Slow Down, Be Present, Find Balance

By Christine Villaman

Categories: Expressing God, Gratitude (Thanksgiving), Personal Growth and Progress

Daily living can often be so fast-paced. Living in Spain for a year taught me to slow down and take greater notice of what is going on around me. I focused on enjoying each moment with my husband and our boys, as well as the many gifts that the beautiful city of Barcelona gave us.

I felt it was important to be present to see the good God provides, rather than think only of the next activity or the day’s plans. So I actively appreciated all the people, God’s children, who were in the city at any one moment—whether tourists or locals. All of them were contributing to the energy and individuality of that vibrant and embracing city.

And Barcelona was vibrant and active without being rushed. I realized that I didn’t need to run around like I did in the U.S. Rather, I could be present and enjoy each moment by consciously looking around, observing, and being grateful, even if the day bears a full activity load.

The apostle Paul declares that “now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation (2 Cor 6:2 KJV). He emphasizes living in the “now,” not the later, not the future, and not the past. Only in the now can we appreciate all God has given us. And everything God gives us is a blessing—a gift from above that doesn’t change or vary.

With this sense of presence or appreciation of the moment comes a greater sense of balance, especially between work and personal time. I learned from the Spaniards how to value personal time more and to make it a priority, even in small ways. For instance, when Spaniards eat a meal, a snack, or even have a coffee, they take the time to sit and enjoy it. You will almost never see a Spaniard eating or drinking on the go.

It seemed odd to me at first that I didn’t see people on the Metro with food or a cup in their hand, and I thought it was a rule of the Metro system not to consume food or beverages while riding. But that is not a rule, just a way of life. It’s so different from the U.S. Whenever we did see someone carrying a drink in Spain, we knew he or she was an American.

Also in regards to balance, I learned to take the time to do what I enjoy. The Bible says, “Let me be weighed in an even balance, that God may know mine integrity” (Job 31:6). Finding the right balance helps us to express our integrity. I love being active, walking, hiking, etc., but I just never thought I had enough time before our trip abroad. While we were in Spain, I was more active than I have been in 15 years.

Now that I am back in the U.S., I make physical activity a priority (but not above God and family). It feels great! And I am still accomplishing the everyday things I need to get done. Even if I have to make adjustments in other areas of my life, it’s worth it to fill some of my time with the good things that make me happy and productive—not in a selfish way, but in a fulfilling way so that I am a better person to everyone around me. I feel “more weighed in an even balance.” This balance in my life helps me be more grateful to God and His infinite blessings.

Read more about Christine’s family’s incredible experience in Spain and find out how they grew.