Hurried Life or Jesus Life
My husband and I are trying to start a family. While waiting for the blessing of a child, I observe a lot of families. This time of year, this is what I see.
THE HURRIED LIFE
School is starting. For many, it means more. More to do, more to schedule, more to manage. So we start our days earlier and end them later. It means fast food. It means hurry. Which leads to anxiety. More caffeine. More adrenaline. All of which lessen the quality of sleep that you do get, only to begin the next day more tired and you do it all over again. Oh, the frenzy of life.
But does it have to be this way?
Jesus says in Matthew 11: 28-30, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Why does life not look like this for so many people? There seems to be a disconnect. So I set off to explore the matter and read The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer, and Making Room for Life by Randy Frazee. I’d like to share a little about what I’ve learned from these books. Warning, this blog is longer than most.
If you’re tired, burnt out, weary, and burdened, read on!
If you’re stressed, depressed, and anxiety prone, read on!
If you like your frenzied life, then stop reading because you aren’t ready for this.
It is easy to keep doing what we’ve been doing. After all, everyone else is doing it. It’s normal life stuff. Work, school, sports, activities, appointments, work, errands, church, volunteering. They are all good things. None of it is inherently wrong. Some are required, like work and school. Some are things we are doing to serve God. So, what’s the big deal?
Comer says in his book The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry, “If the results you are getting are lousy—anxiety at a simmer, mild depression, high levels of stress, chronic emotional burnout, little to no sense of the presence of God, an inability to focus your mind on the things that make for life, etc.—then the odds are very good that something about the system that is your life is off kilter. The way you’ve organized your morning (or evening) routine, your schedule, your budget, your relationship to your phone; how you manage your resources of time, money, and attention etc.–something is out of whack.” (Comer, p. 85)
“Hurry is the root problem underneath so many of the symptoms of toxicity in our world.” (Comer, p. 19). We hurry because we are busy. When we are busy, we simply cannot live emotionally and spiritually health lives. “Corrie Ten Boom once said that if the devil can’t make you sin, he’ll make you busy. There’s truth in that. Both sin and busyness have the exact same effect–they cut off your connection to God, to other people, and even to your own soul. The famous psychologist Carl Jung had this little saying: Hurry is not of the devil; hurry is the devil.” (Comer, p. 20).
A yoke that is easy and a burden that is light? If it doesn’t sound like real life, that is not reason to dismiss the verse and think it’s impossible, but rather a call for a serious reconsideration of how we run our lives today. Comer says, “Your life is the by-product of your lifestyle. By life I mean your experience of the human condition, and by lifestyle I mean the rhythms and routines that make up your day-to-day existence.” (Comer, p. 85) In other words, if your tired, burnout out, weary, and burdened, it’s because of the way you have organized (or not organized) your day-to-day life.
In short, you’re too busy and hurried.
THE SOLUTION: WHAT IT IS
You can structure your lifestyle, so that your life reflects what Jesus is talking about in Matthew.
But what does this even mean? Life isn’t easy. Life has never been easy. Nor will it be. Jesus never says “Follow me, and nothing bad or hard will happen, and your life will be easy.” No, in fact, it’s quite opposite.
Jesus doesn’t offer an easy life. He offers an easy yoke. “He offers his apprentices a whole new way to bear the weight of our humanity: with ease. At his side. Like two oxen in a field, tied shoulder to shoulder. With Jesus doing all the heavy lifting. At his pace. Slow, unhurried, present to the moment, full of love and joy and peace.” (Comer, p. 88)
When we slow down, we are able to be more aware of God’s presence in our day-to-day lives, and his presence provides peace and joy. We have room to pause and hear Jesus speak to us and direct us and lead us. We process our pain and emotions in a healthy way. We have time and bandwidth to process the hard stuff and place it in His hands so he bears the weight of the difficulties of life. Time spent in his presence provides peace, joy, and rest for our souls.
We simply cannot live the life Jesus calls us to when we are going too fast.
We must slow down.
THE SOLUTION: HOW DO WE DO IT
You are really not in as much demand as you think. If you take a break, everything will be ok. If you slow down, the sky is not going to fall. Do you know how much demand Jesus had on him? Read the gospels if you’ve forgotten. People were constantly looking for him and demanding his attention. And he did do a lot for people. We are not made to do nothing. We are made to work. But notice that the more Jesus was in demand, the more he got away for rest. If he needed it, we do, too.
A slower life is not a lazy, boring life. It’s a balanced life. It’s about living how Jesus called, which does include work, but does not negate rest. We must learn how to get our lives back in balance.
Randy Frazee in Making Room for Life is chock full of excellent solutions and suggestions, but one major one I will talk about here is The Hebrew Day Planner.
The Hebrew Day Planner is an excellent way to structure your life so that it is balanced between work, community, and rest—the way we were made to live.
In short, it breaks a 24-hour day into 12 hours of work, 4 hours of community, and 8 hours of rest. Plus Sabbath.
Here is an idea of what this might look like:
6AM-6PM WORK. This is your job, your housework, your errands, your to-do’s, driving your kids to and fro, your exercise. It all stops at 6PM.
