I decided to make a New Years resolution this year. I’m not going any cleanse diets, and I’m not taking up cross fit or kickboxing. My resolution is very simple and yet I believe it will have a profound impact on my life. In the simplest terms, it is this: Eliminate hurry, eliminate worry.
I ran across the above quote from Dallas Willard several months ago, and it really floored me. He says, “hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day.” I believe that is true. In the past, I’ve been very open and honest with friends, family and even as a pastor in front of my church that I have struggled with anxiety issues for several years. For me, it’s generally not a debilitating condition, but it’s something that is just there nagging at me on hard days and during stressful times. While I think there are several causes and triggers for anxiety in my life, I know one of my main issues is that I often try to live my life at a breakneck pace. When you are a pastor, husband and dad of two school age kids, life simply refuses to slow down. There’s always someone to pick-up or drop-off, some ministry work that needs to be finished, some task around the house that requires my attention, some school meeting or dance performance to attend, and the list goes on and on.
As if all that wasn’t enough, I find that I actually add to my own busyness through adding more unnecessary causes for hurry. The smartphone is one of the greatest curses (and blessings) of the modern world. I often find myself constantly checking social media pages, searching for used junk to buy on craigslist, over-caffeinating myself throughout the day, constantly replying to emails/texts, and trying to keep up on the latest news and world affairs. None of these things are necessarily bad or sinful in and of themselves, but when added together along with my other responsibilities, they lead to a condition psychologists refer to as “hurry sickness.”
I often catch myself rushing through traffic, changing lanes to get ahead or getting irritated at the slow driver in front me, even during times when I’m not in any particular rush to get where I’m going. I always try to pick the shortest lane at the grocery store, and then lament and moan when the line next to me starts moving faster even though it seemed to be longer at first. And don’t even get me started on the people who stop me from being able to move my cart at Costco while they are waiting for their precious free samples. This is hurry sickness.
In the gospels, Jesus never seemed to be in a hurry. He was focused, determined to do the Father’s will, and had a very good sense of timing. But he was never in a hurry. There were many times that He withdrew from the crowds and the craziness going on around Him to pray and commune with His Father in solitude. As He was on the way to heal the daughter of Jairus (who was deathly ill already), He stopped and took time to minister to the woman with the issue of blood. It wasn’t that Jesus didn’t have plenty of things to do, but He focused on the important things in life and didn’t allow small matters to become causes for hurry or anxiety. I want to be more like Jesus, and the Scriptures tell us that God’s Spirit dwells within us in order to empower us to become more like Him (see Romans 8:29).
So my resolution is to “ruthlessly eliminate hurry” from my life. I’ll be honest though, I’m a work in progress. When you’ve trained yourself to hurry all the time it becomes second nature to live your life with the pedal to the metal. I want to learn more about the spiritual disciplines of rest, Sabbath, enjoying life and not allowing busyness to blind me to all of the wonderful things God is doing in my life every day. Paul gives us His famous list of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23
As I meditated upon those wonderful attributes of those who are bearing fruit for God’s Kingdom, I realized that none of those things come as a result of living a hurried life. In fact, quite the opposite. The fruit of hurry sickness is: irritability, anger, strife, turmoil, name-calling, harshness, self-indulgence, anxiety, depression and chaos. I know none of us want those qualities to be the fruit of our life.
So maybe you’ll want to join me in my resolution to eliminate hurry from your life also. I can’t speak as an expert just yet. I’ve only been at it for a few weeks. But so far, I’ve found that really taking the time read the Scriptures and pray goes along way toward breaking the chains of living a hurried life. Focusing on the best things and eliminating “good but time-wasting” things is important. Eliminating some of those practices which trigger stress and anxiety is a key. Simply reminding myself throughout the day, “you’re not in a hurry, slow down” has been helpful. Focusing on gratitude and thanking God for His continual blessings helps steer our hearts toward contentment and rest. I would love to hear any more practical tips my fellow “hurriers” might have on how they have learned to slow down. Don’t forget, we have the Spirit of God to help us in our weakness. Pray, pray and pray some more. God bless you!