My three-year old was telling me stories from her day. I was sitting next to her, looking directly at her, and nodding my head at the appropriate times. But she could tell I wasn’t really ‘there.’ My mind was off, thinking about something else. Kids have a special knack for noticing that. “DADDY, LISTEN!” “I’m sorry honey, tell it to me again.” She happily did.
It’s the New Year, and everyone is making resolutions. If you’re like me, you’re coming up with a plan. How can I optimize my life and squeeze every minute out of the day? Technology helps us be efficient, organized, and busier than ever. And being busy isn’t bad when it’s within reason. God created us to create. To be productive.
But hurry often accompanies busy. What’s the difference between busy and hurry?
“Hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day. There’s a difference between being busy and being hurried. Busy is a condition of the body having many things to do. Hurry is a condition of the soul in which I am so preoccupied that I cannot be fully present to God or a person. Jesus was often busy, but he was never hurried. Now, how do you know if you struggle with hurry?” -John Ortberg
When we are hurried, we are constantly thinking about the next thing at the expense of the present thing. And that is costly.
It costs us our life. Think about it. If we are always thinking about the future and never fully engaged in the present, when does that end? How much of your ‘present’ are you wasting on the future?
It costs us relationships and joy. My kids are at an age where they love my attention, and that won’t always be the case. When I’m hurried and distracted, I’m missing out on some of the sweetest moments of life. I actually get irritated with them for interrupting whatever it is I’m thinking about. When I’m not fully present with someone, I’m missing out on the good stuff of life. We are made to be in deep, meaningful relationships. Hurry is a barrier to depth.
It also costs us grief. We can get so hurried that when something painful happens, our gut reaction is, “I ain’t got time for that!” We move past it quickly without feeling it or processing it. We might think that’s a healthy approach to avoid pain, but we end up carrying that hurt. It shows up in ways that we aren’t aware of. Taking the time to work through whatever emotions you have might not be efficient, but it is essential to living a full life.
How do we combat this ‘great enemy of spiritual life’, hurry? Ortberg suggests that we intentionally choose things that force us to slow down. Intentionally drive behind someone that is driving under the speed limit. Intentionally stand in the longest line at the grocery store. (I break out into cold sweats even typing that.)
I have a few more thoughts in line with that. Turn off your phone whenever you are spending time with someone else. Make eye contact with people you are in conversation with. Chew your food slowly.
While you are scheduling out your week to maximize productivity, intentionally schedule in rest. Set aside an entire day each week committed to doing things that give you life with people that give you life. (I’ll write more on this idea of Sabbath later.)
Schedule in monthly solitude. (start with 1 hour if that’s all you can give, but half a day to a whole day is so life-giving.) Spend time daily practicing the Examen, where you are reflecting on the goodness and presence of God in your life and being aware of what you are feeling and what others around you are feeling.
Think about the things that add joy to your everyday life and intentionally do the slowest version of them. Make pour-over coffee instead of the Keurig. Pack a pipe of tobacco instead of the cigarette. (hypothetically…) If you journal, do it with ink and paper rather than digitally. Phone call over text. Face to face over phone call. Etc. Sometimes, you need to be intentionally inefficient.
Being busy is ok. But being hurried is soul-sucking. Jesus agreed:
“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”