In Search of Unhurried Living

465e0c04434ee9f0fe6f21d01fde706e slow downI could easily describe myself as a recovering “hurry-aholic”.

I have a model Type A personality and a very full life that could give me plenty of excuses for living at a consistently frenetic pace.

Over the years, however, I have been learning to s…l…o…w… d…o…w…n.

It hasn’t been easy, and I still struggle at times, but all-in-all I am generally much more relaxed and at peace with my life and others. (Maybe one of the reasons you haven’t heard from me here in a long while.)

I have found that many others – maybe you? – also struggle with “hurry sickness”. So I thought I might revive my writing and share some of the things I have learned to counter our hurried life.

Some of what I plan to share comes from a “31 Days of Unhurried Living” campaign I directed last Spring. I will also add in new thoughts and content from books I will be reading. In the next few months, I am going to take three hours each Monday morning to read –  my new personal application of Unhurried Living.

So… if hurry has ever been an issue for you, or if your outer life is slow, but you would like to unhurry your heart and soul, please join with me! It could make a difference.

rest is a four letter word

bedroom I grew up with a hard-driving military father. We had jobs to do in the house, yard, garden, or apple orchard. Five children meant there was always plenty of work to do. My dad liked sports and outdoor activities, so we often woke up early to go hiking or skiing or play tennis. The only time we could lay around on the couch or watch TV was if we were sick – really sick.

It is no wonder that I continue to work hard today and have often felt guilty about rest. I’m not busy with yard work or gardening or housework these days, but I enjoy my job, and I like to stay active. I don’t particularly like to sleep, and I rarely watch any television… but I am learning how to rest.

Rest is not just sleep or no physical activity, although it certainly can involve that. Dictionaries say that rest includes relaxation, refreshment, and recovering strength. One definition includes a peace of mind or spirit and to be free from anxiety or disturbance. Another definition mentions a period or interval of repose, solitude, or tranquillity

No matter how much we love what we do, or how much work we think we have to do, rest is powerful… and necessary. I read a good post by Michael Hyatt this week about rest, and it helped me reflect on some good reasons for rest:

Rest builds physical strength. Athletes and trainers know that after a challenging workout, the body needs rest to recover, prevent injuries and increase endurance. Sleep, stretching, hydration and nutrition are all important. As I get older, I recognize this more and more.

Rest deepens relationships. Relaxing times with family and friends give me time for full engagement and quality interaction. Play, long conversations, stories, and laughter help me feel refreshed and provide me with healthy connections and community. When I am well rested, I have more to offer others.

Rest invigorates the mind. If I go too long without rest for my mind, my brain feels like scrambled eggs, and I struggle to sort out my thoughts and feelings. When I get away from the daily “to-do” list and anxieties to daydream and let my mind wander, I find that I can think clearly about the less urgent but very important issues like future plans, past reflections, and creativity.

Rest rejuvenates the soul. According to the Bible, even God rested! 🙂 To “let go” of my responsibilities for a bit reminds me of the truth that I am not all-important. Time to breathe deeply, pray, and listen calmly encourages me to find right perspective and contentment.

Rest is often used as a noun for a support, like an arm rest or a chin rest. This reminds me that I often need other people to help me rest. I am so grateful for those in my life who rest well, and they encourage me to rest also.

Well, now that I have this post finished, I am off to rest while watching a World Cup game!

Do you struggle with taking time to rest? Or are you someone who helps other people get away to relax? What are some of your favorite ways to rest well?

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You might also like to read: a rhythm of rest

a rhythm of rest

I just returned from a few sweet vacation days with my family… a rustic cabin by a high altitude river, trail runs under the pine trees, fly fishing, campfires, reading, game nights, puzzles… and too much delicious food.

No cell phones. No TV. No internet.

Just lots of inside jokes and side-splitting belly laughs… very relaxing. Very refreshing.

Our special time reminded me how important rest is in our lives… a time to pull back and think about nothing… or reflect and talk deeply… whichever is desired and needed at the time.  Sometimes I don’t even know what I need until I’ve been away from the busyness and distractions for a while.

A wise friend once shared a recipe for rest that – when I choose to apply it – helps me to ensure that I am resting… even as part of a very busy life. It might help you too…

REST daily

Even 30 quiet minutes a day to get away from the to-do list and everyday chores gives me perspective and energy for the day. I like to set aside time in the early a.m. to read from my Bible and/or a devotional book and pray for guidance and direction for the day. This gets me started on the right track. Others find time to exercise or add a nap to each day.

REFRESH weekly

This is one “Sabbath” day per week that is a change of pace or a break from the week’s schedule and routine. For many this is a church and worship day. For me, this day can include reading, a longer run, working in the garden, fun with friends, sports or anything that makes the day feel special and refreshes me for the next week. I try to stay away from my job, blog postings, or M.A. homework… a break from anything that feels like “work” to me.

REFLECT monthly

For years we have scheduled a whole day or a weekend to review goals, evaluate progress, and plan personal, family and/or ministry activities. This has been a great time to check on personal development plans (PDP), yearly resolutions, children’s character building, and any life-change challenges in process. I like to go away to a favorite coffee shop with my husband, and we have also enjoyed a park setting, a library, a nice hotel, or a retreat center. We take along calendars, podcasts, PDPs, and other resources for our time away.

RETREAT yearly 

This is the longed-for extended vacation, get-away, or escape! For me, it usually involves a complete geographical change and a total disconnect from usual responsibilities and everything virtual or social media related. I love when it includes time with my family, staying up late and sleeping in. These are the treasured times when traditions strengthen, memories multiply, and dreams take flight.

Life flows with a rhythm of activity and rest. I often have to battle prideful, self-made, artificial arguments that claim I am too busy to rest. I need to remind myself that I am not too important nor too indispensable to step aside for a while. I am healthier, more energized, more peaceful – and more pleasant to others – when I rest regularly as part of my life rhythm.

I’d love to learn from you… How do you rest?