. When grace, humility, and patience are my consistent disciplines, I’m more agile and more likely to respond with gentle dignity and sincerity. Love is just how I roll. I think this is what Jesus was saying (and showing) all along, I’ve just been a little slow in catching the mission. Or maybe I need more practice. It’s a little of both, I think.
Truth is for all, OMT is for all. If it’s helpful, feel free to share.