Life in the slower lane makes me feel more secure. I believe it is healthy for us to slow the pace in our lives physically and emotionally at regular intervals.
Why slow down? Who slows down? We’re all so busy, busy. Yet Jesus praises Mary for sitting at his feet and enjoying his company while Martha stresses about the cooking and cleaning. This indicates we need to stop and rest, as well as be quiet and listen. Rushing from one thing to another isn’t conducive to resting or listening or finding joy and peace. God encourages us in the Bible to take a day of rest each week to be properly rested and to spend in worship to keep the Sabbath holy. I think we also need moments of rest daily to avoid burnout.
I feel living in a rural area is a blessing for me because of the open, green spaces and wildlife. Getting out into nature is often recommended for people in need of getting away from it all. While I may enjoy visiting the city for cultural or sporting events or for shopping, I prefer country living because it is quieter and perhaps even a bit slower in some aspects. I may be biased since I grew up rural and have always lived in or near small towns. Even my university was in a smaller community. Smaller towns feel safer to me because they are what I know. I see familiar faces and the traffic isn’t as complicated. I’d rather get stuck behind a combine that takes up the entire two-lane highway than drive on the multi-lane interstate where everyone is in a hurry and everyone seems to know where he or she is going, having little patience for the country driver thrust into city driving conditions. If I slow down and appreciate what the farmers are doing for us, biding my time for a safe opportunity to pass, I can use the time waiting to be grateful for the food and clothes produced by their long hours of labor. Slowing down gives me an opportunity to give thanks.
Crickets chirping, frogs croaking, coyotes yipping or howling are night sounds I am accustomed to. Hearing the leaves rustle while gazing up into a black night sprinkled with sparkling stars or hearing the laundry snap on the line on a windy day can be soothing. Lawn chairs parked around a crackling camp fire in the summer mixed with laughter and conversation are other country night sounds. The lowing of a cow or bray of a donkey, the crow of a rooster, or the multitude of various birdsongs seeping through the window on an early morning speak to something deep inside. They remind me of the blessings bestowed upon me by God. In the rush of life, I need that. I must slow down to notice.
Spending quiet, uninterrupted time with God in such settings also brings more senses into the time of praying, meditating, reading/studying, or sitting at His feet. I get more out of my devotional time by slowing down than I do by rushing through because I have a busy day ahead and somehow I am already behind. If I can slow down and not worry about the clock, this time is sacred, and I am blessed with joy and peace. This slower time turns into a gift to myself and a praise to God.
Relationships are also strengthened when people aren’t feeling pressed. Listening for God and to each other gets neglected if we are distracted by the next thing rather than taking time to be in the present.
I really need to work on all of this slowing down business because even in my rural life I might get aggravated because I was supposed to be somewhere or to have something done by some allotted time according to my schedule or someone else’s plans. I might get anxious if someone gets sick and the plans are messed up rather than thinking that the slower schedule is really to my advantage. Oh, how much I need to learn. Yet, at least knowledge of the need is an important step forward.
Giving thanks in all circumstances and slowing down are actually gifts from God, reminders to appreciate our life here and now. All rushing has ever left me with is stress.
I hope you get some down time this week. What aspects of slowing down are you working on?