Broken down into 25 days, Living Yellow takes you through a variety of tips, scriptures and journaling practices to help you collect more presence and mindfulness in your life. It’s an eguide about reflection, stillness and slowing down when everything else about life speeds up, all with the hopes of shedding light on the importance of implementing more quiet and thought-filled moments into your days.
The first car I ever learned how to drive was a red-hot Toyota Tercel. It was my Aunt’s car and it was a standard (thanks Auntie B!). I was in Newfoundland for the summer hanging out with my Grandparents and my Grandpa decided it was time for me to get serious about driving.
Our conversation went a little something like this …
“Hey Freddy (his nickname for me), think you’re up for some driving today?” 16-year-old-self Cindy: “No way! Get out! Exadore (my nickname for him), you’re like, the best!!!!” *Insert eye roll as I write about my teenage self* Note: God bless the Grandpas who endure moments like this.My Grandpa taught me everything there was to know about driving.
How to Parallel Park.
How to properly stop at a stop sign.
How not to jerk the car when stopped on a hill.
How to gain control of the wheel should I lose it on icy streets.
How to pump the brakes if I find myself sliding.
But the one thing I remember the most is his traffic light test.
Red: to stop without even feeling the car, the true test being, whether you make liquid spill or not.
Green: to start up again when the light turns without bucking the car. And for those of you who have learned how to drive a standard, you‘ll know that that’s truly a hard skill to master (and an embarrassing one). If you rev too fast, you buck. If you don’t rev enough, you buck. If you rev the gas and slightly release the break, you ease forward like a pro. P.S. It “only” took me an entire summer to learn this skill. So again I say, God bless the Grandpas.
Yellow: to shift gears oh so smooth while slowing down so the car feels like it’s moving through butter.
Lately I’ve been thinking about how life is an awful lot like a traffic light.
Green means go. We know green. We like green. With places to go and people to see, we’re happy when every light gives us the right of way. I mean, green is the golden ticket.
Red means stop. Red slows us down. Red is inconvenient. Red forces us to put the brakes on life when we don’t want to. These lights take our already busy days and make them slower and even less productive. We hate that.
And then there’s yellow.
Yellow means slow, or at least it’s supposed to. But let’s indulge in a moment of honesty here, shall we? I’ll go first.
I never slow down. There, I said it.
Yellow to me is more of a … suggestion. Learned through my years of driving, there is always time to make it through the light. Always. So yellow has come to mean, an opportunity to speed up. And in my honest of honest opinions, yellow and green are the same. Red equals stop. Green equals go. And yellow equals gun it. I’m betting you do the same.
Except for one sad truth.
I’ve come to realize my life looks an awful lot like the altered version of a traffic light rather than the intended one.
Let’s go back to green, shall we?
Healthy means go. We know healthy. We like healthy. With places to go, people to see, goals to be accomplished, money to be made and success to be had, we’re happy when life gives us the right of way. I mean, healthy is the golden ticket, right? It means we can live full speed ahead with nothing holding us back. Show.Me.The.Money!!!!!!
Except for red. Darn red.
Sick means stop. Sick slows us down. Sick is inconvenient. Sick forces us to put the brakes on life when we don’t want to. Sickness takes our already busy days and makes them slower and even less productive. And we hate that.
But is that it? Is that the end? Does life stop there and those become our only two options: either red or green, or running full tilt and then slamming down the brakes?
Surely there’s gotta be a more balanced approach.
The book of Ecclesiastes is a reflective journey through Solomon’s life as he recollects his life experiences and the lessons he’s learned along the way. It’s also an invitation for us to understand and see the importance of pursuing the present life, the slow life, the yellow life — a life not conflicted by the past nor worried about the future, a life not racing through the days like a chicken with its head chopped off nor withering away at a dead standstill, but a life wholly devoted to what God is doing in the here and now.
And when you consider who Solomon was and the glamorous life he lived — a perfect Instagram life if you will — it puts everything we feel pressured to pursue into proper perspective.
Solomon had it all (according to the world’s standards anyway): wealth, influence, status, looks, intellect and power. If ever there were a Biblical poster boy for “The Good Life,” Solomon was it! But to hear even him describe this kind of life as “meaningless” sheds a lot of light and wisdom for our own lives and on our culture today.
“I took another walk around the neighborhood and realized that on this earth as it is — the race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor satisfaction to the wise, nor riches to the smart, nor grace to the learned. Sooner or later bad luck hits us all. —Ecclesiastes 9:11 (MSG)
Solomon is reminding us to view everything we have (whether much or little) with the right perspective, to hold our lives loosely, to live with gratitude, humility and right motivation while rejoicing with contentment amidst our day-to-day moments. He’s reminding us to be present; to accept and delight, to be mindfully aware, and to remember that not everything we’re racing after is what we’ll reach or what we’re meant to have, or where we’ll end up. Understanding this helps us not live so “pedal to the metal.”
