Miss Ruby – as my grandmother was known to her friends- was a hardworking, dignified Southern lady. Her husband (my grandfather) died tragically when their children were very young. She raised my Dad and my aunt as a single parent, working two jobs, opening her home to boarders, and selling cakes and pies she baked from scratch.
She had a lot of wisdom and wow, was she resourceful! But I can’t imagine she had the luxury of choosing the ideal timetable for any of the major decisions she had to make. She couldn’t take extra days or weeks to consider her options; she had bills to pay, repairs to make, kids to clothe and feed. I expect she was in survival mode much of the time.
I doubt she ever sat back and asked herself, “Do I really need to decide this today?” and then put off an important life choice so she could contemplate the various options more thoroughly. The urgency she lived with was legitimate.
But we as a society are under almost constant pressure – from marketers, colleagues, the media – to take a position and do it quickly, even when immediate action isn’t necessary. The sale price is for a limited time only; the deal has to get done today; the line is getting longer and longer. We get drawn into a false sense of urgency without even realizing it and risk making hasty, ill-considered decisions.
Certainly there are times when we need to make decisions promptly. (Should I call the paramedics? Do I get on this train or wait for the next one? Should I pour water on that blaze?) And clearly there are many single parents like my grandmother who continue to experience lives of true immediacy every day.
The challenge, I think, is to recognize when we’re succumbing to false urgency and reel ourselves back in. If lives aren’t at stake, if serious damage isn’t imminent, and if waiting is a a viable option, why not? We can hurry things along, or we can make room for God to move in our lives first, and maybe begin to see possibilities we didn’t see before.
I’m finding a great deal of freedom these days in stepping back when I can, and asking myself, “Do I really need to decide this today?” Patience has never been my strong suit and some of the dumbest things I’ve ever done in my life have been because I got ahead of myself and left God out of the equation. I’m learning the final result can be so much better when I just sit with my thoughts for awhile – not procrastinating, but allowing God to weigh in before I move ahead.
Miss Ruby had a hard life and she didn’t have much latitude for putting off decisions so she could think about them longer. For her, the answer to “Do I really have to decide this today?” was probably almost always yes.
What I remember about her, though, is that she walked in lockstep with her Christian beliefs and she always allowed space in her life for God. She lived a life of deep faith, even when she must have been exhausted and overwhelmed, confident that He was informing her choices every step of the way.
Like I said, she had a lot of wisdom.
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- I’ll take the red carnation, thank you – revisiting an odd tradition - May 2, 2016
- The surprising thing about “weakness” - April 20, 2016
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