Engage

SLOWING

The exit ramp for souls starved by activism is slowing. Slowing? How will I get anywhere if I do that? How will THE LIST get completed if I don’t work as quickly as I can?

My high-energy, multitasking, activist self used to driving in the fast lane pushes back…slow down? My soul responds, “I’m dying in here…I need some rest; I need some space; I need to be replenished – if you don’t slow down, your list may never get completed.”

Adelle Cahoun in The Spiritual Disciplines Handbook matches the desires we have with certain spiritual disciplines. Example: I may be totally disenchanted with always living every minute filled to the brim and then some. I may long to get out of the fast lane but have no idea where the exit ramp is.

My desire is to curb this tendency to acute busyness, hurry and workaholism. The discipline of slowing is a tool God uses to invite us back to Him to still our souls. You cannot live in the fast lane all the time without doing damage to your soul.

Acknowledging this desire is the beginning. I can choose to change speeds and consider the discipline of slowing. My desire is really an invitation from the Lord to seek Him to fulfill my soul’s need. “If any man is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.” (John 7:37) “Come unto me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.”(Matthew 11:28)

Slowing is not a justification for laziness or procrastination. It is not lethargy, slothfulness, apathy or inertia. It is an intentional choice to alter said frenetic pace. It may involve prioritizing, evaluating what changes you actually can make.

Slowing is the spiritual discipline cousin to the disciplines of silence, solitude and Sabbath and a good way to begin entrance into these soul-nourishing rhythms. The practice includes deliberate slowdown techniques that provide relief from frenetic activity; driving in the slow lane; getting enough rest; speaking more slowly; sitting longer at the table; planning buffer time between meetings.

The body satisfying soul replenishing rest God calls us to doesn’t happen automatically. It is intentional. Slowing is one way to overcome inner hurriedness and addiction to busyness. Through slowing the gift of the present moment is tasted to the full.

Are you addicted to hurry, rush and adrenalin? How do you feel about being stuck behind cars that go slowly? What is your response to children who dawdle? What is it like for you to choose to do things slowly? How have deadlines, timelines and bottom lines affected the pace of your life?

Consider options to insert ways of slowing into your life that will quiet your soul and give God a chance to restore it. I decided to use my drive time to practice slowing. I chose on a daily commute through heavy traffic to have complete silence in the car- no radio, no cell phone calls, even no music at first. I was surprised after a week or so how this simple decision began to calm my soul and made me more ready to enter the noise and talking and activity at the other end of my drive.

If you resonate with the need to consider slowing, where might you begin?

“Then because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’” (Mark 6:31)

“Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)
 

Image from Wikimedia Commons

Adelle Calhoun, Spiritual Discipoines Handbook, Revised and Expanded, Downers Grove, IL:InterVarsity Press, 2015

"Souls Starved by Activism": phrase  attributed to Archbishop Arthur Michael Ramsay of Canterbury (1904-1988)

Gail Seidel

Gail Seidel served as Mentor Advisor for Spiritual Formation in the Department of Spiritual Formation and Leadership at Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS) and as an Adjunct Professor in the D Min in Spiritual Formation in the D Min Department at Dallas Theological Seminary. She has a BA in English from the University of Texas, a Masters in Christian Education from Dallas Seminary and a D Min in Spiritual Formation from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. She is a contributor to the textbook, Foundations of Spiritual Formation, Kregel Academic. She served as co-director for Christian Women in Partnership Russia with Entrust, an international church leadership-training mission. She and her husband Andy live in Fredericksburg, Texas. They have 2 married children and 6 wonderful grandchildren--Kami, Kourtney, Katie, Mallory, Grayson, and Avery.