It’s true that our greatest strength can also become our greatest weakness. In this mothering life, it’s a great mercy that I can fold laundry, listen to a podcast, and monitor dinner on the stove, all while pondering the introduction for my next book review. The real question is, “Can I stop the multi-tasking when I should? Can I devote my undivided attention to the words of a son on the phone or to the excited ramblings of my blue-eyed granddaughter?”
The answer is sad, but hopeful: Not without focused intention in that direction.
Motivation for this improvement in my life has come recently from the writing of John Mark Comer. In a season of preaching six times every Sunday (!!!), he stopped long enough to ask, “What if I changed my life?” He captures that journey away from a life of hurry and his movement toward an embrace of Jesus’s easy yoke and light burden in The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry: How to Stay Emotionally Healthy and Spiritually Alive in the Chaos of the Modern World.
I read Comer’s invitation to “live freely and lightly” while on vacation.
He’s simply echoing the words of Jesus:
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
Exchanging the Hurry-Up Lifestyle
Perfect, right? Watching all the frenzied souls teeming through airports and lined up in city traffic, I could nod my head virtuously and agree fully with his premise that “hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day.” (Loc 288) But here’s the catch: In my everyday, non-vacationing life, there is SO much that needs doing, and I don’t have a staff! I wear several hats, and everything I do is important (to someone, anyway).
How do I exchange my own hurry-up lifestyle for something closer to what Jesus modeled? How do I avoid the trap John Ortberg describes: “The great danger is not that we will reounce our faith. It is that we will become so distracted and rushed and preoccupied that we will settle for a mediocre version of it. We will just skim our lives istead of actually living them.” (Loc 388)
The solution Comer tenders is unpopular and is certainly not the stuff bestsellers are made of:
Accept your limitations. Accept Jesus’s easy yoke.”
Jesus’s Easy Yoke
In New Testament times, “the yoke” was a way of thinking about a teacher’s manner of reading Torah. Jesus describes his own way of shouldering the load as “easy,” and twelve men apprenticed under him in that invitation to the easy yoke. Eugene Peterson referred to this as “the unforced rhythms of grace,” which sounds delightfully theological, but, as with many things in life, huge changes come with the accumulation of a number of small lifestyle adjustments.
With that in mind, how can a 21st-century hurry-addicted Enneagram 3 adopt the lifestyle of Jesus?
Comer traces hurry to three momentous historic inventions:
- The Roman sundial by which we began to measure and slice and dice our hours;
- The light bulb by which we began to extend our productivity and shrink our sleep;
- The smart phone by which we carry the world in our pocket.
He then goes on to describe and to offer guidelines for adopting a rule of life that makes room for interruptions (which may actually turn out to be the main thing after all) and to leave room for prayer, rest, and healthy community. Spiritual disciplines of silence and solitude, sabbath, simplicity, and slowing sound quaint and even liturgical to modern ears, and yet they are medicine for the contiually rushing and anxious soul.
Practical applications of a slowing lifestyle might include driving the speed limit, choosing the longest line at the grocery store, setting mindful limits around the tyranny of email, limiting social media and television, or purposefully choosing to remember how to single-task. Now that I’m back from vacation, I have begun putting these adjustments to the test–the question being not, “Will they work?” (I can see that the suggestions make abundant sense.) Rather the real question is this:
“Can I embrace, by faith, an unhurried life and trust that what I have accomplished in my allotted time is all that God intended for me to do?”
[Stay tuned for a follow up post in the future!]
Many thanks to Waterbrook Multomah for providing a copy of this book to facilitate my review, which, of course, is offered freely and with honesty.
Trusting for grace to embrace the easy yoke and the light burden,
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