It’s only taken nine months… to read a book about eliminating hurry. I don’t think that’s quite the point, I just didn’t prioritise the time to read it.

In July I had an anxiety attack. That began my season of intentionally looking at my life, changing priorities (in truth being clearer with my priorities and actually following them) and slowing down. This included re-engaging with reading. Hence, finally getting back to a book about eliminating hurry.

I opened it to where I’d left off. I ‘happened’ to be at the chapter about the practice of Sabbath.

A few weeks later, I led an online retreat for ministry leaders to encourage them to take time out of the busy-ness of life and refocus on God and with God. At the same time I was preparing to lead a chapel service at work and so adapted my notes for this too. All about slowing down, making time with God, keeping the Sabbath. Delighting myself in God’s presence and being far more present. I also edited a blog post that I’d begun writing two months earlier – about slowing down.

All of these practices speak to a fullness of life that I’d been missing which in turn had led to my anxiety attack. I started to implement changes to my daily and weekly routines and attempted to refocus my priorities. I felt better and then I had another anxiety attack in August.

Okay, God, what are you trying to tell me? It’s been an interesting season of reflection, of being vulnerable, of asking for help, of changing priorities and doing things differently. Of reminding myself that God is in control and leaning into God and trusting God rather than trying to force my own ideas or ways as a solution.

In the midst of all of this I was reading, “The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry” by John Mark Comer. I highly recommend this. Actually, Tim has been highly recommending this all year and finally I’ve caught on!

This book begins by describing and unpacking our world of hurry and speed and the solution of not pursuing more time (or any of the other worldly ways of buzzing from one thing to the next) but instead adopting a rule of life around spiritual disciplines. What is old is new again… (I say this a lot in ministry 😊).

Comer then unpacks four practices for unhurrying your life:

  • Silence and solitude
  • Sabbath
  • Simplicity
  • Slowing

In various ways, I’ve been including elements of these into my life for years but particularly since having children I’ve lost some of these practices. As I found myself battling anxiety, and as we all find ourselves struggling with life in 2020, these practices speak deeply to a fullness of life that is missing, that my soul is literally breaking itself over not having.

Please note, that I am not suggesting these practices are the only way to deal with anxiety. I know that this is a significant medical condition for many people. I know that anxiety occurs for different reasons and in different ways for people. For my anxiety I’ve seen my GP and been referred on to specialist help with my counsellor as well as receiving support from colleagues and family for which I am so grateful. I am also grateful for books that encourage me in how I follow Jesus.

These practices and seeking to ‘unhurry’ our lives assists us to keep our eyes on Jesus and live more fully in Jesus’ way of life. This will help all of us in some way, no matter what we are dealing with.

“The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry” is a book I will be re-reading – possibly annually, hopefully not over a whole year! I want to be re-reminded again and encouraged afresh to make further changes, probably small shifts to start with about how I’m choosing to live. I want to be more fully present when I’m with my children, I don’t want my phone demanding my attention just because it’s there. I want to simplify our home and our routines so that we have more intentional time to invest in each other and those around us. I want to delight in God’s presence in our life and enjoy celebrating life with God, seeking to be content with what we have and where we are – even as we plan for what might be next for our family, we can know contentment and joy with God right now, right here. My husband and I are negotiating time for each of us to have at least an hour of solitude every weekend. This isn’t easy but we each function, if not flourish, so much better when we each get this. Time to refresh ourselves in our own ways, in our own space (yes, we’re both introverts).

And you can find me at least one morning a week at a café somewhere in Adelaide, carving out some time for me to read, reflect, write, journal, making space to not just rush into the office and onto the next task or project or meeting but to slow down, find affirmation or new inspiration, to be renewed. I’ve begun putting my commute to work, literally, by listening to podcasts about intergenerational ministry or ministry leadership or eliminating hurry as I drive to and from the office. Things that had been causing my stress levels to increase (a return to commuting, rushing to pick up children, limiting hours in the office, not engaging in professional development) have all been addressed in this one simple action. God is so good.

And I’m really stopping at stop signs (p224). Who knew a book about eliminating hurry would make me a safer driver as well as a more engaged follower of Jesus.

If you would like to borrow a copy of “The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry” by John Mark Comer, contact the Intergen Team via intergen@sa.uca.org.au

I also recommend the podcast: “Fight Hustle, End Hurry” by John Mark Comer and Jefferson Bethke.