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Anxiety’s Remedy may be in your Pace, not your Pocket

As I approached the bridge along the bayou at a peaceful pace, my walk was interrupted by what sounded like olympic diving practice. Dozens of turtles basking in the fresh sunshine splashed into the quiet water. Sleepily gliding at first, a sudden shift whipped up frantic flippers and muddied waters. As if aroused by nature’s seasonal reminder, the bayou was teaming with competitive strife.

Studying their shenanigans, I surmised—this phenomenon happens not only in spring, but regularly in humans. And I’m not talking about mating rituals.

For many of us—frantic is our normal pace. For myself, I admit;

I work to cultivate Mary’s heart, but I’m bent towards Martha’s “hurry” pace.

Mary and Martha, sisters, were dear friends of Jesus. During one of His visits, Martha asked Jesus for help—Mary was sitting at Jesus’ feet as He taught instead of helping serve the meal. (Luke 10:38-42)

One particular phrase struck me: “But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing.” This phrase is only used once in the entire New Testament—here.

“Perispao” in Greek means, “to drag all around, draw away, to be driven about mentally, to be over-occupied, too busy about a thing.”

Anyone else? “Driven about mentally, too busy about a thing?!”

Jesus knew this wasn’t a first-century problem, but a life problem. Notice, He didn’t exhort Martha’s service, but her worry.

I, too, find myself worrying, distracting me from—well—living. And this often comes from a life of hurry. When I do find time to slow down, it’s brashly interrupted by a ding, buzz, call or thought, all too easily abducting our mind, capturing our heart and fracturing our soul.

Anxiety rises as we’re engulfed in 

  • Comparison
  • Social media
  • Too much on our plate
  • Our own negative thoughts

Why are we so easily distracted from the things bringing us peace, wholeness and perspective?

I don’t pretend to have the answers, but I recently discovered the profound importance of slow.  

In our society, hurry equals significance, accomplishment, and for many, is addictive.

  • Slow is lazy.
  • Slow is so last century.
  • Slow doesn’t achieve.

Or does it? Could it be slow breeds success and fulfillment, with the added bonus of joy and peace?

God has a few things to say about slow (so does science).

“They must realize that the Sabbath is the LORD’s gift to you…” Exodus 16:29a

 Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29

Did you catch anything new? I sure did.

The Sabbath is a gift, not a “got-to.” Jesus offers rest, not rush.

One day a week, we GET to slow down—go on a family outing, read a book, take a nap, relish a family meal, enjoy a date, drink great wine with friends, behold beautiful things—unplug from all the stress-inducing devices, tasks and people, and simply be.

Yet I considered Sabbath a burden somehow. But God is the God of slow, ruthlessly resisting hurry. We see it in His timeline repeatedly. He didn’t rush the Israelites through the wilderness or hurry Jesus on the scene, and I’m sure—like me—He hasn’t rushed answers to your every prayer. 

Slow is where rest replenishes, character is cultivated and freedom is found.

God created life to be fruitful, joyful and restful. He desires the art of slow for you.

Divine purpose and beauty are in His slow. 

I’m learning with you. Let’s do this together! How?

To quote a fantastic book— we embrace the ruthless elimination of hurry from our lives. If we want to slow the chaos, combat anxiety, and reduce stress, we will:

  • go against the grain of culture
  • look different to the rest of the world
  • experience more joy, peace and fulfillment than imagined

What might working the art of slow into your life look like? Perhaps beginning your journey towards a more peaceful, less productive Sabbath. You’ll find the less productive it is, the more productive you’ll be the other 6 days of the week!

Whatever your step towards God’s beautifully designed pace of slow, move towards Him, dear one! Like the turtles, we can climb out of the muddied, chaotic waters of hurry and bask in the sunshine of slow.

Join me next week for more practical tips on tipping the scales of anxiety!

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