Get in the Slow Lane
“If you can’t take the time to do nothing, you’re a slave to doing. Doing nothing is a radical, revolutionary act. It frees you from the universal slavery of our age; slavery to the clock. The clock measures doing but not being.” – Peter Kreeft
The quote above comes from Adele Calhoun’s The Spiritual Disciplines Handbook in the introduction to an unorthodox spiritual discipline – the discipline of slowing. Although it is not a traditional discipline, it is one incredibly important in our age. Though not specifically identified in Scripture, Jesus practiced it with great regularity. As you read His life, you notice that He lived in an unhurried way. Sure, He had a lot to do but he never seemed rushed.
As Calhoun writes, “Slowing is one way to overcome inner hurriedness and addiction to busyness. Through slowing the present moment is tasted to the full.” The desire in practicing this discipline is to curb our addiction to busyness, hurry and workaholism, learning to savor the moment.
I was introduced to this discipline when I was explaining to a friend of mine how busy I was and I felt I was constantly running on adrenaline. I was beginning to feel physical ramifications of this pace of life. As I began to intentionally practice slowing, the physical effects dissolved and life became more peaceful. The affect of practicing one simple discipline was amazing.
Consider these questions as you think about whether you live a “slow-paced” life:
- Are you addicted to hurry, rush and/or adrenalin? Explain.
- How do you feel about being stuck behind cars that go slowly?
- How do you react to a slow sales clerk? Dawdling children?
- How do you eat your meals? Do you take your time or scarf your food to get to the next activity?
- How have deadlines, timelines and bottom lines affected the pace of your life?
Do you need the discipline of slowing in your life? If so, here are ways to start practicing it:
- Intentionally drive in the slow lane of traffic. (Yes, do it on purpose!)
- Intentionally get in the longest checkout lane at the store. (Again, on purpose!)
- Create buffer time between meetings and appointments (not to check email, but to rest).
- Speak more slowly.
- Don’t talk about how busy you are. This is negative behavior positively reinforced by a society addicted to busyness.
- Pray and ask God to help you choose to slow down.
When you choose a pace of life rather than having life choose it for you, you are able to live more fully in the present, noticing God, the people around you and even deep soul needs that you have. When you choose to slow down, you give space for God to work in deep ways. You have time for reflection and growth. You begin to have realistic expectations for the pace of life. Slowing helps us to be patient as we learn and grow in our faith. It helps us be patient with the spiritual growth of others.
We seem to always be in a hurry, but why? Is it necessary? How is the hurried life getting in the way of the present and how God is calling you to live? Are you stopping to even listen?