“Not long after moving to Chicago, I called a wise friend to ask for some spiritual direction. I described the pace of life in my current ministry. The church where I serve tends to move at a fast clip. I also told him about our rhythms of family life: we are in the van-driving, soccer-league, piano-lesson, school-orientation-night years. I told him about the present condition of my heart, as best I could discern it. What did I need to do, I asked him, to be spiritually healthy?
‘You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life,’ he said at last.
Another long pause.
‘Okay, I’ve written that one down,’ I told him, a little impatiently. ‘That’s a good one. Now what else is there?’ I had many things to do, and this was a long-distance call, so I was anxious to cram as many units of spiritual wisdom into the least amount of time possible.
Another long pause.
‘There is nothing else,’ he said. ‘You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.’
I’ve concluded that my life and the well-being of the people I serve depends on following his prescription, for hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day. Hurry destroys souls. As Carl Jung wrote, ‘Hurry is not of the devil; hurry is the devil.’”
~ John Ortberg, teaching pastor at Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois, as written in Christianity Today.
I’m bringing serenity back. I’d like to bring some sexy back while I’m at it, but today, serenity will have to do.
After a year and a half of alternating teaching commitments with large writing projects, I’m hopping off the expressway of hurry. It’s funny how I don’t even realize I’ve merged onto the expressway until I’m miles into my drive with my foot pressed hard against the accelerator.
As I began preparing for this last teaching commitment over spring break, I felt deep within my heart that it was time to take a break. Time to cut back my schedule. Time to focus primarily on the mission field of my home and on the people God has so graciously given me. My church family. My neighbors. And yes, even my blog.
For too long, I’ve been telling my kids, “Not now, Mommy is working.” And this from the Mother who chose to quit her job in 1997 to stay home with the children.
If I wasn’t verbally telling them “not now,” I was feeling the pressure of the unfinished project weighing heavily on my shoulders while I took the time to tend to a child’s needs.
During nap times, rather than taking a break to recharge for the second half of my day, I was seizing the precious hour to squeeze in just one more task.
On the weekends, rather than looking for opportunities to connect as a family or invite someone over for dinner, I was trying to figure out how to get a good chunk of guilt-free writing time while my husband took care of our kids.
In the mornings, rather than joyfully anticipating my quiet time with the Lord, I was hoping God was okay with my attempts to double up my efforts by merging my prayer time with my Bible research time.
I’m not sure why, but ever since I became a stay-at-home mom, I’ve struggled with the concept of that role being “enough.” For some reason, I’ve always felt like I’ve had to do or be something in addition to being a wife, mother and friend.
As if running a household and raising three small children allows time for more.
I love being a mother. I honestly do. But somewhere deep within my brain, I’ve absorbed the concept that in order to be truly pleasing to God, I need to pursue external ministry opportunities in addition to the ginormous ministry opportunity of personally discipling three little kids from infanthood to adulthood. Otherwise, I’m not growing and fully developing the gifts God has so generously given me.
Is that true? Or could it be that perhaps I’ve spent a little too much time looking at what other women are doing and self-imposing their callings on my own life?
My pendulum swings ever-so-slowly toward increased time commitments. Increased external ministry opportunities. Increased gift utilization. And, thus, increased hurry. I honestly don’t know how I keep ending up here.
To be fair to myself, I don’t think I’ve totally missed God’s divine leading. I sincerely prayed about each opportunity as it presented itself, and I sensed God’s anointing on each one. I’ve consulted my husband and received his blessing prior to saying yes to anything.
But somewhere in the last few months—in the middle of my ministry preparation and my hurry—I’ve felt the holy nudge toward the beautiful little faces that greet me each morning and toward the husband who so graciously allows his wife to passionately pursue her dreams.
It’s time to be completely present to my people. I’m laying aside the constant gnawing and nagging to study for the class I’m teaching or research statistics for the proposal I’m writing and, instead, purposely picking up serenity. Ruthlessly eliminating hurry.
I’m not even sure what this looks like, because I’ve been in a state of hurry for quite some time. But I know it won’t come easily. Not only am I bucking against a society that celebrates efficiency, but I’m merging life with a husband who prefers to have his calendar more crammed than I do mine—who prefers to drive in the fast lane (both figuratively and literally). A husband who works as a hospital executive, coaches our son’s baseball team and is currently training for a Half Iron Man, among other things.
This should be interesting.
For a while, it will probably feel like I’m going 45 mph in a 70 mph zone. My hubby doesn’t have much patience for those slow drivers. So I’m thinking I’ll need to convince him to to pull off the highway altogether and take the scenic route with me instead.
I’m not really sure what it looks like or how long I’ll be here before God shifts my balance in the other direction…but I sort of envision it this way:
When Elliana asks me to play baby dolls or push her on the swing, I will say “of course, sweetheart, let’s go.” I will enjoy morning devotions with my sweet Rebekah on the deck. I will invite Elijah to join me in the kitchen while I’m preparing dinner so he can stir the pasta and tell me all about the latest book he’s reading. I’m going to dig out the zoo membership and actually use it.
Until further notice, I’m not accepting any offers to do anything that will take my time and attention away from my children or preclude me from extending hospitality to our amazing friends. So if, by chance, you are a major publisher who happened across my blog in a random act of fate, and you are about to offer me a huge advance for my first book deal, I hope you can wait until fall.
I’m completely booked for the next few months.