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How to Slow Down When Life Speeds Up

Josie McCarthy
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November 29, 2021

The Christmas Season can be one characterized by frantic scurrying and endless logistics. Spiritual rhythms can serve as an antidote to losing track of yourself, others, and God in the swirl of chaos.

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One of my favorite moments of the Christmas season is Christmas Eve night.

The tree is decorated, with the lights in one big clump on the lower right hand side of the tree (Griffin’s favorite contribution to decorating 😂). The smell of Mantra, our favorite Indian takeout, wafts through the air. The presents are bought and wrapped, all our Christmas cards have been sent, and our family is together.

This is the moment when I finally begin to slow down my pace of life.

Up until this point, it’s typically absolute chaos.

Every year I say that I’m going to do it differently. Next year I won’t wait until Christmas Eve to slow down. But as the next Christmas season rolls around, I find myself in the same predicament--too much to do with too little time.

You see, I tend to think it’s all or nothing. If I can’t have a slow, reverent, contemplative season, then I might as well just accept where I’m at in life and give into the chaos.

But what if there was a way to slow down when life speeds up?

Creating space to slow down with God

This is where spiritual rhythms that invite us to slow down, breath deeply, and center ourselves on the presence of Jesus proves invaluable. Without space to reflect on Jesus’ activity in my life and contemplate how God is inviting me to join his work in the world, I tend to zip through daily life with spiritual blinders over my eyes.

Leighton Ford says the purpose of these kinds of rhythms is to learn how to “look at life in the presence of God.” We are learning to look at our lives knowing that God is present, to see all of life through the eyes of Christ.

For me these rhythms are composed of a few things. The first is waking up 30 minutes before the kids and getting some quiet, uninterrupted time to sit in the presence of God. I typically use the Crosspoint prayer guide to help keep me on track and give me a template to follow.

The second is driving to work with no noise. My commute is only about 7 minutes, but this drive in silence, surrendering my day to God, is good for my soul.

The third is worship music. Oftentimes Griffin will remind me of this one by shouting, “So good to me!”

These are lyrics to his favorite worship song. Connecting to God through music is powerful. Not only can I do this on the fly while prepping a meal or getting the kids out the door, but the songs have a way of sticking with me throughout my day.

Three simple rhythms that help me center my life on Christ. However, I notice that when I am in a season of chaos, these rhythms can easily get pushed by the wayside.

John Mark Comer in his book The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry says that “when you get over busy, the things that are truly life giving for your soul are the first thing to go rather than your first go to.”

This is so true for me. And yet creating this space takes emotional energy and self-discipline. So I instinctively slip out of these rhythms when I’m over tired or distracted by all that has to be done.

But if I can overcome these urges to sleep in just a little later or use my commute to go over my to-do list once more, these important rhythms bring me to the feet of Jesus when I need Him most.

How this awareness spills over into life

The more I create this kind of space, the more it spills over into other spaces. In other words, pausing to notice God’s presence is not an activity I do in addition to all the other activities in life, but becomes a way of living and being. It becomes the primary lens through which I view the world and inhabit life.

I can go shopping for example, and float through completely absorbed in my own agenda.

Or I can go shopping and notice the older woman in front of me who is in distress because she forgot her checkbook. I can pay attention to where God is stirring in my heart to be generous and pick up her tab.

I can notice the disengaged disposition of the teenager at the check out and see if there is an opening to make a relational connection.

Sometimes I like to think of it as holding up a magnifying glass and inviting the Spirit of God to illuminate the ordinary situations I find myself in. To notice where he is already at work so I can join him in it.

The very nature of seeing the world through the eyes of Christ forces me to slow down.

The very nature of seeing the world through the eyes of Christ forces me to slow down. I can’t fly through life and expect to catch these promptings of the Holy Spirit. I must be willing to catch my breath long enough to see what’s right in front of me.

The Snowball Effect

These two then have a snowball effect. The more I create space for spiritual rhythms, the more I notice God’s activity in my everyday life. And the more I notice God’s activity in my everyday life, the more I want to create space to unpack what I’m noticing.

I’ll never forget the instant desire our first born, Tighe, had for sugar! It was the classic 1st birthday introduction to cake and frosting. Tighe sat proudly in his high chair as friends and family sang happy birthday to him.

I set the mini homemade monkey themed cake before him. At first he just played in the frosting squishing it between his fingers, before long the frosting was all over his face. Then came the moment we’d all been waiting for. As he tasted a fist full of frosting his expression went from one of intrigue to happiness to urgent desire to consume as much as possible!

And so it is when I find these spiritual rhythms; it leaves me wanting more. The pace and opportunities that the Lord gives me in the midst of them sparks a deeper desire.

A desire to hunger and thirst after Him. A desire to sit in His presence and be wrapped in His love. A desire to find regular rhythms for the quiet and stillness that only He can give.

Questions for Reflection:

  1. What are my biggest barriers to spending time with Jesus? Is it lack of desire? Time?
  2. How can I slow my pace today to see the world through the eyes of Christ?
  3. What daily or weekly rhythms can I put in place to help me find my center?
  4. Consider using our Advent Guide as away to get started and help structure your time. You can sign up to receive it through our Daily Prayer Guide.
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