I’m asking everyone I see to speak to me slowly. I’m still on sloth time, island time, vacation time or whatever you want to call it. My husband and I just spent a week on the beautiful island of Roatan in Honduras.
A therapist told us once that every couple should go away alone for two weeks every year. (I can barely even write those words because they seem so impossible.) We have to plan for about a decade in order to go away alone for one week. It was strange as we told others our plans. Everyone kept saying, “Who’s going with you? You are going with friends or family, right?”
“No”, we kept saying, “just us, alone, on purpose, for a whole week.” We also purposely rented a house on the beach in the not-commercial, very slow part of the island, in their off season. We knew we needed downtime.
We had a wonderful time. Couples are different when they are alone. We are. Subtract family, friends, jobs, household chores and other distractions, and you get face to face with who you really are. You get to really see each other once again and say, “I remember you.” It is stunning how life, jobs, relationships pile up on us, isn’t it?
Don’t get me wrong, we had some adjusting to get to before we settled out and could just enjoy each other. It wasn’t pure paradise. When we arrived, we were beside ourselves for about two hours trying to get on WiFi as promised. We were hot because the house was set up for island breezes which seemed way too warm and humid especially while we were in the WiFi frenzy. We had learning curves and challenges because of the language barriers and people not moving at the urgent pace we were used to. I brought mostly only left contacts. We didn’t exactly know how to feed ourselves or get a taxi there. As the week went on, we both got bit by sand flies and monkeys. I’m serious. Once when my husband ventured out for provisions, I got locked out of the house in a swimsuit with no water, no phone, no shoes and ended up rescuing myself with a broken mop handle. I felt like I was on Survivor and won.
It took time for us to unwind and adopt a slothlike pace. After that, we put our phones away for giant chunks of time. We never turned on the tv. We learned to quit having daily agendas other than to watch the sun rise and set. We noticed the breezes and the shade. We found the hammock, hung it and laid in it. I filled the hummingbird feeders and welcomed our chirpy guests. We stared at the water.
We had uninterrupted conversations. I found myself saying, “Since I have your undivided attention…” We had comfortable long silences. We each read more than one book. We played real games like Scrabble with tiles and card games. He beat me at everything. I was too relaxed to be competitive I guess.
We ventured out a couple of times to explore the island and see some actual sloths. We got to hold them. Someone told us later that was bad/against the law. We were remiss in keeping up with international sloth law. Not knowing that, learning about them, seeing them up close and holding one was about the most delightful thing I’ve ever done. Did you know sloths only go to the bathroom once a week? Think of the time saved there.
With every outing, however, we realized we liked our quiet porch the best. We didn’t need to go anywhere else, do any excursions or explore anymore. We morphed into happy sloths.
You and I need more sloth time. Our marriages need more sloth time. There is something very good for our souls about just hanging out slothfully. I want to be a sloth.
I brought my two grandsons sloth books as souvenirs. One of the books is called, “First, We Nap.” In the book the sloth’s friends are trying everything to get this sloth active. He won’t budge. “First, we nap,” he says. I love it.
Going out on a limb here, in our world today, slothfulness is not our biggest temptation or sin, it is our frenzied activities of heart, mind, soul, churches, relationships, jobs…everything.
The English translations of the Bible sometimes use sloth or slothfulness like it is a bad word. Like, “Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.” (Romans 12:11)
The same Bible also commands us to rest and be still. Jesus models nap taking for us. He reminds us to come to him and he will give us rest.
I admit it. I have sloth envy. Our world is too fast. Who needs a sloth break?
Dr. Cindy Ryan is a pastor, wife, mother of three, Mimosa to Keller and Pace and breast cancer survivor.
P.S. The newest Inner Circle Top Ten list is ready to arrive in email inboxes on August 1. This is my best wisdom on parenting from my years as a pastor, my training in Pastoral Counseling but mostly from 30 years of parenting. This Top Ten list is great for any stage of parenting. To receive it go to http://www.drcindryanblog.com/circle by July 31st in order to receive it. I’ve also included more news, prayer requests and pictures there.