Monday, November 28, 2011

Slowing, part two

In my previous post I wrote out a bunch of excerpts from The Good and Beautiful God about slowing down. I wanted to take time to write a little bit more about my experience of slowing. As you can see, I haven't been in a real big hurry to get around to the second part of this post... I guess that's appropriate. ;-)

As we learn to slow down at first it may feel painful because we are so addicted to productivity, or used to hurrying. But as we physically slow ourselves down our hearts and spirits slow down too. And as I quoted before "The deepest part of the soul likes to go slow.... Slowing down the pace of our lives means eliminating hurry and limiting the demands and activities in our lives. Then we are more likely to take delight in our lives and make room for God."

Anyway, so in this book the author gives a lot of ideas for slowing yourself down. Drive in the slowest lane of traffic. Get in the longest line at the grocery store. This one is one of my favorites in a funny way: Take an hour to move like a sloth (I can just imagine someone doing this, walking across the living room with the slowest steps possible, taking 30 seconds to move the fork from the plate to your mouth, etc. It just makes me laugh). Make one day a slow day: linger over breakfast, cut out t.v. and media, go for a leisurely walk, watch the sunset. Plan a meal with friends or family: cook slowly, enjoy the smells of the food, linger over dinner, eat slowly, enjoy the food and company.

So I read all these ideas and then realized that the only thing I needed to do to slow down was to go at the pace of my children. Wow, do they ever go slow! I mean, sure, they have boundless energy and can run really fast, but as far as productivity goes, they go slow. It can take 10 minutes or more to get from the car to the front door, or worse vice versa (insert teeth grinding here). I often find myself telling them, "Hurry. Hurry!"

So a few weeks ago when I determined to slow down (as my homework prescribed) I decided that I would stop hurrying my children. I let them explore every puddle on the way from the car to the front door. I didn't rush them to get ready in the morning so that we could go and "do something better."

Of course, there are times when I needed to go quickly. But I resolved to do it with an unhurried heart, a heart that is not fearful but is fully resting in God's goodness to me regardless of circumstances. "I'll move my legs as fast as I can while my heart is happy and unhurried." (Remember that quote from the book? It's one of my favorites!)

Case in point: Wednesday mornings (Bible Study mornings). We have to be leaving our house with everyone dressed, fed, and presentable at 9:00. For us that usually means a hurried morning of pushing. I'm pushing Elisa to get dressed, pushing Jonathan to eat faster, pushing myself to get the dishwasher loaded and my makeup on. And all this, while trying to stem the tide of chaos which threatens to flood our house each moment. "Elisa, no you can't start an art project now. And didn't I just ask you to use the bathroom." "Jonathan, are you poopy again? I just changed you!" I have to say that we usually have some kind of major meltdown on Wednesday mornings (from a kid, not me, in case you were wondering... although I'm not far behind).

Almost always my hurry is fear related. I worry about what others will think of me if I'm late. I fear rejection, embarrassment, letting others down. My kids see that fear in me and mirror it. Then it builds and consumes us in a huge cycle... worry, fear, hurry, worry, fear, hurry.

One Wednesday morning not long ago, Elisa screamed and cried all the way to church. I was so rattled I missed a turn. And when I finally sat down at Bible Study it took about 10 minutes of deep breathing before I felt like my heart rate was back to normal.
But, on the first Wednesday morning of intentionally slowing my heart while trying to move my legs as fast as possible, there were no meltdowns. I had time for joy. I laughed with my kids. We looked at leaves on the ground on the way to the car. We still moved quickly. In fact I caught my kids telling each other, "Hurry. Hurry!" (The words that I had ingrained in them). But I corrected them, "No, it's okay. We do have to try to go quickly but we're okay. Everything will be okay." And that's what I was telling my heart at the same time. I kept repeating my mantra of "God has everything under control. I have nothing to fear."

I got to Bible Study early. My kids were happier than usual. I was happier than usual. It was wonderful.

Of course, I do have to add that the next time we went to Bible Study with this same unhurried heart philosophy I was quite late and had to walk in awkwardly and find a seat while everyone watched. But you know what? I didn't care. My kids were happy, no deep breathing was needed.

As I learn to go more slowly and stop hurrying my kids, I notice that I am doing less things... there are fewer outings to the library and the park. But I am enjoying the everyday things more. Diaper changes and putting on shoes and socks are not inconveniences on the way to something good. They are the good of the current moment. They are an opportunity to closely interact with my kids in a way that meets their needs. I am beginning to delight in the everyday moments instead of rushing off to the next place.

More on this topic to come... eventually... don't hurry me!


Jeana said...

This is so good! My favorite line: Diaper changes and putting on shoes and socks are not inconveniences on the way to something good. They are the good of the current moment.

Thank you for modeling this. I'm going to check out the books you mentioned in the first post and start practicing slowing, too.

Christa Forsythe said...

I had to come back and reread these two posts... they have been on my heart and mind since you wrote them back in November... slowly percolating, brewing, and taunting my thoughts... I need an unhurried life... there is so much chaos so much of the time... I loved the thoughts you shared! Given me so much to think about!