Slowing Down

A cool breeze skips through the air. The sun says goodbye a little sooner. The grass beneath my feet slows its sprouting, inviting me to do the same.

I’ve resisted the call for far too long. When the world shutdown earlier this year, and everyone talked about slowing down, I couldn’t figure out how. Life seemed to speed up within my four walls even as life shut down around us.

My little ones needed more attention than ever as all their activities paused. My work intensified as my husband and I juggled Zoom meetings and endless interruptions. Even grocery shopping grew stressful as I scoured multiple online stores each week to secure what we needed.

Life is still far from ordinary. But slowly we are inching back to normal. And as the fear and panic subside, I finally feel able to take a breath — a deep one that lets in the crisp autumn air. My mind is ready to embrace what my body and soul have need for far too long. Rest. A slower pace.

If you find yourself longing to slow down, but aren’t quite sure how, here are a few things I’m doing to embrace the invitation to slow down.

Do one less thing. My days are still packed full. My to do list is still too long. But slowly I’m learning to strike one thing from the schedule, to leave one thing on the list undone.

Otherwise I rush through the day, stressed and exhausted. And I don’t accomplish more from this place.

When every minute of our day is scheduled, we fail to give the people we love or the work we care about our full attention. Our creativity stops flowing. Our compassion runs cold. Fractured thoughts and frustrated words punctuate our day.

So pause for just a minute. Let yourself daydream before you dive into your next task. Look someone you care about in the face and listen to whatever they need to tell you.

If doing one less thing means you can be more present for each task and person before you, then let something go. You’ll ultimately do more — and be better — with less.  

What’s one thing you can leave undone today?

Create space. My alarm goes off before sunrise. And most nights I work until bedtime. In between I chase children, run errands, cook meals, check off chores, and more.

Our schedules are hectic. They seldom give us space to think, sit, or breathe. But lately I’m realizing that unstructured time is essential. And to be our best selves, we must create space.

Set your alarm ten minutes earlier if silence and solitude help set the tone for your day. Turn off the radio while you drive and let your mind wander. Spend a few minutes of your lunch break just sitting — no phones allowed. Go for a walk. Read a book. Take a nap. 

Create space for whatever allows you to process, inhale, and rest. The time you set aside doesn’t have to be lengthy. And it definitely shouldn’t add stress. Be creative. And know it may not happen every day.  

What can you do to create a little space in your schedule today?

Practice Examen. Far too often I lay in bed exhausted yet unable to sleep. My mind runs around an endless track. My fears multiply like opponents in close pursuit. My worries leave me looking for an exit ramp.

As far back as I can remember, I’ve battled anxiety and insomnia. And as an adult, only one thing has really helped — the spiritual discipline of examen.

If the examen is new to you, here’s how it works: At the end of each day, spend a few minutes prayerfully looking over the events that have passed. Allow God to bring important moments to your mind — where you sensed his presence, felt gratitude, or saw his grace. Acknowledge times when you experienced fear, regret, or shame. Work through your experiences and feelings with the Lord. Practice thanksgiving, confession, and petition.

The examen helps us gain a greater awareness of God’s presence with us and his work in our lives. The exercise doesn’t have to be long. But at the end of a hectic day, it allows us to slow down, reflect, and gain a greater sense of what God may be teaching us in a specific season.

How can you set aside a few minutes for prayerful reflection today?

Amidst a season filled with busyness, may you embrace the invitation to slow down. May you sense God’s work in you and around you and find your rest in him.   

How will you slow down?

Amanda DeWitt is a freelance writer, coach's wife, and mom. She completed her bachelor’s at Dallas Baptist University and holds a M.A. in media and communication from Dallas Theological Seminary. When she's not typing away at her computer, she's chasing her two little boys or watching her husband coach high school football.

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