My husband has spent the last month doing some work in a busy shopping centre at Christmas time. Whilst working he recognised some people he had known in the past. I asked him it he’d said hello, and He replied, “No, they looked in too much of a hurry to stop and talk”.
It makes me wonder how often we all “hurry in life”, trying to squeeze too much into too little time, and in the process diminishing what time we do have because we are too stressed to enjoy it. As a result stress is leading to unprecedented health problems. “Stop the world I want to get off” is a feeling many have.
Most of us are consumed with speed. The very thought of slowing down brings negative connotations. When we think of slowing down we think of falling behind, or being someone who didn’t make it. We work quickly, play quickly, and spend time with our loved ones quickly – all while multi-tasking. We drive in the fast lane and eat fast food. We text instead of talking, esteem quantity instead of quality, and swallow life whole, instead of taking the time to savour it.
But how great a toll does living in the fast lane take? The need to push it, strive, go harder and faster seems to be encoded into us from the moment we are born. Doesn’t all this speed take a toll? Our relationships suffer, our creativity suffers, and our health; mentally, spiritually, emotionally and physically can suffer.
The antidote to all this speed is to slow down in the way we live our lives. Taking things slower means being more purposeful. It won’t cause us to fall behind, but rather enables us to catch up – with friends, and family, with our health, with God, and with what’s really important.
There are some things we may want to do quickly, but perhaps we just can’t live there.
My husband is a hugger. When I am looking hurried and harried he grabs hold of me and gives me a hug. My hugs tend to be short and sweet, however he says that he must hug me for at least 20 seconds for me to get the benefit of the hug. At 20 seconds he says he can “feel” me slow down, relax and hug him back.
Slowing down does just that. It gathers our friends and family in a big “long hug”, so we can laugh, cry, hug, cheer, and simply be there for one another. We have time to listen to one another, and we have time to spend time and listen to God, who never intended for us to live in a constant state of motion, stress and striving.
He constantly says in His word to be still, to come to him when we are weary and heavy laden, and to have times of reflection and quiet. However none of these things we can do in a hurry, and when we are conforming to the ways of the world around us.
As the New Year approaches consider the value in “shifting down a gear” and going slower. Consider the importance of going through your life gentler, and connecting more deeply with God, and with who, and what is really important.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect”. (Romans 12:2)
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.‘ (Matthew 11:28)