About Me

The Fine Art of Slowing

I’m taking a few weeks away from work to study and rest. And I think you should too.

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Jesus got a lot done without ever seeming like he was in a hurry. I find this thought both refreshing and frustrating.

Maybe you’re like me and find yourself suffocating under the pressure of accomplishments, deadlines, goals, and generally trying to reap the consumerist marrow out of life. If you know me, you know that I’m all for goals. The goals aren’t the problem. The way we oftentimes go about them is.

Maybe you want to live “the good life.” You keep chasing it but never know when you’ve found it. If so, you know that if the pursuit of having it all produces anything, it produces busy people.

But I don’t think we enjoy being busy as much as we like to pretend we do.

When I finger my way through the pages of the New Testament, I witness Jesus challenging contemporary notions of leadership and productivity. Our culture wants to get farther faster, but Jesus wanted something different. Jesus seems intent on creating wholeness and peace. He was less centered on volume of activities but meaning and purpose.

The Lord choose to be on mission rather than on pace. Sometimes events happened quickly – think the time period between the last supper to crucifixion. Sometimes they happened slowly – Lazarus died while Jesus was taking His time.

Repeatedly, Jesus shows us how to be present rather than productive. Admittedly, I’m terrible at this! But I don’t want to be. As a remedy for me – and for you – I suggest we embrace the lost spiritual discipline of slowing.

What is slowing?

Slowing is the prolonged space between and during activities.

Slowing is not always being in a rush nor rushing others. Slowing means the slow lane and slow line aren’t mortal enemies designed by Satan to ruin your day. It means the car in front of you isn’t going too slow and knowing that your lunch partner’s 5-minutes of tardiness is not intended as disrespect.

Over time slowing begins to trinkle it’s way in our hearts. We discover that life really isn’t about us and we are not as central to the earth’s continual rotation as we once falsely believed. We forgive ourselves when events we thought should happen more quickly don’t yield to our schedules; these are important practices like forgiveness, spiritual formation, and healing. And we learn to grant others a little leeway when other people don’t change as swiftly as we’d like them to. All this comes from slowing.

Some will say, “I’ve got a lot to do. A lot of demands on me. Family. Friends. Job. Achievement. Slowing will only slow me down.” Well, that’s fine to say, but if you feel that way, you’ve come to believe that you’re more right about life than Jesus is. Remember, when Jesus died? The Lord proclaimed, “It is finished.” And he did so without having to constantly check his text messages or update his Facebook status. God’s concern is that our time is spent on mission not on pace.

Mark’s rendition of the gospel reminds us of a slowing scene from the Savior’s life:

When John’s disciples were told of this, they came for his body and gave it a proper burial.

Now the twelve returned from their travels and told Him what they had done, whom they had seen, and how they had spread the news of God’s kingdom.

Jesus (to the disciples): Let us go out into the wilderness for a while and rest ourselves. (Mark 6)

Did you see that? “Rest (y)ourselves,” is as much a commandment of the Lord as any of the others. This year, as you consider goals, resolutions, and new horizons, don’t fear slowing and making space to be renewed. This renewal comes not from doing, but undoing.

 

What are way you can begin the process of slowing? What in your life can be reduced to create space? Leave a comment.

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  • Donna Fentanes

    Wendy Lawton from Books & Such had a great blog related to this. I picked out this quote from it, I thought you might like it:

    “The modern world has far too little
    understanding of the art of keeping young. Its notion of progress has
    been to pile one thing on top of another, without caring if each thing
    was crushed in turn, People forgot that the human soul can enjoy
    a thing most when there is time to think about it and be thankful for
    it. And by crowding things together they lost the sense of surprise;
    and surprise is the secret of joy.” GK Chesterton

    Have a great slow summer.

    Donna

  • Erich Robinson

    This is something I’m constantly working on. I recently shared a few resources that have helped me in this area: http://resourcesforus.wordpress.com/2013/07/03/three-resources-to-help-you-deal-with-an-overloaded-life/

    I enjoy your posts and tweets. Thanks for what you do!

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