“Slowing” and Solitude

The Practice of “Slowing”

Ortberg says, “The most serious sign of hurry sickness is a diminished capacity to love. Love and hurry are fundamentally incompatible. Love always takes time and time is one thing hurried people don’t have.” Jesus was never in hurry and if we are to follow him, we must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from our lives. How do we do that? Ortberg suggests two things: “slowing” and solitude.

Slowing involves intentionally putting yourselves in situations where you have to wait:

  • Deliberately take the slow lane, and pray for the people you would normally be zooming past.
  • Get in that long line at the grocery store and let someone go ahead of you, especially if you’re feeling rushed. As a parent, you can add “color commentary” to the things you do on a daily basis so that kids can understand and clearly see the spiritual disciplines or principles put into practice. This talking out loud is simply connecting the dots for your kids, especially the younger ones.
  • Smile AND make eye contact with the cashier, your child, your spouse.
  • Force yourself to chew your food 15 times before you swallow.
  • Don’t wear a watch for one day.
  • Say “no” to an activity that you would normally say “yes” to. Have the courage to say “no” to good things to say “yes” to an unhurried heart.
  • Find ways to deliberately choose waiting, ways that make hurry impossible. As we practice them, we should tell God we are trusting him to enable us to accomplish all we need to get done each day.

At a classical education conference, I heard about a teacher who started each day with, “God will give us enough time to get done all that we need to accomplish today.” This is an act of faith and humility- submitting and surrendering our time to God and trusting that He will supply all of our needs according to his glorious riches.

The second thing Ortberg suggests is to seek times of solitude, both within each day and extended times of solitude. This is a spiritual discipline that takes intentionality. Time alone with God often feels so unproductive, and you will have to fight for it. No one will say, “Mom, it looks like you need some solitude, why don’t you take a moment/day for yourself.” You have to put it on your daily schedule and on your monthly schedule. I call my days alone “Dates with Jesus”. I actually write, “Date with Jesus” on my calendar because that is how I want it to feel- like I am taking out time to be alone with the One I love so that we can reconnect in a face-to-face way. Ortberg and Richard Foster give excellent guidelines for practicing both daily and extended solitude, but Jesus is our best example. Before and after intense times of ministry, Jesus took time to just go be with the Father. It wasn’t a time to catch up on work or friends or anything like that. It wasn’t even a time to recharge or think about himself. It was a time to be with His Father. Jesus did get renewed, but that wasn’t why he sought solitude. He sought solitude in order to relate to His Father. So, how can you, how can I, intentionally make a date with Jesus, the Lover of our souls? Sit down with your spouse and ask, “What day can I carve out some space to spend time alone with Jesus?” Write that day on your calendar, and protect that time like your life depends on it…