We are talking a LOT these days about momentum. Alex has been into swings since day one, and now, at 4 years old, I am convinced that pumping is possible, potentially revolutionizing his swing experience. Drew tried out the swings the other day for the first time and was in heaven. In addition to pumping, we were talking with Alex about momentum in regards to pedaling his bicycle.
Trying to get the legs going in a rhythm, picking up speed, trying to look ahead and steer simultaneously. It’s a lot to handle. Almost too much to remember and then implement. When do these skills become second nature? When do we internalize and live into the momentum?
I’m reading Mark Labberton’s book “The Dangerous Act of Loving Your Neighbor” right now….in an internet book club. Ten of us, forging friendships over the last 20 years through our connections at First Presbyterian Church in Berkeley, are communicating through a blog site to read Mark’s book this fall. Everyone is flung throughout the country, and actually, the world, and yet, we are attempting to connect weekly about the ideas and themes and challenges Mark presents.
This week, the concept of momentum has been on my heart. He writes, “We can peek out and see and feel for others beyond this side of things, maybe even catching a glimpse of that other side. But we are like rubberneckers on the freeway–maybe we look, but then the momentum picks back up and we get on with where we were headed. We may not even remember we ever slowed down or saw anything that should keep us from the mall. And rubberneckers never help. They just slow things down and annoy everyone. The pressure is on: just keep moving.” pg. 46, Chapter 1
Can you relate to that? The need to just keep going otherwise you might just not get back up? I feel that every night. I race, frenetically, prior to putting the boys down to bed. Racing to be sure all the dishes are washed and toys picked up and counters wiped down. Keep the momentum. Keep the momentum. Don’t stop. Don’t slow down. I do this because I know my nature well enough. That when the boys are down to bed successfully, my ability to function and follow through on almost anything is tapped out.
In light of momentum in regards to caring for and serving others, Mark poses the question, “How does your life’s momentum affect your capacity for empathy: entering into the lives and need of others, especially those who have no tie or evident benefit to your life?” I don’t want to live in constant guilt about this. I know my life stage makes the two little buggies my biggest area of service right now. Well, I guess THREE folks…Sally counts.
The question that keeps moving around in my mind is this, though, “How do we answer these questions about empathy, service and momentum as mothers of young children?” I find myself trying to balance over-committing, almost to the detriment of putting my kids second and then, to over-correct, wanting to pull out of everything so as to keep life calmer. That might be an oxymoron in our family. “CALM”??? Maybe not.
I know that serving in ways I have previously, especially with youth, just isn’t possible these days. Afraid to completely lose any momentum, though, I am working through some possible opportunities for service, weighing the costs, and praying a lot these days. I want to know how to slow down life’s momentum enough to allow emotional space for empathy and the chance to enter into the lives and needs of others. I truly find that doing so tends to give me more emotional energy to serve my closer sphere, my family. That may be in direct relationship to my extroverted personality, but I also believe that God does give us bandwidth, and even abundance, when we enter in and serve, a little beyond our comfort zone or capacity. God meets us in those places of barrenness and gives abundance, manna, for our survival.
What’s on the horizon, then? What lies just beyond our vision and ability to see and predict? No doubt, opportunities. Chances to enter in and serve, if we slow down the culturally-driven momentum long enough to see and respond.
What, then, is the cost of empathy? Conversely, what is the cost of momentum? And where, if it exists!!, is the happy medium?!?