As Ecclesiastes 10:2a puts it: “Wise thinking leads to right living;” (MSG) and Ecclesiastes 10:3a tells us, “Fools on the road have no sense of direction” (MSG).
“Slow down. Take a deep breath. What’s the hurry? Why wear yourself out? Just what are you after anyway?” —Jeremiah 2:25a (MSG)
My Yellow Confession
Here’s a hard truth I’ve come to realize about the traffic light test of my life.
Red: my life does not “stop” well. Exadore would not approve.
When the hiccup hits, or the hard time arrives, or an unexpected bill shows up in the mail, sadly, coffee is flying, tires are screaming, I’m crying, smoke is coming out of my ears, my kids are scared and my husband is short circuiting. I stop because something or someone made me stop, not because I wanted to or voluntarily did so. I wish I could confidently say I handle all of life’s setbacks with a ton of grace, but usually I’m kicking and screaming because it’s hard to be inconvenienced, and to learn the ugly truths about yourself, and to deal with the hard, messy and uncomfortable circumstances of life.
But what if stopping didn’t have to be so abrupt and jarring? What if “red” could be more gracious because of yellow’s preparation?
Green: my life also does not “go” the way Exadore taught me.
I’d like to say I exude success and movement like a champ, but sadly, I’m not that moderate in my take off. As soon as the tears subside, or the pressure lifts, or the stress eases, or the dream is on track, or the confrontation has been dealt with, or the emotional flare up cools, or the season of “being in the valley” disappears, or feelings of “happiness” come back, or the project has traction, I’m like a dog being let off of its lease. I rev, I buck, I rev again, I buck again and I full-on put pedal to the metal as I gun it right outta there. I’m just so excited to not be stopped, stuck, trapped, parked, sick, sad, crying, shouting, or fill-in-the-blank, that slow acceleration doesn’t even cross my mind. And if it does, I’m like, “No, thanks. I’ve been parked long enough.”
But what if momentum didn’t have to be so jerky and erratic? What if “green” could be more gentle and humble because of yellow’s foresight?
And then there’s yellow …
When I actually confronted the state of my own “yellow” heart and the condition of my “yellow” lifestyle, I realized some pretty sad things. I don’t do yellow well. I often outrun downtime, I avoid stillness, I don’t know how to be quiet, calm rarely exists in my current season of parenting, and slow motion be like, “Huh?”
When I got honest about my avoidance of yellow and my “gun it” mentality, God revealed some pretty profound things to me. He said, “Cindy …
- No one can beat exhaustion by going faster.
- No matter how many years of ‘driving’ you have lived, speeding through life never gets you where you want to go faster.
- Don’t wait till you’re forced to rest to finally do so.
- Find value in all the speeds.
- Let me drive and you enjoy the view.”
“Oh, how sweet the light of day, and how wonderful to live in the sunshine! Even if you live a long time, don’t take a single day fro granted. Take delight in each light-filled hour …” —Ecclesiastes 11:7 (MSG)
So. Here’s a thought …
Perhaps yellow has a time and place. Perhaps yellow has purpose. Perhaps yellow is positioned strategically and beautifully right in the middle of a traffic light and our lives with the sole (and soul) purpose of creating balance between the extremes.
There will always be extremes. We can’t avoid the extremes.
And around again.
This is the cycle of life. This is our human mode of operation. We will always have some place to go and some thing to do.
But perhaps Living Yellow is the vantage point to see all sides. It’s a strategically placed position that provides space and perspective so you learn to slow down, enjoy the journey and not fear seasons of dormancy and rebirth.
Living Yellow is where you learn there’s no need to gun it when it’s time to go and there’s no need to slam on the brakes when it’s time to stop. It’s about living steady, controlled, purposefully, awake, intentionally and content even if everyone else is screeching tires all around you.
Living Yellow is the discernment to understand that every pace has its place. We are never all of our successes nor all of our failures. Regardless of the age or stage of life, every season has its stops and go’s, it’s starts and finishes, it’s movement and it’s rest, and living yellow allows us the time and space to ponder such truths, to understand such lessons, to wrestle with such tensions and to learn such processes.
The best thing my Grandpa ever taught me about driving a standard was in helping me see the importance of shifting gears. He had no idea how profound a lesson that would be in also helping me see the importance of shifting gears in this, my “standard” life.
The traffic light became my reminder of that, may it be yours, too.
Welcome to Living Yellow.
Collecting Moments is an ongoing series compiled of 10 collections—ebooks, journals, podcasts, music and more—geared to helping people see and experience God in the everyday moments of their life.
All content for Season One: Collecting Moments, including a copy of Living Yellow, is part of a Season Pass.