Heart of an Ent

Do you ever just want to get things done? That’s probably a lame question. Everyone wants to do something, even if their “something” is, say, sleeping, resting, taking the day off from one’s work to collect themselves and prepare for more work to come. Most times, though, “getting things done” is about the work itself, finishing something that needs finishing, getting it over with so we can move on to other things.

[This is probably why my room is a mess. There are other things I want to “get done,” and cleaning my room isn’t usually one of them.]

Everything is in overdrive. Instant communication. Fast food restaurants. Multimedia in the palm of your hand. Rushing to work. Even work deadlines become shorter and shorter. It’s a fact that people don’t like distance between themselves and what they want. We’re always in a rush to get on with and acquire the new, dismissing the old.

Okay, so I’m as guilty as anyone. I like having things when I want them, but really, when does that happen for the bulk of us? Real people have real lives, real families, real jobs, real problems; and fake people die in hollow bubbles as a natural course of their false lives. Who that’s real ever has time to get what they want when they want it?

When we finally do finish our work and move on to the things we actually want to do, then we enter rest. We slow down after the fact, but how often do we take a slow approach to things these days? Did someone tell you about something “fun” to do, and you immediately did it? Easy to do, right? I mean, how many of us downloaded that stupid game Flappy Bird? What a waste of time, right? Yet we just can’t seem to stop. What about booze? It’s supposed to make you feel good and help you forget about your troubles for a while, right? Yet when alcoholism sets in, one can hardly function without it. (Interestingly enough, one can hardly function with it, but I digress.)

Clearly, it’s important for us to be done with things and move on as quickly as humanly possible, make as many quick decisions as we can allow, and shut out most else.

[Mildly jarring subject change, but not really.]

Any Lord of the Rings fan will know that Ents, our friendly neighborhood sentient trees, aren’t hasty about anything. If it isn’t worth taking a long time to think about, it isn’t worth doing. My favorite quote from an Ent called Treebeard is, “You must understand, young Hobbit, it takes a long time to say anything in Old Entish. And we never say anything unless it is worth taking a long time to say.” This reminds me of the value of the passage of scripture that reminds us to be slow to speak and slow to anger.

At the pace our world moves, it can often be hard to slow down not only because of the way inertia works— that objects (and social trends apparently) tend to stay in motion if unhindered or remain still if unbothered—but because resistance can cause us to feel a couple of possible difficult emotions: (1) we may feel guilty that our lack of hastiness may be getting in the way of the progress of our little corner of the culture or (2) we may feel afraid to lose momentum in our lives, which can be difficult to regain.

But why should we feel guilty? It’s not wrong to stay off the bandwagon. It’s not a heinous crime to establish parameters for your life and be slow to expand your boundaries to include ways that may not be beneficial in the long run despite an immediately intriguing appearance or intoxicating touch. Protecting one’s own soul isn’t psychosis. Sure, there’s a time for change, and there’s a time to open your mind, but we were never called to accept all things that seem pure as pure. The world will still turn without your conformity, and it may even begin to turn more stably.

And what’s wrong with losing momentum? We were designed to react to our environments and the state of our own bodies in order to take time to rest, thereby avoiding overexertion, because our Creator knows that despite being made to be like Him, we are not Him, meaning that work uses energy, and energy takes time to recover. He knew that if He didn’t form us the way He did, we would burn out and die. Imagine what would happen to your car if you let all the fluids run dry without taking time to do tuneups, refuel, change oil, service broken parts. Eventually, it would become undrivable. The same thing happens to us when we overexert ourselves physically and spiritually, but it shouldn’t take emergency to stay in order. We should seek always to be ready to respond to our calling in Christ, whether that means being in motion or being at rest, or whether that means doing things as they’ve always done or undergoing revolution.

Neither case is wrong. Why then are we so hasty to abandon everything that has been established, rebel against every institution, to establish our own? What is it that’s so special about everything new, any internal whim, that makes us want to chase it; and what is so terribly wrong with change and things that are different from the way we know things to be, that we rush to dismiss them in preservation of ways of life that may not be so great to begin with? Governments and people become corrupt no matter how well they begin, so there is a time and place for rebellion, but do we ignore any merits we may be leaving behind to pursue the shiny new thing that tastes better now but may leave bitterness in your belly?

What then? If we reject the common way of life, we’re being too hasty; and if we reject changing our lives, we’re being too hasty? Of course not! It seems like a lose-lose situation, but when you slow down, stop, look around, praise, pray, ponder, seek, immerse yourself in truth and in Jesus, surrounding yourself with everything pure and lovely, virtuous, praiseworthy, things stop seeming so bad. You might not spend all or even a majority of your time on one thing, or small bits of all your time on everything, but unless it’s worth spending a long time on, it’s really probably not worth spending any time on (you can quote Tolkien on that). You don’t have to be current. You don’t have to make a snap decision. You don’t have to know everything in an instant. God never asked you to replace Him, only to trust Him.

So slow down. It’s okay.

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