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  • Katie Smith

Shifting Gears

My husband, like many, has been working at home for the last six, or maybe it's seven, weeks now. Like many families, we have found a "new rhythm," but due to the fact that our bedroom (and my dresser to be exact) has become his office/desk, he decided last Friday that he'd start roaming the house for new vantage points and scenic views based on what seemed the most stable at any given moment.

His own stability prompted this nomadic existence; I for one thought it seemed miscalculated, like he haphazardly constructed an automobile in the middle of the night. Yet through catching snippets of his daily conference calls, I gained a new respect for how all those gears are meticulously placed. Instead of closed doors, most of our mechanical parts have been exposed in our tightly enclosed quarters, and I have to express my own miscalculation from years past.

Knowing the challenge of hasty "hat changes" or gear shifts is one thing, but openly viewing the clutch and transmission work is another story altogether, especially now that dad's decompression commute has been eradicated, and his roles and responsibilities have shifted. Being able to abruptly switch gears from desk-job to dad requires practice, but even the most skilled driver knows that downshifting too quickly, too often, causes damage to the transmission, clutch and engine. The most significant components of the car start to collapse.

Any new mom, may balk at this comparison, assuming motherhood abruptly shifts your life from smooth-sailing autopilot to a sleepless first gear, and back to heart racing fifth in the middle of the night; not to mention all the bodily/hormonal shifts that occur over the course of the first two years. Getting back to work or a "new norm" happens precisely when maternity leave ends.

But I'm not referring to those life changes that offer you nine months of preparation. I'm speaking to the-rug-that-is-pulled-out-from-under-you moments. The car that literally dies on the side of an abandoned road. You think that you have three more months, but your baby shows up twelve weeks early. The routine check-up that leaves you with two months to live. A husband, wife, or child who doesn't come home one day. The profession that terminates mid-shift. The cold that turns to Coronavirus.

Sometimes we turn up the music in order to drown out the sound of the dying engine. We don't want to stop shifting gears in hopes that we will find autopilot again. We drink more to numb pain. We work more to avoid home. We sleep more to avoid life. We run more to avoid looks. We do more to gain acceptance.

These days many can commune over the casualties caused by immediate downshifts. However, instead of letting those gears burn, what if we took a long, deep breath after the gear displacement? A silent prayer, if you will, lifted up in nothing more than a breath. God help me. I have lifted many a prayer in moments of shock when my mind couldn't grasp the magnitude of what my ears had audibly received. As many can attest, shock helps numb the body naturally until eventually, in time, our minds and bodies can get back to neutral.

Too often we seek to regain our past "normalcy" because we assume peace from the past is the only mode of peace . Through the life shift, albeit hard to withstand at points, we can learn new gears of peace that we never knew existed. If we look only in the rearview mirror when driving, we are sure to crash. Instead, maybe we need to see a new side road ahead.

Maybe we need to stop, drop, and roll? Seriously! What if we just played with our kids? Talked to the elderly neighbor six feet away? Sat still and asked God what to do with our last two months on earth? Asked for help in the most breathless gear shifts that we will ever experience. Instead of busily getting back to normal, stop, breathe, and ask God to help you as you shift to neutral and wait to gear up again. Even if you just have a three second commute, those three seconds can equate to a prayer that helps you shift from one extreme to another. By grace alone, we can gracefully get to a new gear again, and it will be even better than we thought possible.


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Apr 30, 2020

I love you, Katie! Thank you for this! I’m so glad you are writing here. ❤️-Lindsey Maiocco

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