6PM-10PM COMMUNITY. Dinner together as a family, not drive-through but sit-down. The art of dinner and convivium has disappeared for many. We must re-learn how to do this and pass it on to our children. Two hours may be for dinner. This includes setting the table, eating slowly, and discussing your day with your family. Sometimes this means having friends or your neighbors over for dinner. This is real community, which we are made for.
Then the last couple hours can be for winding down and relaxing. This might be working on a favorite hobby, or reading, or maybe it’s your whole family gathering together to watch your favorite show.
This four-hour community block allows for your body to release from the days work, slow down, and let your body’s natural melatonin begin to work and get you ready for a solid night’s sleep. (When we are in a hurry and work through this time, it forces our body to rely on adrenaline to keep going, which messes up the melatonin, leading to sleep issues.)
This is the structure for 6 days. Then on the 7th day, rest. Sabbath is a precious gift from God. You get one day a week to treat like a little mini-vacation. The command is not just one more rule to follow, it’s an invitation to a richer way of life that our bodies are built to need. It fuels us for the other 6 days. It is one of the biggest disciplines against burn out.
THE SOLUTION: IT’S BIGGEST THREAT
These days, so many of our kids’ activities cut into these evening hours, and weekends, making this feel near impossible. It didn’t used to be this way, so this is a new challenge, and a big one at that! So if you have kids in a bunch of activities and feel stuck, please read Frazee’s book as he addresses this and offers ideas to help you re-arrange your life to fit the Hebrew Day Planner. He has solutions that are modest, substantial, and radical, depending on what you want to do. Some of you like to dive all in (radical); others of you might want to get your feet wet first by implementing one of his modest changes first.
We put our kids in activities because we think it is good for them to learn things like teamwork. Parents are well intentioned, but Frazee warns, “Dragging our children away from home in the late afternoon and evening hours to transport them to adult-driven, highly structured, age-graded activities has these negative effects” (Frazee, p 96), and he proceeds to list the “seven deadly sins” of this lifestyle:
Lost creativity: they do not have the unstructured, free time for creative play.
Lost leadership skills: when kids can play on their own without adults structuring their time and rules, they learn to make up their own games, make up the rules, referee their rules, and exercise leadership in this way.
Lost mentoring: when kids are playing, the older learn to mentor the younger.
Lost conflict management skills: In adult-structured activities, adults intervene when there is any sort of conflict. When kids play independently, they learn to manage conflict themselves.
Lost health: if we are stressed and tired from over-scheduled days, so are our kids.
Lost finances: sports and activities cost a lot of money. So many times, both parents end up working more in order to fund this lifestyle, which is further hurting the ability for The Hebrew Day Planner to be implemented.
Lost family meals: Frazee says, “In my decade-long study of human community, I’ve discovered that one of the very best things you can do for a child is to have consistent dinners as a family at dusk, with food that is balanced and whole and conversation that is free and slow.”
Frazee is not saying don’t do any kid’s activities. My takeaway and what I plan to do when I have kids is to pause and consider the costs and benefits, and prayerfully consider what to say yes to and what to say no to (which requires us to slow down to take time to weigh it out). We don’t have to do it all, friends. I think we burden ourselves with more than Jesus ever meant for us to carry.
Much, if not all, of this goes against the modern day, current culture, lifestyle in America. I don’t expect this to be easy to implement and maintain. As I work to implement it, I do expect to be misunderstood and maybe even ridiculed. But as Pastor Brian says, it is not about perfection, but about direction.
THE JESUS LIFE
Just imagine…. what would happen if we all slowed down? What would happen if we all implemented The Hebrew Day Planner to the best of our ability?
What would happen if we moved through our day slow enough to:
- Be aware of God’s presence and hear him speak.
- Have time to identify and process our emotions from the hard stuff life throws at us, placing it in His hands, trusting Him with it, letting Him pull the weight (an intentional, daily discipline that one cannot achieve in a hurry).
- Take a moment to compliment our spouse, or leave a love note, and thank them for what they do for the family.
- Teach our kids something without being rushed.
- Notice our neighbor needing help and offer assistance.
- Have a spontaneous conversation with someone at the grocery store.
- Not text back until we are done driving.
- Have family dinner consistently where kids know they can count on this quality time, and sometimes include friends and neighbors.
- Pray more, and scroll on our phones less.
- Get more quality sleep.
- Enrich the community relationships that feed our soul.
I think we’d all have more rest, more peace, more joy.
A soul that is filled, not drained.
Better health for us, better health for our kids.
Physical health, spiritual health, emotional health, relational health, mental health.
A yoke that is easy. And a burden that is light.
If you’re looking for more help on this topic, I recommend reading both of these books, as they offer a plethora of specific ideas and disciplines to help you learn how to live the unhurried, Jesus life.
Comer, John Mark. The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry. WaterBrook, 2019.
Frazee, Randy. Making Room for Life: Trading Chaotic Lifestyles for Connected Relationships. Zondervan, 2003.
Preach it,Kaley! Love those authors and how well you’ve incorporated them into “edible nuggets” we need reminded of ! We all need to stop and evaluate our lives - then determine to say NO to busy and hurry !!
Your future kids will thank you for not worshipping sports as THE best thing for them ! I loved this blog! Thanks for writing it !!
Thank you! Appreciate your support.
This really hit home. Love it!