The lady in front of me kept apologizing for “taking so long” in the check out line.
I leaned on my cart and smiled first at her, then at the woman ringing up her groceries who appeared a little unimpressed with the situation given the long line at her till.
“It’s absolutely not a problem. I don’t live life in a rush,” I said.
She smiled back as she bagged her things. A few more comments, a question about her points card, and then it was my turn to be rung through.
As I waited for her to finish packing her cart before being able to start with mine, she looked at me with a little smile and said, “You know, I had to chuckle when you said that thing about not living life in a rush. You see, I have MS, so everything takes me forever to do. I literally can’t live in a rush.”
My heart went out to her. A heavy diagnosis, and yet the smile on her face was genuine. How beautiful.
She stopped at customer service as I went out to my car and unloaded my groceries still thinking about our conversation. Hoping to catch her before she left, I went back inside to help get her bags to her vehicle. I stood a few feet behind her as she finished at the counter, stepping up to her cart as she turned around.
“I was in a car accident when I was 16,” I said, as we made our way outside. “So I know what it’s like to have to choose just how many things you can do in a day.”
I learned her name was Marie, and she nodded, tears in her eyes. We walked into the rain and she opened up a little more.
“It’s taking one day at a time, this new way of life. And this diagnosis has been made easier by the kindness of people.”
She hugged me a few times, apologizing for taking up so much of my day. I told her not to apologize anymore. We parted ways and I don’t know if I’ll ever see her again, but Brandon and I prayed for her last night. A small point of connection made possible because neither of us hurry through life. What a gift.
This slower way of life has been a theme for me for a long time.
I’ve been worn down by all those seasons running from one thing to the next, forgetting details in the craziness, always feeling rushed from morning ’til night. But the truth is that I chose all the things in my schedule. I chose to say yes to things I should’ve said no to. I chose to be busy. I chose not to leave time for pause, even if just for half a split minute of the day.
I wanted to get to this new way of living for a while, but my depression made it mandatory. In order to get better, I had to stop rushing. I know the same’s not true for Marie, that MS doesn’t get better by saying no to things on your to do list, but the joy exuding from her – that’s the good stuff that comes when your whole mindset shifts to embrace a slower pace. Life’s better when you slow down and pay attention to it, when you choose to see the gifts you might not have seen if you’d rushed by them.
Being out of the fog of the worst days, I now know this slowed down way really is my favourite way of doing life. I have full days, yes, but I’m in control of what I fill them with. When things are especially full, the slow pace comes from noticing the smallest of gifts in the busiest of days; attempting to pin down a moment in time to thank God for the gift I’m noticing, even if just for a few seconds at a time. On regular days it means intentionally leaving time in my schedule between things so I have room to breathe, to meander, to be interrupted by blessings like Marie.
Life’s not meant to be rushed through.