Thursday, July 28, 2011

How To Yield

I like "yield" signs.

The purpose of a yield sign, is that you slow down at an intersection, take note of what is or is not coming your way, and proceed accordingly.  Stop signs don't let you do that.  Four way stop signs are even worse - especially when it appears that two of you have arrived at opposing intersections at the same time, and you scramble to remember the rule of who gets to go first.  Then it gets awkward because the elderly lady has the right of way, but she's gesturing with her thumb for you to get going; get out of the way... and the guy behind you honks, and you sheepishly drive through, thinking "whatever..."  So, ya, I'd rather deal with a yield.

Yield, as defined by the World English Dictionary, in the form that I am referring to means:

to give way, submit, or surrender, as through force or persuasion: she yielded to his superior knowledge

When I think of the idea of yielding, I find that I am cautioned to slow down, take stock of what is around and THEN proceed.  In the same way we apply this idea to driving, I can apply this to my daily routine and how I interact with my world.

I've been reading about "slowing down" in my new book One Thousand Gifts (Ann Voskamp), and I have to admit, it's an idea that I've been frightfully needful of for the past couple of years.  Suddenly life overtakes you - and you're no longer waiting:

waiting to grow up,
waiting to meet SOMEONE,
waiting for marriage,
waiting to have kids and to build a home and family,
waiting for the kids to grow up...

and you realize, in a camera flash, that you are THERE.  And it's like you've been steamrolled by all the daily trappings, all the requirements, and all the responsibilities.

It's not that I don't like my life - but if all your time is spent 'trying to catch up' and it feels like your life is a galloping mustang; a wild ride, but quite out of control - then it is really hard to NOTICE what you have right in front of you.  I've often been guilty of that sin - the "always thinking of what is coming up and not noticing today" sin.  Even when I should be relaxed, rested, and enjoying special time with my kids or hubby, my mind races ahead and thinks... in a few hours I'll have to do this... in a couple days I have an appointment... next week will be especially busy because of that.... Then I am back in the present, fretting and wanting to get up and I do not notice the wonder and the blessing that I have RIGHT NOW.

If only I would yield to the present.  As I "drive along" my life, in all the activities and interactions, I must learn to slow down, take notice of my surroundings and proceed accordingly.  Busy, hurried people generally have trouble being grateful.  Busied, hurried people often lack joy.  Again, these are two of the issues I've pinpointed recently which I want to change.

When I was at the dentist last week, and I was wide-eyed, frightfully open-mouthed, waiting for the work to be done on my tooth (and wishing that it would be over), the dentist told me to concentrate on breathing through my nose.  I wondered what that was all about, yet I went ahead and did it, thinking that maybe it wouldn't be good for me to inhale some of the compounds they were using on my tooth.  Whatever the reasoning, it occurred to me a bit later that I was MUCH calmer.  The agony has lessened a great degree and I wasn't feeling nearly as panicked as before.  The next day, it popped into my head that he may have told me to breathe through my nose simply as a calming exercise to prevent patients from hyperventilating and freaking out in such a vulnerable position as you hear the sounds of drilling and feel the vibrations gyrating into your brain.

It is only when we slow down enough to take a deep breath, that it seems we can truly SEE the world around us.  Deep breaths also serve to calm us, preventing us from saying things we shouldn't say and from doing things we shouldn't do.

Slowing down to observe the blessings of NOW, and being thankful for today, also serves to circumvent the issue of worry in our lives.  If I live in a place of wide-eyed wonder, pausing long enough to fully observe the beauty of each moment - whether it is the way my toddler belly-laughs with his whole being; or the glorious sight of coffee beans dancing in the grinder, letting off an intoxicating scent; or the fantastic sight of the sky lit up with lightning streaks... if I would just take the time to notice these things and not be so preoccupied with tomorrow or even today's problems, life would seem a lot more precious and merry.

I feel it worthwhile to add that this, the idea of counting or observing your blessings, isn't always easy to do.  Sometimes life is truly clouded by circumstances, hurts and questions that leave us despairing, faithless and frustrated.  This is what makes the following words spoken by Paul so interesting to me, from Philippians 4:6,7 (The Message): 
Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns.  Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. 
He says to "let petitions AND praises shape your worries into prayers" (emphasis mine).  It seems that our problems, spoken out to God will transform into an effective prayer when we are able to take our eyes off of ourselves, and notice God's power. When we lift our heads up out of the dust, looking up at who He is, peace will unfold in our hearts.

Yielding means that I don't just careen through life, taking the chance that I may plow through an intersection and cause damage to myself and others along the way because of my RUSHING and HURRYING.  It means I may look a little more like a "Sunday driver"; driving slowly down the road (well under the speed limit) as I observe the neighbor's yard, see who is out on the town, and enjoy the breeze on my face with the windows rolled down.

The "Yield" sign reminds me to slow down and take a deep breath.  Is there something I'm missing?  Is there a conversation waiting to start?  Do I just need to calm down enough to really see the blessings around me, instead of blindly accelerating through my life?

Yield.  Give way.  Surrender.  Capture every moment and see the blessings.

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