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An Unhurried Life (Pt. 1)

This post was written by Jim Smith, a long time friend of Project Patch who worked as a therapist at our Youth Ranch and helped launch our Family Experience.  He no longer works at Project Patch but continues to serve families, teens and equip the church for ministry. Businessman Wearing Cape

“An unhurried life?” Are you kidding? I mean, Let’s get real: Most everything about our lives borders on the hurry. As we approach the checkout at Wal-Mart (or any other store) we look at the lines. If we arrive at the same time as another shopper we both assess which line is the quickest. As we choose and go to our respective lines we keep an eye on each other. If we check out before the other person in the other line we feel a sense of victory, “Yahoo, I won.” Won what? It’s amazing, we feel elated if we can hurry faster than the other hurriers.

We hear commercials touting the fast life, as in working the 80-hour week, billing more hours, multitasking, and all this is held up as a good thing. If our pizza is not ready in so many minutes it’s free. Some freeways now have lighted signs that tell us how many minutes it will take to get over the pass or through the tunnel or across the bridge. We don’t care if the food is good or even cheap as long as it is fast food. Vacations can become contests to see how many sights we can fit in or miles we can cover rather than…rest.

John Ortberg in his book, “The Life You’ve Always Wanted: Spiritual disciplines for ordinary people,” relates the story of calling a trusted and wise friend to ask for spiritual direction. After Ortberg described his pace of life, rhythms of family life, and the present condition of his heart, he waited for his friend to pour forth a fountain of wise words.

After a long pause the friend said, “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.” The author thought there would be more and said as much to his friend but after another long pause the friend said, “There is nothing else.”

Ortberg goes on in the book to describe the reality that most of us are skimming through our lives rather than living them. We yearn for peace and yet pack our hurried lives with demands and routines that steal that very peace from us.

We all know there are times when hurry is necessary. Our plane arrives late and we have to hurry to make our connecting flight. We have to get a flat tire fixed and then hurry to pick up the kids after school. We have to hurry to the hospital to give comfort to a friend in need. A project at work needs a hurried pace as it nears the deadline. We also know that if our lives were generally more unhurried, those hurry-up times would not be so costly. It would be better for us if hurry was not a part of the majority of every day.

Ortberg notes that researchers Friedman and Ulmer in “Treating Type A Behavior–And Your Heart,” describe our hurry-up lives as, “above all, a continuous struggle and unremitting attempt to accomplish or achieve more and more things or participate in more and more events in less and less time, frequently in the face of opposition, real or imagined, from other persons.”

The reality is that we live in a hurry-up society with its hurry-up demands. Schedules, deadlines, activities, tweets and text messages all clamor for our attention and activity. When Jesus said that He came that we might have life and have it more abundantly, I don’t believe he was talking about a life filled up with urgency and frenzy. He offers much more. The first thing we need to do is give ourselves permission to un-hurry our lives a bit. When we enter heaven I don’t see Jesus saying, “Well done, you worked 14 hours a day and often didn’t take time to eat, that’s so awesome.”

This week, take time to take a breath and decompress. Over the next few weeks we’ll explore un-hurrying even further.