Slooow Down!

27 Apr

I love to read; especially books that give me something to think about or apply to my life. The book on my nightstand is The Life You’ve Always Wanted by John Ortberg. Although the title is enticing and I’m reading it for my small group at church, I was very skeptical of how I would be able to learn anything new since my life is going along pretty well right now. Boy was I wrong!

Having three children who are busy with school and extracurricular activities, a husband who commutes to work two hours a day, working full time, laundry, meals, house cleaning…I feel like I’m always in a hurry, desperately wanting to slow down but not always knowing how. So I watch my neighbor and try to learn something new from her as she engages with her children, husband and life in general.

Although my neighbor’s children are preschoolers, her style of parenting reflects the importance of enjoying daily life with her family and not over extending herself or her children. Her children play independently, are well behaved and loving to each other. She also spends time going places and doing things with her children in addition to spending time with her friends and husband independent of her children. Even though I am a far more seasoned mom than she is, I still want to emulate her style of parenting.

I have spent time decluttering my house, cutting back on activities for myself and my family, simplifying the things in my life. Still, I feel hurried and desperately wanted to be like my neighbor. Then I read Chapter 5 in my book and it all became clear.

John Ortberg describes how hurried people get behind a car at a stoplight based on which one they think will pull away fastest. Sound familiar? It did to me! Ortberg also goes on to say that hurrying will not buy more time. Have you ever been in a hurry to get out the door and inevitably your coffee spills, your keys drop, papers tumble all over your car, your kids are crying and your late anyway because you’ve had to clean up along the way? It sounds just how I was living. So, I decided to try one of the slow down techniques from the book. I drove in the slow lane and didn’t pass anyone the entire way to my destination! Do you know how hard that is? But, I arrived at my destination earlier than I thought, and I was much more calm when I arrived.

The next night, at dinner, I instituted the rule that everyone must chew their bites 15 times before they swallowed, another suggestion from the book. Our dinner lasted longer, we had a great conversation and we didn’t have to remind our kids to use their manners which is always a battle at the dinner table.

And so it went, trying something new each day that would slow me down for a good reason. What I’ve discovered is that my voice is softer, my conversations with my family are more valuable and I feel more peaceful. I’m starting to understand how my neighbor makes it all work and, this all came about because I started driving in the slow lane! Give it a try and see if you can start slowing down your life.

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