How Do We Know When It Is Time To Slow Down?

by Christine Sine


God we gaze on your world.001

Tom and I are heading out this morning for our quarterly retreat time and I know that the question at the forefront of my mind is” Is it time to slow down? As you can see from the prayer above which I first posted on the Facebook page Light for the Journey yesterday, I am already thinking about what slowing down looks like.

Life has been frantically busy over the last month and I know that when that happens my life gets out of synch. When that happens I start to see myself as a consumer rather than as a child of God. I start to feel that work is more important than relationships and that pleasing myself is more important than pleasing God. None of that is what God intends. I always remember Richard Foster saying Busyness is not of the devil, it is the devil. I think he is right. The busier we are the less connected we are to our inner selves, to others and to God.

Ironically I find that I need to slow down in order to recognize my need to slow down. Unless I deliberately build routines into my schedule that encourage me to focus away from work onto relationships and away from the computer onto God’s world I get into a vicious cycle that moves me from one busy activity to another.

There are several signs I look for that make me aware that I am getting too busy. Some of them seem very trivial but are great early warning signs that I must confess I don’t always take notice of.

  1. I don’t want to take time for my morning routines. I use a sonic toothbrush which is set for 2 minutes of brushing and there are times when I get very impatient with the cycle. Then I start to skip my morning exercises. Then I cut back on my time with God. And surprise, surprise, then I start making excuses for why work is more important than anything else. These, I am learning are good indications that I am either getting too busy or too stressed to look at life’s essential routines realistically.
  2. I don’t want to stop for meals. Fast food and meals on the go are for me a good indication that my life is out of synch. I quickly forget that food is a gift from God meant to be enjoyed and savoured. It is not just another commodity meant to be consumed.
  3. I cut out my daily walks. Walking is a great way for all of us to reduce stress. This is not treadmill walking or a workout at the gym that I am talking about here. It is walking the neighbourhood or for me, around Greenlake with its three mile trail that is important.  This kind of walking encourages us to pause and take notice of God, to recognize my own insignificance and to relax in the fact that I do not bear the burden of seeing God’s world changed on my own.
  4. I refuse to say no to new projects even though my time is already fully committed. It is nice to be needed and I know I am not alone in accepting more on my plate than I should. Unfortunately the busier I get the less time I take to reflect when I am asked to add something else to my schedule. Learning to say “let me pray about it” or “let me talk to my husband” are two responses that always help me be realistic. The busier we get the more we need to seek the counsel of others before committing ourselves.

So my question for all of us today is: What are the signs that your life is getting too busy and how do you respond? 

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