The Spiritual Discipline of Not Jaywalking

I take the bus to school. It’s a bit of a flash back to my elementary days, just with bigger people on the buses who listen to iPods. But in between where the bus drops me and my school is a set of lights.

Early on I decided I wanted to be a conscientious citizen and not jaywalk, following the directions of the red hand and the white walking man. However, something happened and still happens everytime I step up to that crosswalk. As I watch people ignore the red hand, and walk across the street anyway, my heart picks up its pace. It takes an effort of will to stand still and wait. I want to get where I’m going, I want to move, and I don’t want to look like I’m waiting.

Perhaps its strange that I have such a reaction to waiting to cross the street, but many Christians have similar reactions when it comes to slowing spiritually. In a culture that values the fast, the quick, and the ready, anything that hints towards still and slow is deemed stagnant. So we do our best to be busy, to fill our days with spiritual activities and keep forging forward with our spiritual walk.

But we might make just as much progress if we start approaching our lives as a spiritual sitting rather than a walk. It’s in the times of peace, when we pause and slowly push aside the clamoring voices vying for our attention and hear the voice of Christ. It’s when we willingly sit before him that we begin to realize his voice is not a whisper; we’ve just been shouting. In those moments, we begin to hear his refrain, “follow me.”

He repeats it over and over. But too often we either can’t hear him or we ignore him. We don’t want to risk looking unspiritual. We don’t want to admit that we need to stop doing some things (maybe even good things). We don’t want to admit that stillness is good because it’s in the still moments that we are most vulnerable, unable to hide behind our busyness and are purely confronted by the goodness and love of Christ.

That’s why not jaywalking has become a spiritual discipline for me; it’s a time, everyday, to remind myself to ignore the voices demanding I be busy, fast, and moving. It’s a time to slow down, recognizing that I make progress even if I’m not “moving.” Our souls do better when we slow down, and leave the moving to the Spirit. Maybe we can all try spending some time sitting with our Savior this week.

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3 thoughts on “The Spiritual Discipline of Not Jaywalking

  1. This is a great lesson we all need to remind ourselves of. I can tell you’ve done some serious thinking about it! We can set spiritual goals, but I don’t think we can set spiritual deadlines. What do you think Jesus’ goals for 30 years of his life were before he hit full time ministry? I’m sure he learned to wait on the Father.

  2. Sending you an email saying this is something I’m struggling with right now. Ecclesiastes has been good for me: quit striving after the wind. Hmm. Oh, and I admire you for not jaywalking. I always tried to get onto homeless guys for that, but now that I’m in India, the only way to cross the street is jaywalking, but they don’t really even have signals for cars, bikes, buses, rickshaws, etc., so it’s okay. 🙂

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