The Holiness of Slow

“You’re so busy!” was a phrase I heard often. Each time someone said it, usually accompanied by a little nervous laughter, my smile would falter for a moment before I replied. I realized that I must have been wearing stress like a badge of honor.

When I walked into a room, I’d be huffing and puffing, rolling my eyes at the circus act that it took to bring three kids anywhere. It’s usually a sweaty mess because there are three bags to carry, three carseats to unbuckle, three jackets to zip kids into, six shoes to Velcro or tie, a double stroller to set up, and one mom juggling it all. But I was no different than any other mom of tiny children, and most of my friends seemed much calmer when arriving.

I’d hustle us from home to preschool to drive-thru to home, and from task to task to task once we were at home. Our days didn’t include more than part-time preschool, kindergarten, and church, but it was more than enough once we added in meals, snacks, laundry, vacuuming up dog hair, getting people dressed, packing lunches, work, and all the other daily items that cropped up.

I realized that if we continued to set a precedent of hustling and hurrying and rushing through our days, it wouldn’t set us up for success; instead, it would destroy us.

My to-do list was owning my heart. I was happy with the amount that I’d accomplish, yet I still felt like I hadn’t quite completed enough because of the tasks remaining. Often left on that list were my own well-being (like many women, I put myself last), cooking good meals (I wasn’t taking the time to make any kind of plan), and feeling like I hadn’t spent enough time truly being with my kids. That list of leftovers was giving me anxiety, overshadowing any peace from the items I’d actually checked off.

I was stretching like Mrs. Incredible — except real people aren’t made from elastic, and when stretched too thin, we snap. It had been months since I’d lived out my calmest scene — a steaming cup of cinnamon tea, my trusty old armchair, and a good book in my hands — because it felt self-indulgent. There was always more to accomplish; refreshing my heart wasn’t high on the to-do list.

I’d begun sacrificing the holiness of ordinary, everyday moments for hustled minutes, and I was not ok with that. I realized that slow is holy, that everything holy and ancient and worthwhile is slow.

Cooking real food.
Cleaning well.
Growing babies.
Planting a garden.
Changes of season.
Changes of heart.

All holy. All ancient. All worthwhile. All slow. Not a single one of them is something that can be hurried through.

This is no accident. God has not called us to rush and hurry and hustle through our days. He’s called us to be still, in so many words, in somany Scriptures:

Psalm 23 promises that He will lead us beside still waters and faithfully restore our souls.
Psalm 46:10 implores us to be still and to know that He alone is God.
Exodus 14:14 declares that if we are still, He will fight for us.
1 Samuel 12:16 bids us to stand still so we can see what He’s going to do.
Psalm 37:7 reminds us to be still and wait patiently for Him, even as others seem to be succeeding and moving ahead of us.

Since having these realizations, I’ve extracted myself from the hurried life I was living (and forcing onto my family). I’ve cleared space on the calendar, making room for friends and family and grace. When feasible, I’m writing fewer to-dos on my task list. I’m reconciling my desire for a badge of honor in busyness with what God says is honorable. That’s what I’m aiming for these days. I’m drinking more water and eating good food, bumping myself a notch higher on the list. We’re taking walks through the neighborhood as a family, reading more books at bedtime, and enjoying our time together. And I’m drinking tea in my armchair again.

This didn’t happen overnight; it’s taken a lot of time and intention. The siren song of a full calendar still sings, but its promises are empty and hollow. And now I know deep in my bones that with an emptier calendar or task list comes a fulfilled heart. At the end of the day, when I close my eyes and let my head hit the pillow, I no longer care about what’s left on my to-do list. All that’s left hanging over my head is love.

May we give God the space to do what He can only accomplish in our stillness. May we heed His call to be still. May we welcome rest and lean into the holiness of slow.

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