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Jen Pollock Michel

( author + writer + speaker )

Catching Your Breath

God's way with us is waiting. A friend, speaking at a local women's event, had, in six words, summed up profound spiritual truth.

In the last several days, when in my best efforts to race and accomplish and check something off my list, I've been halted. Stopped. Forced to wait.

I've waited behind long lines of traffic as I've slowed to a stop because a noon-day construction project is underway. (Really? Must we repair the roads in the middle of the day? Can we be less considerate to those of us demanding that time surrender to our relentless demands?)

I've waited at the deli counter. He's new and friendly, I tell myself, all the while staring down the manager's smiling picture who promises me the best service and the highest quality products. I compose a speech I will deliver when I fortune to meet him, apprising him as to how more efficiently train his employees and staff his deli counter. The minutes evaporate, and when the sliced turkey is handed to me and he apologizes for the delays, I nod and assure him, "No problem." Liar.

I wait at the post office. Audrey had gathered rocks from our camping trip (in September!) and had packaged them each individually in envelopes for her friends in the States. I have exactly nine minutes to accomplish this errand before I race to pick the twins up from preschool. The women behind the counter feels each envelope quizzically.

"What are you mailing here?"


"Oh no, I'm sorry, but these aren't properly packaged at all." And then she begins to meticulously explain which bubbled envelope would have been more appropriate, how much they'll each cost to send, and I'm wearing my, oh-thank-you-for-your-helpfulness kind of smile, while the clocks on the wall inform me of the minutes ticking away in Tokyo, Paris, London, and New York. I don't have time for this, but there's absolutely no interrupting her.

I race and I hurry, and it doesn't matter that I'm no longer homeschooling or that the writing project is finished because there's. never. enough. time.

Ann Voskamp's words from her book, One Thousand Gifts, have articulated what I've long felt.

"I speak it to the God: I don't really want more time; I just want enough time. Time to breathe deep and time to laugh long, time to give You glory and rest deep and sing joy and just enough time in a day not to feel hounded pressed, driven, or wild to get it all done - yesterday. . .  I just want time to do my one life well."

And so I realize that I've been racing these past ten years of raising this brood of kids. It's a game I've played and mastered: how to squeeze one more efficient minute from this, my tube of time. And here, in this new season of kids in school and three quiet mornings a week to myself, time has slowed, but I'm still breathing hard. It's what I've known. It's familiar to me.

And I learn that breathing is hardly involuntary. Catching my breath will take resolve. Slowing is a discipline. Waiting is a gift.