Accept your limitations. Accept Jesus's easy yoke. Learn the "unforced rhythms of grace."

The Freedom of Choosing an Unhurried Life

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:

  1. The Roman sundial by which we began to measure and slice and dice our hours;
  2.  The light bulb by which we began to extend our productivity and shrink our sleep;
  3. 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?”

We’ll see…

[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,

michele signature[1]

 

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47 thoughts on “The Freedom of Choosing an Unhurried Life”

  1. Oh Michele this is so spot on. Hurry is the enemy of spiritual life…that’s so true! So is busy! We are either rushing around to get things done or we are piling on more things to fill empty spots on the calendar.
    I’m actually drafting up a blog post on the topic of busy because it’s been the enemy of my spiritual life but you made me see that hurry is too. I rush through everything! Thank you so much for this reminder and thank you for linking up @worthbeyondrubies

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    1. This book has made me want to hunt down the writing of John Ortberg.
      This book has made me super aware of how much of a hurry addict I am.
      Not sure if I think there’s a gold medal for the one who gets to the end of the do-list first…?

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  2. Ugh! I feel as if this book was written just for me, Michele. I am a hurrier and multi-tasker. I too must remind myself to SLOW DOWN and listen, pay attention, be quiet and still. Wonderful reminder!

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  3. As I’ve gotten older (and hopefully wiser), I’ve learned the importance, the necessity, of taking things at a slower, more intentional pace. It has been a blessing for me in so many ways. This book sounds like a winner, Michele!
    Blessings!

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  4. I am taking more rests now, time off to engage and just be, but I am still trying to multitask to get all my tasks done. Anxious to listen to this book. Just ordered it from my library. The hard part is being a momma and wanting to serve others and yes, since someone wants what I am doing to be done, not disappointing them.

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    1. That’s such a hard tension to manage for me too, Theresa. I don’t think I’m necessarily a “pleaser,” but I am well aware that if I don’t do something, it’s not likely to get done because no one is beating down the door to take it on. It takes a lot of courage to just drop a task and let it lie, trusting that God is also sovereign over this.

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  5. The pendulum swings! I remember reading in a Christian magazine back in the late 70s or early 80s about multi-tasking. It was the first time I had seen that term. The scripture backdrop was Ephesians 5:16: “Make the most of the time, because the days are evil.” It sounded so sensical and super-efficient to that much younger me! Now, forty years later (!), we’ve come to realize a pace of non-stop busy-ness–even doing good things–is more harmful than helpful. “God designed us to hide in Him, not perform for Him” (Sara Hagerty, Unseen, p. 31). Looks like John Mark Comer is on the same wise wave length. (Can wave lengths be wise?!)

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    1. Yes, multi-tasking was lauded like a new invention in the days of our youth–completely forgetting our pioneer sisters from the previous century who worked at multiple tasks all day every day just as a matter of survival!
      I loved Unseen, and hadn’t thought of that book for ages. Thanks for the great quote from it.

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  6. This danger is so real: ” 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 instead of actually living them.” We know our worth isn’t in accomplishing our to-do list, yet…things need to get done. May God give us wisdom to know what He wants us to spend time on and what He wants us to let go of.

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  7. This book is next on my list of books to read and I am looking forward to getting into it, so I loved reading your thoughts. In a season where I am busy, but feel it is with things God is calling me to do, I’m looking forward to reading more about how to keep doing what I’m meant to do while finding the right balance and avoiding that sense of frantic hurry that it would be easy to fall into.

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  8. I will say that I just learned ( just learned) that my school district has cancelled instruction for the next three weeks due to the coronavirus. In many ways I am thankful. Quiet times, unhurried days, long walks, time to think and not be in a rush are on the top of my list of things I will be LOVING. Thanks for linking up today.

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  9. Hi Michele – I write a lot about being Unbusy and Unhurried on my blog these days. Since I stopped working, I’ve given myself permission to slow down and to be okay with not always having a dozen things on my to-do list. I love that my mind is free, I have time to think and pray and listen to podcast teachings, and generally be more present and in the moment. Our society rewards busy-ness, I choose to step away from that and it’s been such a blessing. I can highly recommend a slower and simpler life.

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  10. Hurry and busy…it’s a part of every life. Although, taking time throughout the day to stop, pray, study my Bible and pay attention has helped. I also put the business aside, (as much as possible) when my hubby is around. It really helps to slow me down. Great post!

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  11. My life got so hurried that I had to stop reading this book. 😦 But, in a way, that’s progress because I had too many books going at once and I had to pull back. I look forward to when I can return to this book. I know there is much here for me to learn.

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  12. Since suffering a stroke which has left me disabled, I long for the hectic time watching life that I used to lead#globalblogging@_karendenis

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  13. Michele, this is a wonderful post! It’s true, in our hectic lives, we often forget that the way of living with Jesus is yoke easy and burden light. I have found in my spiritual walk, the “more I do,” the less effective I am – at anything! It is in our rest with the Lord that we hear His heartbeat, feel and know His presence intimately and get filled up to overflow with His precious Holy Spirit for us to pour out on others.

    I believe one of the enemy’s greatest tools to make us burnt out, worn out, stressed out and ineffective is this issue of time. Re-prioritizing what we deem truly important in life helps us see that so much of what we do isn’t what God actually would have us to do. When we take on His ways and listen to what He would have us do in any given day, I’ve found my day is *much* easier and less hurried with stress inducing thoughts.

    Thank you for sharing this. We all need the reminder to slow down, listen to Father God and simply rest in His presence. When we do, He fills us up with all we need so we can be all we need to be for others. First, it’s Him lavishing His love on us and us on Him! 💞

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    1. I hope readers make their way down to the bottom of “the page” to find this addition to the conversation here. Your thoughts on hurry are so spot on, and we really do “work ourselves” into a frenzy when we operate out of stress.
      Blessings to you as you listen and rest.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Interesting to read this review, Michele. Circumstances in our nation are causing us all to slow down a bit. May the Lord teach us all to rest in Him as so much of our normal activities come to a temporary halt.

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    1. Yes, there’s certainly a mandate to slow down and stay home, and I’m trusting that we will find grace to use that time for something more productive than worry and anxiety!

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  15. Thank you for this, Michele! A lot of us are exchanging hurry for the unhurried lifestyle this week. Trying to enjoy it and not be stressed! Thanks for the book suggestion!

    Pinned to our Books You Will Love group board.

    Thank you for linking up at InstaEncouragements!

    Like

  16. Michele, I haven’t read this one yet, but after reading your review, I’m motivated to order it. Thank you for sharing this wisdom.

    And thanks so much for joining the Grace at Home party at Imparting Grace. I’m featuring you this week!

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  17. Not to make light of the current COVID-19 and the very real challenges it is bringing to many, I have wondered if part of God’s purpose in all this is to slow us down and remind us just how much we need Him and His way of living.

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  18. I think everyone will be taking a considered look at their own lives in the coming days and realsiign that we need to value family and health over everything else. Thanks for linking up with #dreamteamlinky

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  19. Thank you for sharing at #OverTheMoon. Pinned and shared. Have a lovely week. I hope to see you at next week’s party too! Come party with us at Over The Moon! Catapult your content Over The Moon! @marilyn_lesniak @EclecticRedBarn Please everyone stay safe and healthy. Hugz.

    Liked by 1 person

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