Hurry and slow

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Photo by mauro mora on Unsplash

As a kid, I never did anything quickly.

I was born a month past my due date.

I didn’t learn to walk until I was almost 18-months old.

And once I learned to walk, I still took my time. I have distinct memories of my mom hurrying me along by saying “quick like a bunny.”

In high school, I still hadn’t figured out how to hurry. My friends mercilessly and lovingly teased me for my sauntering pace…taking in everything around me as they all rushed to wherever we were going next.

My natural tendency is to move slow. But our world is not conducive to slow, so slowly, I became a hurrier.

Now I pack too much into most days. I forget things and have to retrace my steps which is inefficient and irritating. I’m very familiar with the moment I switch from “I have so much time” to “holy cow I’m going to be late”. I get annoyed when other people get onto my elevator and press floors that I don’t need to go to. I’ve come to value efficiency – I want to get things done quickly and with minimal extra steps.

I recently listened to a podcast from the Meeting House with guest speaker John Mark Comer. He talked about ruthlessly eliminating hurry from our lives. He talked about the poison that hurry seeps onto our lives, our relationships, our creativity. It was so incredibly convicting, I wanted to write about it.

I’m writing this on a Sunday. This morning, I was incredibly efficient. I went to the grocery store before church. After church, I ran some errands before coming home to put dinner in a slow cooker. By noon, my only obligations for the day were complete, so I decided to drive to Starbucks to do some writing. On my way down to my car, the elevator stopped on the 11th floor and that familiar twinge of elevator annoyance bubbled up.

An older lady got on and pressed the “G” button, which meant one more stop before I would get to my floor. Even more annoying.

Then to my surprise, she apologized.

“I’m sorry,” she said, “I’m going to delay you.”

Could she read my mind? Or was my for-no-reason annoyance actually filling up the elevator?

And really, she was going to delay me from…what? Getting to Starbucks to write away the afternoon? Because the 30-second delay was going to make a huge difference to the rest of my day? No, not even a little bit.

I sighed.

“Please don’t apologize,” I told her. “I’m not in a hurry, and I needed to be reminded of that.”

She smiled knowingly. Like she knew she actually didn’t need to apologize for getting on the elevator from the floor she lived on, and off on the floor she was going to. Like she knew that her apology was just to make a point. A point that I really needed to hear.

I feel like I’m so used to being in a hurry, that when I’m not, I still go through the motions and emotions like I am. I run a yellow light. I pass the car moving too slowly. I get annoyed at the couple using coupons for every other item in their grocery cart. Because I think I have things to do, because I think I’m busy.

“It’s easy to confuse a lot of activity for a purposeful life.” – Bob Goff

This quote kicked me in the stomach when I read it. Isn’t it true? Don’t we equate activity with purpose? We assume that when we’re busy, it means we’re important. And we want to be important, so we find ways to be busy.

And I think making ourselves busy is so much easier than digging deep to find our purpose.

But I don’t want to live a life full of activity, but empty of purpose.

I think I do that by choosing to ruthlessly eliminate hurry from my life.  I need to figure out the difference between efficiency and hurry, and the difference between activity and purpose.

I’m working on it.

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