stop and smell the tea

Busy. Overwhelmed. Errands. Rushing. These words pretty well describe the American way of life for most people. We are always moving on to the next thing, having hardly tasted the moment we were just in. Our lives are a buffet—a little of this, a little of that, and hardly enough time to focus on any one thing. We want to have it all and do it all. We have dabbled in a million things and focused on nothing.

I’ve heard people say that compared to other countries, America is a very task-oriented society, workaholics married to fast-paced careers and fast-paced lives. If spouses get in the way of our “dreams,” the spouses go. Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Case in point: Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. The woman in the book “self-actualizes” and leaves her husband to go pursue her “dreams.” [There were some good things about that book, but that is not one of them.]

I’ve been listening to bits and snippets of the book, “Three Cups of Tea,” by Greg Mortenson, and this section caught my ear:

“Haji Ali spoke. ‘If you want to thrive in Baltistan, you must respect our ways. The first time you share tea with a Balti, you are a stranger. The second time you take tea, you are an honored guest. The third time you share a cup of tea, you become family, and for our family, we are prepared to do anything, even die. Doctor Greg, you must take time to share three cups of tea. We may be uneducated but we are not stupid. We have lived and survived here for a long time.’ That day, Haji Ali taught me the most important lesson I’ve ever learned in my life. We Americans think you have to accomplish everything quickly. We’re the country of thirty-minute power lunches and two-minute football drills. Haji Ali taught me to share three cups of tea, to slow down and make building relationships as important as building projects. He taught me that I had more to learn from the people I work with than I could ever hope to teach them.”


What a concept! “Make building relationships as important as building projects.”

Let me be the first to claim guilt here. I let my desire to clean the house rule my attitude around my husband. I pack my day full of activity, and make no intentional time for relationships. I give up on relationships when they don’t happen as quickly as I would like. I don’t take the time. I don’t “share three cups of tea.”

Slow down. Make time. Learn from others.

To some degree, our lives must be “full.” We work, we take care of our families, we rest. But imagine if instead of turning down opportunities to be with people, we could say, “I have the time.” Or at least would say, “I will make the time.”

God is not more glorified when I cleanthekitchenmakethebedrunerrandsgettheoilchangedmakedinnergogroceryshopping as opposed to if I took the entire afternoon and spent it with another person. My busyness does not make Him look more favorably on me.

Make time. Share “three cups of tea.”


7 thoughts on “stop and smell the tea

  1. Karen Massingill says:

    Ahhh…well said, my young friend. I am reading this while waiting for AAA to come and give the battery in my car a “jump”.I had JUST been scrambling all morning–do this, do that, get to work–and everything came to a screeching halt! Your post was a good “resting spot” for me just now and reminded me to take a deep breath and relax…I’ve got some time to spend with God!

  2. Bean says:

    Everyone has his or her own outlook on life, but I deeply disagree with your (implied) statement that when our relationships and aspirations conflict, we must forgo the latter to save the former. Not all people are the same, nor are all relationships. Only the people in their particular situations can only decide what’s best for themselves. There may be no perfect solution, but there are no absolute solution either.

  3. Michael Fritz says:

    You make a strong case for relationship building. I am not so fond of tea though. Housekeeping is important, but too much of anything is not so good. I think that God is glorified when you do things, because you are doing them to serve your mate. That is good for the relationship with him. I must agree that we do tend to make ourselves busy–too busy–and we don’t invest much time in one another. Great post.

  4. raspberrychai says:

    As I read through these comments, I just want to clarify: I don’t believe our relationships should suffer because of our “projects.” That’s a task-oriented mentality. That does not mean our “projects” are worthless or unimportant, but that much of the time, they take precedence over people.

  5. teri says:

    This is very true. When tasks become more important than people for me, I have often lost sight of my life’s purpose–love God, love people. At the same time, tasks are often how we love.

  6. Siobhan says:

    I love this post and will look out for this book. I changed careers recently because my job was taking so much of my time and I still tried to make time for family, friends etc. I feel so much better now that I’ve changed.

  7. Nicole says:

    This was really good… It’s true. We can get so caught up in stuff, the business of everyday life, that we miss out on what really matters: people.

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