Since we connected last, I am proud to say that I have mastered the 4 areas (as outlined by John Mark Comer) required to “ruthlessly eliminate hurry” from my life. Granted, I was in Myrtle Beach when I wrote my last entry, came home for one day and flew out to Malibu, California to see my daughter and oldest son. They both work and she had school and homework much of the time, so I was forced to sit on the beach or poolside to kill time until I could see them. I worked really hard to finish the book I was reading about hurry and felt like I figured out the secret in just 2 short weeks, thank you very much.
At least that what I thought before I hit the ground running Monday.
OK, “Mastered” might be a strong word. But, I will say that I have been more aware of whether or not I am implementing any of these practices in my day to day life.
The book, The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer, outlines 4 easy-to-do-easy-not-to-do intentional practices to help aid ones’ attempt to ruthlessly eliminate hurry: Silence/Solitude, Slowing, Simplicity, and Sabbath.
Before we talk about those, I want to point out the definition of the word ruthless in order to give us a better picture of the manner in which this “hurry” must go. Webster’s defines it as “having no pity.” Some synonyms that I particularly resonate with are: ferocious, calloused, unsparing, cold-hearted, remorseless, barbaric, merciless, unrelenting. The idea here is that there’s no looking back. We know this busyness can kill us in the end so we have to be willing to go to any length to kick it out. Cut it off without regret or saving a bit of it to nurture secretly. All must go.
So, what does it look like for Heather to get out her sword and, with the power of God in me, slay this propensity to live in a frenzy? I want to say I have some good answers, but if I am honest, I have a few meager inklings that might get me started.
As I mentioned in my previous post (stop here and read that now if you haven’t so this one will make some sense), “hurry originates in the heart.”
What that means is you don’t have to panic or tune me out, because the goal is not to force yourself to just sit cross-legged and chant all day long, never engaging in a full day of activities or appointments. It’s about our inner state of being, which may or may not match our outer being.
Only you, or I, know how we are really existing in the inside.
I won’t try to recap the whole book. I strongly urge you to read that for yourself to get the full conviction of how hurry might be ravaging your life also. I just want to spend a few moments commenting on the areas he brought to my attention and confess and commit accordingly.
Silence and Solitude
Confession: I stink at this most of the time. I have a busy brain and I love being with people. Nothing wrong with that necessarily, but it makes it difficult to sit quietly with myself.
Commitment: Even though I still do what, in my church culture, is deemed a “quiet-time” each morning, I am going to be intentional about being more intimate with God and less distracted by texts, emails and doing what I did smack dab in the middle of said quiet-time this morning, check on-line for trendy colors to paint my kitchen. Clearly, I have some room for growth. 🙂
Confession: Even though I ruthlessly simplified by getting rid of almost half of my belongings a few years ago (when I downsized my home by half), I have slowly accrued more stuff and currently feel the weight of “too much”.
Commitment: Consider. Consider the real cost of something before I buy it. Will it add stress or steal time I don’t have to take care of it? Consider if I truly need it or if I am buying it to fill a void or to give me a hit when I feel blue or sad. Consider what I can give away and do without. Consider what might benefit others if I shared it. Consider if I can wait and be more thoughtful about my purchases. Apply the slogan “Pause. Pray. Proceed.” to anything I am tempted to bring in to my home. Do I really need 8 more candles from Bath and Body Works just because they are half price? Maybe….
Confession: Really, the only time I am slow is in my thinking capacity or going for a run. Other than that I am fueled by productiveness. This leads to a pretty packed schedule even when I am home on my “day off.”
Commitment: There are a few super annoying practices he suggests to practice slowing down. Like getting in longer of the two lines and possibly behind a Buick instead of the sports car at a stop light, on purpose. Or choosing to stand in the line at the grocery store and not monitoring whether you would be done already if you would have gotten in one of the other lines.
Refuse to multi-task. Keep my head with my hands, as they say. If I am making tea, just make tea. If I am working out, just work out. If I am talking to a friend, just be present with what they are saying. Be present and engaged with whatever I am doing at the moment.
Be not-controlled by my phone. Set specific times for email and Facebook-checking and avoid getting sucked in to either of those when I am simply looking at it to find out what time it is. I have even considered a radical solution; get myself a watch!
Also, an observation I had while on my two week vacation: I get considerably less emails and texts from others when I am not sending them. I have complained in the past about the constant barrage of both, but when I checked out, so did the people and companies on the other end. I can’t tell you how many times I picked up my phone after an hour and had no notifications of anything. What that tells me is that I have more control than I thought about the constant chatter from my phone. It turns out, I was the one stirring the pot.
Confession: I purposely saved this one for last because I truly can’t figure out how to do it. Or, embarrassingly, if I am willing to do it. The word Sabbath comes to us from the Hebrew word Shabbat, and it literally means, “STOP.” It is one of the Ten Commandments that I have chosen to flat out ignore for about 30 years. Take one day a week to just STOP and rest. Stop worrying. Stop working. Stop wanting. Stop striving. Just stop.
Commitment: This one is the hardest of all for me. I actually feel a little like the “rich young ruler” in the Bible. The story is about a rich man who asks Jesus what he must do to be complete. He knew something was missing in his life. Jesus tells him to sell all he has and give it to the poor and then come follow him.(Matthew 19:21) The man went away sad because he had a lot of money and stuff and just couldn’t stand to give it up.
That’s a bit how I felt when I thought through what it would look like for me to take a Sabbath day. I felt sad because I didn’t know, and still don’t know, how that could look for me. How do I do that with my job and my schedule and my responsibilities and my job? The bigger question is, do I really trust God enough to take care of me financially and emotionally if I don’t answer that Zillow Call? That email? That opportunity for fun?
I love how Comer puts it from his personal experience with non-Sabbathing:
“We all come to Sabbath. Voluntarily or involuntarily. Eventually the grain of the universe caught up with me and I crashed, hard. My sabbatical was like playing catch-up on a decade of missed Sabbaths, come to collect with interest.
I’m guessing you have a story too. If not, you will. Sabbath is coming for you, whether as a delight or a discipline.” (p. 159)
I love and hate that. It’s poetic but oh, so true.
You may recall that I had a little run-in with Leukemia a few years ago. There are not many know causes for it, but one speculation is extreme stress. Potentially, how I was handling or not handling my life circumstance may have contributed to that. I did some counseling afterwards, and I can still hear my counselor saying, when I pushed back on his suggestions or exhibited resistance to digging deeper,
“Heather, you can either do this standing up or laying down. And you have already done it laying down in a hospital bed.” In other words, you can recover and heal willingly, or you can get sick to death and have no choice but to do the work to get healthy.
That’s how I see Sabbathing: we can do it willingly or we can ignore that practice until we end up in a hospital bed. Or addicted. Or Divorced. Or empty and lonely. Or mentally, emotionally and spiritually fried.
I mentioned that this is a tough one for me. But I am committed to come to a solution that will work for me so I can continue to do life “standing up.”