The calendar winds down and I stand on the brink of a new month—swept up in the afterbreeze of these fast-moving days. Between work and family, responsibilities and recreation, events and emergencies, April 2013 has made its blurry mark.
Some of those dizzying 43,200 minutes have been spent reading Ann Kroeker’s Not So Fast: Slow-Down Solutions for Frenzied Families. Ann has beckoned us to ease back the pace and to savor a few more of those minutes.
How I needed to hear it.
My month started at an alarming pace (my eyes are always bigger than the whitespace on my calendar when it comes to fun new projects) ...until one of those nasty spring-season head colds got me. Before I felt completely awful, I actually was happy to have the excuse of a cold to get some downtime.
There is just so much wrong with that.
Sadly, once the sickness came in full force, the downtime was not so sweet. It’s hard to enjoy slow days when you feel miserable. I didn’t even feel well enough to read—which is just plain sad.
Between naps and coughing fits, these words from Psalm 46 echoed in my cold-wearied mind: “Be still, and know that I am God.”
When my life runs too fast, I don’t have time to be still and know this God who made me—for a purpose. How I need God’s purpose and vision for my life! For without it, I am pulled to faulty substitutes to gain a defining sense of self.
In chapters 16 and 17, Ann highlights two of those substitutes, peeling back the façade of excessive shopping and the danger of improper sexual expression:
“Marketers try to convince us we don’t have enough of something or don’t have the right kind; they woo us to upgrade to the new-and-improved version.” (195)
“From a young age, boys learn from all of these sources that they should be relentless in pursuit of women, while girls learn to view themselves as sex objects.” (209)
Our culture is soaked with messages of consumerism and sensuality. We spend most of our time pursuing more of things and people, and we teach our children to do the same. Our busy lives don’t have room to be still, to know God, to take our place in God’s grand narrative. Nor is there time for the thinking and creativity we were wired for, as Ann notes in chapter 18:
“If a child is never given time to focus, ponder his experiences, or make connections, we’re robbing him of a critical step in learning and personal development.” (219)
Our busy living has robbed us—kids and adults alike.
When I think of busyness as a thief, it gives me a bit more gumption to stand up for myself and to protect those I love. I don't want to stand by, go with the flow, and find myself 43,200 minutes down the road stuck on the couch, somewhat happy to have a miserable cold so I can stop the crazy train for a day or two.
Ultimately, the heart of Ann’s book is one of devotion. The heart that seeks God will come to know Him, and therein be known by Him. Busy living steals our hearts, leaving us too barren for deep love, and this is the caution Ann gives.
Now at the end of this read, all my busy isn’t settled and done. Like all of life, this is a process, one that beckons me to cling whole-heartedly to Jesus as I test and try my schedule and commitments. I am with Ann who says:
“Every day I need Jesus to help me discern the next step to take. . . . I’ll need the Lord’s ongoing assurance and reminders to stay on this path, the slower path, or I’ll slip right back onto the heavily traveled fast lane.” (236–237)
On Mondays in April we've been discussing Ann Kroeker's book Not So Fast: Slow-Down Solutions for Frenzied Families. If you've posted on your blog about the book, leave your link in the comments. Or, just jump in the discussion! Join us next week as we start a new book discussion for the month of May on The LIfe of the Body: Physical Well-being and Spiritual Formation by Valerie E. Hess and Lane M. Arnold. We'll cover the introduction and chapters 1-2 next week.