Stop and smell the roses

by Christine Berglund

“Stop and smell the roses.” We have often heard it said, and said it ourselves. We may understand the concept of appreciating the beauty that surrounds us, but fail to notice the first word in this phrase — Stop.

It is usually our habit to smell the roses as we go scurrying by them, glancing out of one corner of the eye as we try not to trip on that garden hose left on the walk after a grueling day of weeding and mulching.

A harried, hectic life does not mean we never enjoy the sweet blessings that continually come our way. Hundreds, if not thousands of small blessings appear, sometimes noticed but more often not, from hour to hour as we cram our minutes with frenzied activity.

But there is a marked value in making ourselves just stop. New studies have shown that multi-tasking is actually counter-productive. Multi-tasking, a word coined in the computer engineering industry comparing our brains to microprocessors, turns out to cause too much competition and interruption of brain activity.

Is it any wonder that our enjoyment of life is stunted and distorted by endless multi-tasking? Sometimes it is just necessary to put the burdens of our responsibilities on the shelf for a few moments and just take stock of life and of God’s goodness.

“If there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Philippians 4:8 ASV).

Can you really think if you don’t stop and make time to do it?

Jesus withdrew from the thronging crowds to be alone in a garden, on a mountain, or on the water in a boat with his closest friends. He knew the value of “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10a).

Oh, I can comprehend the last part. God is evident to me every day. But that tricky “being still” thing is not compatible with my Type A personality.

I overheard one of my children talking about my so-called spare time. “Have you ever seen her sit down?” I knew then and there that I had a problem. I couldn’t “stop.”

As much as I love to be productive, I must make a conscious effort to stop and smell the roses. It is then that I can allow my anxious soul to settle enough to get my thoughts organized, to weed out the unnecessary ones, and to really talk to God.

There is so much in God’s Word about joy, and about rest and reflection. Did he not require the Israelites to rest on the seventh day? Why is taking time to just stop my frenzied activities so difficult? Why is stopping and resting treated like another chore?

My husband and I had the good pleasure this week of spending a quiet evening with another workaholic and her husband. Even as we began to eat, she was still out in the flower beds, collecting seeds.

I must admit that I understood, but I was insistent that she take a few moments to relax. Afterward, she said just sitting on the patio with some herbal tea was so refreshing she felt like she had had a vacation!

Being still is therapeutic. It lowers blood pressure, helps manage chronic pain, and is a natural muscle relaxer.

While the health industry is touting the benefits of exercise, they have forgotten the benefit of purposefully stopping and slowing down to relax. Both are important. God set the example from the creation. Just stop. Stop and smell the roses!

“Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say, Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4)

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