Pastor John Ortberg was serving a large congregation in Chicago. He mentored with a friend and asked for some spiritual direction as he was dealing with the pace of life in his current ministry. His friend slowly replied, “Ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.” John Ortberg thanked him, told him he had written that down and said, “What else?” After a long pause, his friend responded, “There is nothing else. Ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.” In our society today…this is a tall order. Keep reading.
Last Sunday in our parenting workshop at St. Paul’s, Kelsey Baker, our wise AEA School Psychologist, said, “I feel like we live in a culture where we idolize busyness.” Another wise teacher, Rachel Bienemann, responded, “It’s popular to be busy!” When did this become a status symbol? Where did the lazy days reflected by icons like, Andy Griffith shift to chaotic and bursting schedules? What have we missed in ruthlessly pursuing busy, thinking it makes us look important or competent or highly involved in family life?
Two events this week brought it home to me. On Monday, a little girl was brought to my office because she spit in the face of her classmate. She was sobbing so hard that she could hardly talk. I began by sternly explaining that spitting at someone is wrong. Through vehement sobs she denied spitting at her classmate. So, I asked her to explain further what had happened. This little one, this child of God, chokingly explained how the teacher was going to place a special item on the table that could be the most quiet. A boy at her table continued to talk and so she “shushed” him. Slowly, I asked if she was angry at him or if he was angry at her. She said, “No.” I brought the boy to my office and we reenacted the scenario. He described the event in the same way and added, “She went SHHHHHHHH! and it got some drops on my face.” I asked incredulously, “Were you mad at each other?” Both replied, “No!” Ah…the sweetness of truth. The sweetness of insight and understanding. The sweetness of pause! Pause to listen…to give time to hear a voice, a story. “We immediately hugged, found peace and justice, and restored the spirit of a little girl who had only intended to help her classmates do their best. What if!!! What if I had neglected to take the time to hear her story? What if I had “busily” rushed past it, determined to assume? What if I had dampened her spirit because I was too busy to listen? I will not forget that moment and pray that I have the wisdom to be watchful for future moments of grace and understanding.
The other event of this week came as I was rushing out of my office to bid farewell to the students as they left school for the day. A mom met me at my door and said, “Do you have a minute?” I stepped back inside and said, “Sure.” She replied, “I need a hug.” Oh, a hug!! A simple gift that I can give and she is fulfilled? In that moment I was reminded that the gift of time, the snippet of a minute, can make another feel so valued or empowered to go on. Is it not the purpose of our existence to connect, to hug, to listen, to take time? Busyness tends to rob time. Busyness robs us of the freedom to give time.
I guess my question is, do you want to chase time, or would you rather give time? It’s up to us. We become resentful when we feel robbed of our time, but we feel fulfilled when we are able to give our time. Hmm…looks like a choice. To my knowledge, Jesus was always giving his time. Remember on the boat when he wanted to sleep? His disciples woke him in their fear. He responded with out reproach. Remember the story when he was so tired but there were 4,000 waiting to hear him talk to them? So he did. Giving time always results in goodness in some way. Often in ways we never fully know. That is the miracle of ruthlessly eliminating hurry from our lives. God takes those extra minutes and graciously impacts love and meaning into the lives of others. All we have to do is pause and give.