September 27, 2011

Spiritual Disciplines XI: Downshifting

Why The Hurry? Slow Down

I was at one time all about rushing around and putting more stuff in my schedule than I could possibly handle. This led to burnout and letting a lot of people down because I couldn’t possible meet the demands of the schedule I had made for myself. Sometimes too much is too much. I have through God’s grace and the love of my wife divested myself of this lunacy. Part of this “overscheduling” was an inflated sense of worth. I often bit off more than I could chew to make myself feel important. I felt if people always need me or wanted my help…I was an important person. What I found is that people didn’t necessarily need help…I found many people were lazy and turned to me to shovel off their responsibilities because they knew by giving the work to me that I would actually do it. These days are over because as I’ve entered middle age I have begun to accept the fact that I just cannot do everything I use to in my twenties and early thirties. So do I continue to hurry? Sometimes. Am I addicted to the former chaos? No.

Slowpokes In The Passing Lane

Being stuck behind people used to be intolerable for me. I wanted to scream and pull my hair out. I would start ranting about how people think the world revolves around them and they should get off the road. This has changed in most cases. I now realize for me to think like this is to assume the world revolved around me. Unless the car is creeping at 25 mph in a 55 mph zone I generally bide my time and wait the person out. These types of situations really have more to do with the circumstance. Obviously, if I am in an emergency situation I am flooring it and passing people like NASCAR at Daytona but if not I try and be patient and realize that some people like the elderly find it difficult to navigate and manage driving at high speeds since their reaction time is not as good as it used to be.

Let Children Be Children

Do we rush kids through stuff? Children do not have the knowledge base of an adult so it should be expected that they will often react slower. Being a jerk and being beligerant and rushing or pushing parents to "move themselves along" only shows a persons ignorance and failure to empathize with other people. This shows a failure to love others. Pateince with children is a unique situation because this is behavioral issue of young children and they need time to acclimate to the real world. This is a case where we need to be exceptionally patient. Children are not like adults in that they are often going through a learning process. As a parent, I now know for a fact that a parent and adults in general need to be longsuffering and work with the child to learn. Ephesians specifically spells this out for parents to their children. “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” Eph. 6:4. The word exasperate in this passage means to push them beyond their tolerance level so that they lash out or breakdown.

Conservation of Energy

At 42 I am now getting to an age where I need to slow down in an act of self-preservation. I cannot expend all my energy at once. My reserves of energy do not recharge as quickly as they once did. I am still as strong and my endurance is almost the same but my recovery time is much longer. Prolonged sustained stress makes me ill. Going slow in a learning process more than it is a choice. I pray that God gives me patience in my life to be able to this.


The morning is a tough one for me. Most would say that I abuse coffee/caffeine and most people would be right. I mostly have two speeds during the day: on and off. Anything else is a waste of time for me. Pushing too hard incurs too much stress and negatives in my life and going too slow gets nothing done. I may not overschedule my day like I use to but I still have quite a bit that needs to get done.

Deadlines & Bottom Lines: The Landmines of Life
Timelines & Finish Lines: Organization of Life

In the past I have allowed deadlines and bottom lines to dictate my life both in speed and quality. Unrealistic ones ruin lives and kill people young due to unnecessary stress. Timelines on the other hand I would consider a different way of keeping time. Where deadlines and bottom lines are transient or imaginary cut-off points, a timeline to me is more planned. Timelines show the progression of something to their completion. If things are systematically planned out in small chunks over a sustained period it is a more commonsensical approach to getting a task done. Deadlines are drop-dead dates that imply little or no planning beforehand which could have some scrabbling at the very last moment to get things done. Timelines seem more wise an practical in that they show a even-keel expenditure of time and effort.

Choice of Gears

I can choose to say no. When people dump things on me, just because they waited until the last minute to give me something to get done with a drop-dead date…I can still refuse. As mean as this seems, failure to plan and panic on someone else’s behalf does not necessarily equate to an emergency on my behalf. People need to organize and plan better. If folks know they are about to get to a hill or obstacle they need to plan accordingly and prepare to shift into low or high gear. People need to be adjustable and flexible. There are two old sayings that fit well here:

“Failure to plan on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part…” 


“Most people don't plan to fail, they fail to plan.” In the end, if you have work to do but still need to slow down…you need to have a plan to do so.

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