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Abide: Intentionally slow down

Well, y’all, we’ve made it to the third week of ABIDE. So far we’ve looked at two steps for learning what it is to abide in Christ: (1) Acknowledge him first and (2) Bring your burdens to Him. We’ve covered how important it is to commit to daily time in the Word and three truths we need in order to lay our burdens down with the Lord.

Today’s step is going to be hard for all us busy people. In fact, you are probably going to think I’m crazy … but keep reading. Remember, I’ve got the crazy calendar too. I’m definitely writing this post from an “I’m right here with you” perspective with a huge helping of “I struggle with this myself.”

What is this next important step in learning to abide?

Intentionally slow down.

Yes, I know. You’re thinking, “She’s lost her mind. Her tagline is offering BUSY WOMEN permission to live well. BUSY women don’t have time to slow down.” Oh friend, believe me, I feel every ounce of the irony. But here’s what I know: being intentional about slowing down is often the difference between being effective and being exhausted in the midst of our chaos.

Last week, we looked at Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Read over that last phrase, a promise from Jesus: if we come to Him with all our commitments and concerns, He WILL give us rest. This is what I’ve learned: when I am committed to daily time in the Word and when I am consistent in prayer and leaving my burdens with Him, the rest comes much easier.

Rest is not an option for us. We need it physically, and we need it spiritually. But where can we find those pockets of time for stillness and rest? For each of us and in every season, the answers are different. But here are a few ways I’ve learned to find space in the middle of a crazy schedule.

  1. In the morning before everyone gets up. Let me be honest – this used to be my favorite, but now I like sleep.
  2. In the evening when everyone goes to bed. This one doesn’t work for me either. Basically I like to get up about 7 a.m. and go to bed by 10 p.m. The people in my house all have a significantly smaller sleep requirement.
  3. The car line. Seriously, all through middle school this was the part of my day when I didn’t place any expectation on myself. I had about 15 minutes, and I just gave myself permission to accomplish nothing during that time.
  4. Saturday mornings. For several years when Casiday was little, Scott encouraged me to take a couple of hours to either sleep in if I needed it or just get out of the house and relax.
  5. Rest time for the kiddos. If your kids are younger and still take naps, don’t do laundry – just be still. At least for part of the time. Make yourself a cup of tea or coffee and be still.
  6. No one in/No one out days. Y’all, this is one of my favorite things. Periodically we schedule a no one in/no one out day. It’s just the three of us at home. We watch movies, take naps, snack all day … but mostly we just stay put. In homes where there is lot of going and doing, this can be the perfect way to slow down. Yes, your kids might balk at it, but stand firm. In the end, they’ll be glad.
  7. Turn off the devices. One of the ways I’m carving out time for intentional slowing this year is turning off all my devices – phone, iPad and computer – for at least 30 minutes every day. During that time I’ll be reading or coloring or maybe even taking a nap. But my goal is to do things that could have been done 100 years ago.
  8. Bake bread. I know, you’re thinking, “What in the world is this girl talking about?” But baking bread requires us to slow down. All the kneading and rising and punching down provides a rhythm for me of a short time of doing then a lot of time waiting. And some days that is exactly what I need.
  9. Take a bath. Both my girl and I are big fans of a nice hot bath. We like to add a little lavender oil and some Epsom salts. She listens to music, and I like to read a good novel. I’ve noticed Casiday is especially anxious to get a bath when her schedule is really crazy. I think that means she’s learning the value of slowing down, even in the chaos.
  10. Take ten deep breaths. Let’s be honest: there are days (weeks?) when the cracks and crevices of our schedules are all full, and we’re not really sure when we are going to collapse into bed, much less actually have time to slow down. It’s in those times when I just simply take deep breaths. I aim for ten, but sometimes I can only manage two or three. Breathing in deeply and slowly exhaling can be a great way to slow our minds.

This Week’s Challenge: Choose one of the ideas above and put it into practice. Be gracious with yourself about this. The point isn’t to achieve some mystical Zen state but rather to get into a habit of practicing stillness regularly.