It’s the simplest thing, really, and yet often hard to do, it seems.
The pause. It all comes down to this, I’m realizing. As in, our life depends on it. Our salvation depends on it. The flourishing of humanity depends on it.
Let me explain. Without morality, our world would crumble in an instant. We are moral people, made thus by our moral God. Morality has taken on a negative tone in this age, but I’m here to offer a different vision of it. I’m here to say morality is very, very good, and we can’t do without it.
And for morality to work, the pause has to happen. What I mean by pause is…that moment of restraint. The little bit of time to think before acting. The chance to hold back from our reactive, human inclinations and choose another path.
Do you see where I’m heading now? And do you see why it’s such a big thing?
Think about it as it relates to social media. We read something that rubs us the wrong way and immediately, our brain engines begins firing. We want to engage. But should we? And if we do, what should we say? Does it matter? We live in a world that seems to be leaning in the direction of it not mattering, and yet I think it does, a great deal.
The pause can change the whole outcome of the conversation, or whether we even have a conversation, or whom we have it with.
I’m coming to see the pause button as a gift from God to allow us enough time to challenge concupiscence (the inclination toward sin) and do what’s right. Often, the right thing is not the first thing that comes to mind. If you’re human, you know what I’m talking about, and I am the first among those who have failed in this at times.
Since my earliest days I’ve been quick to react, but my first reaction hasn’t always been the most prudent. The older I get, the more I am getting this. I still don’t do it perfectly, and when I don’t, I know it. I feel it. I didn’t pause long enough and now I’ve gotten myself in a mess. I should have utilized the pause.
Have you ever paused before acting, then acted, and felt relief, knowing that if you’d reacted on gut instinct everything could have turned out much differently, far worse?
The pause matters. But without developing one’s conscience, the pause could end up being a waste of time, a spinning of one’s wheels, fruitless. So there must be something there to begin with; a base to build upon.
God put something in our moral well to get us started, but it’s up to us to follow through, develop and build so that when push comes to shove and we’re in a position of needing to make a moral decision, we’ll have something in reserve. The bigger the reserve, in some ways, the better the pause, the more right the action or reaction.
It’s pretty simple, really, and yet I know it’s a journey, and that each soul comes at it individually and in its own time.
What’s most important is that we recognize the value of the pause, work to build spaces for it to dwell, and know when to use it.
Reflection, restraint, prayer, holding back, being mindful, taking time to ruminate, discernment, fair judgment, choosing the right words.
We live in a world of weak words, when cursing is acceptable and reactions come at the quick click of a button. We’re all susceptible, but we don’t all have to cave to the pressure. There’s a better way.
Consider the pause. Regard it. Honor it. Get comfortable with it. The pause doesn’t mean you are rendered powerless. The pause just means you’re going to commit to taking a little more time so that what comes from you will be thoughtful and just and right.
Q4U: When did you pause recently in a way that made all the difference?