Slowing down

Some months ago, our pastor mentioned a conversation he’d had with Dallas Willard about spiritual growth. What was necessary to get to the next step?

“You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life,” he said.

“Got it. What else?”

Well, I guess you had to have been there. This is a tough thing regardless of the humor potential, because I’ve been in a hurry most of my life: when I was in grade school I was in a hurry to get to the next grade, the next school, etc. I rushed through college (with good reason though–private universities are very expensive, and my parents had two more to put through school right behind me).

I couldn’t rush into marriage — well, I tried, but fortunately I was saved from marrying the wrong woman. I have sometimes rushed through my Bible verses, and until my recent wake-up call, I rushed while riding my bicycle.

How to stop? I believe I have part of the answer, though as with many other things, the answer is easier to see than it is to actually execute.

Here’s the general form of the answer: To break the power of an idol — money, success, reputation, “productivity” (hurry) are all idols — we defy them with our hands and feet. Does money hold too much power over me? To break that, I give some away, as I’ve written about before. Am I too worried about “success”? I can break that by leaving the office at a fixed time, even if not everything is “done.” There is a great example in the story of Mary and Martha.

Martha was apparently a little obsessive (like her fictional workaholic namesake) whereas her sister… well, let’s read Luke’s account:

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.

But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Luke 10:38-42

I’m going to guess that Martha had her identity tied a little too much to her “productivity” — in other words, she was like many of us. And I love Jesus’ response to her. He doesn’t condemn her; she’s not doing anything wrong as such, but she’s just not quite able to receive the blessings the Lord wants to give her. How applicable is that?

So, for the “hurry” disease… to overcome it, to break the power of the “hurry” idol, I can intentionally take a parking spot that’s not so close to the door; I can let the mother with the cart full of kids and groceries get to the dairy case before me; I can take a day to simply receive God’s blessings, without “accomplishing” anything–a day of celebration (a “joy day”) or reflection with others, or an individual retreat. (Why does this last one work? Because behind the “hurry” thing is the mistaken belief that I am what I accomplish. I repudiate that belief and defy its power by deliberately doing “nothing.”)

I can go to bed before this post is “finished.”

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2 Comments on “Slowing down”

  1. Michael Says:

    Nice. I believe this hurry has poisoned the culture of many organizations. By some perverse formula, busyness and status have been equated.

    I like to remove myself and my wife (we both work at law firms and bill by the hour) that we can only give our time to people. Nobody can take it away from us. I try to remember that when I feel the most deadline pressure. In the most intense situations, it can even help to pretend that I’m already dead or in prison — nobody can lose patience with somebody who is already gone.

  2. Collin Says:

    Related to this, I recently added http://collinpark.blogspot.com/2009/04/what-is-sabbath.html to my other blog


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