In the last two years my wife and I have made two major relocation decisions. In July 2014 we, in conjunction with my retirement from the military, we made the decision to move our family to the Washington D.C. metro area. We had no job, no home and a baby five months from her arrival. All we had there were a couple of friends that we knew we wanted to build a church with, so we went. It was a pretty neat, and terrifying, time. Sixteen months later we’re a month into our next big transition to Boise, Idaho.
We learned a ton during our time in DC. God used that time to solidify certain callings in my heart and reorganize and replace certain notions I assumed I had a full grasp on. To be honest, we went to DC with the belief that we would be there for three to five years, learning what God needed us to learn. But, by the time we left, God had made it clear that our time there was finished and He had other things for us in Boise. We’re still not positive what those other things are, but I’ll let you know when we know.
With as much as we had learned in our time in DC, God (through a great friend – Thanks, Isabelle) has used this last month, in the midst of being without a home, job or any solid idea about what we’re doing, to teach me something that is almost more important than anything over the last fifteen months: Cherish the pause button.
Sometime in life we are given the opportunity to hit the “pause” button. That does not always mean that everything stops; sometimes just certain things stop and the rest of life continues. Sometime other circumstances or people choose to press pause for us and we don’t have a say in it. Regardless of how it gets pushed, I have learned there are some great benefits to it.
The pause button is a great opportunity to rest: physically, mentally and emotionally. For us, in leaving DC, we were not physically tired, but there was some mental and emotional rest that we needed. I was not as astute as my wife in recognizing that. She mentioned the need to rest during our transition while I was running around saying, “I’m good. Let’s get this thing going and start something new!” She was super gracious and gentle in helping me realize I needed to rest; she’s brilliant that way. For some that rest will include a time for healing.
Sometimes life hits pause in an abrupt way. It can be the end of a relationship, the loss of a career, or the loss of a loved one. In those moments it may seem like someone hit the “stop” button. They didn’t; I promise you that life starts again. During that time of pause, rest needs to include healing as a main theme. That can look like more one-on-one time with God (and should), professional counseling or therapy or just coffee with a friend; really anything that moves you toward healing. The pause button is a great opportunity to rest.
The pause button is a great opportunity for perspective. While we were in DC we were busy. Busy with life, busy with building a church, and busy with work. In the midst of our busyness, perspective was not something that I had readily available. Because I know perspective is important, I try to always make sure that I’m engaged with people, my wife, and a couple close friends, who offer differing perspectives. But, the truth is, even with all your best efforts, busyness is often an enemy of perspective. Busyness reminds you that there is always something to do and, unless you are intentional about it, typically does not leave the door open for very much perspective. If you let it, the pause button allows that door to swing wide.
Sometimes the perspective is something new, sometimes it is a realignment of perception you already have. With our departure from DC God has realigned a number of perceptions I have about ministry and given me new perspective on what it could look like to “do” life with others. I’m excited about Boise. The pause button is a great opportunity for perspective.
The pause button is a great opportunity for appreciation. This benefit is loaded with all sorts of stuff. For me, I have come to appreciate, more than I already did, my roles as a husband and father. I get to help get my son ready for school and then drop him off. Then I get to come home and hang out with my wife and daughter until naptime. During naptime I get to write, have coffee with friends, watch television, nap, or read. Then I get to hang out with my wife and daughter again. We pick up our son from school. Then depending on the week, my wife and I alternate, I take my son to hang out. We cook dinner together, eat together, and then put the kids to bed together. Then once the one year old decides she is actually ready to sleep, my wife and I hang out. Then bed and repeat the next day. I love it.
And I love that my wife loves it. The other day she said to me, “It’s going to suck when you have to go back to work. I love that you get to hang out with us all day.” The pause button has allowed me to look at what I have in my family, thank God for the roles I get to fulfill in husband and father, and really appreciate the gift they are and this time I have with them. I am confident that God is using this time as a memorial stone so that when we hit the “play” button, He can bring me back to it and remind me of the appreciation I felt and why I get to be a husband and dad. There is something that God wants to help you appreciate during your pause. Let Him show you. The pause button is a great opportunity for appreciation.
Recently I had the opportunity to meet with Mike Loomis. He is pretty awesome. During our talk he reminded me that the ability to be, what he calls, location-independent is a gift and blessing and that not everyone has the ability or opportunity to be. It is a blessing; scary, but still a blessing. So I realize that even though I was able to voluntarily hit the pause button on a large portion of our life, not everyone can. But you can hit it on specific areas that you feel need to be paused, even if it is for just a short time. In those moments, be intentional about rest, perspective and appreciation. Write it down if you have to. And for those that life and circumstances hit the pause button for, you can still be intentional about those things.
Even when it seems difficult we can still cherish the pause button.