As a child, I have distinct memories of a specific thing I used to do with my eyes when things were moving quickly. For example, any time I was laying on the floor below a ceiling fan I would try to visually catch one of the blades and follow it around at least once if not a few times, based on how quickly it was spinning. I was also the kid who would look out the car window on the highway, trying to keep my eyes fixed on some point in the distance as we flew past. Of course, with each of these, I was more successful seeing something when we were moving slowly and far less successful when we were moving quickly.
This childhood visual has stayed with me as a metaphor in our oddly “efficiency-obsessed” world. Yes, I am very grateful for microwaves, my family may not eat otherwise. Of course, I am super pumped that I can deposit my checks through a mobile app, especially since I don’t have a bank in my small town. And sure, I am fully on board with the no-more-commercials version of watching television. It’s awesome.
And yet, it is difficult to have efficiency in certain areas of life without being tricked into the belief that it is always a good idea. Because it’s definitely not. To that point, here is my best and most enduring example. The Big Guy Himself.
Jesus Was Not in a Hurry Physically
I cannot find a single example in the Bible where Jesus was in a hurry. In fact, if anything, He was decidedly unhurried and present in whatever He was doing, not allowing even death to change His pace or focus (ex. John 11:1-7 & Mark 5:21-43). I know that He didn’t have the same information or transportation technology we do but, He could do things like make the blind see (John 9) heal someone’s withered hand (Mark 3:1-6) and, transfigure into light (Matt. 17:1-13). Something tells me if Jesus had thought it helpful to bippity-boppity-boo Himself along from place to place He would have done so. But, He didn’t. There’s a message there.
Jesus Was Not in a Hurry Emotionally
As a mental health professional, this one is even more powerful. As much as I love that Jesus didn’t physically hustle His sandals all over the Middle East, He also didn’t hustle Himself or others along emotionally. In a culture that is notoriously pain-avoidant, we often don’t have good models for how to sit with pain. Instead, we often try to get past, over, around, under, or numb it to make it go away.
In contrast, Jesus seemed to understand that some emotion needs to be endured, rather than avoided or hurried. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the Garden of Gethsemane. In His final hours before being arrested, Jesus was clearly distressed. And yet, rather than avoid or hurry through, the account suggests that he spent at least three hours engaged with His emotions, in prayer, asking for help, eventually arriving at a space of acceptance for what lay ahead.
This example, while a powerful exclamation point, servs as a continuation of the pattern He had shown in previous moments when He didn’t make a woman stop crying, instead letting her wipe His feet with her hair (Luke 7:44-47) and crying with His friends when their brother died (John 11:32-35). He cried and let people cry. That’s pretty brave stuff.
Slowing Down Helps Us Love Ourselves & Others Better
While I know our culture and technology are different, Jesus’ example of patience and presence is a really powerful message. And, if implemented, it can also be a really valuable ministry for us. If we are not in a hurry we are better able to notice what is going on inside of ourselves, better able to bring it to our consciousness and prayer life. And, for others, we are more likely to notice suffering and be present enough to stop and help or at least support them while they hurt.
This world moves really, really fast but, that doesn’t mean we have to. We need to move slow enough to make sure that our eyes and hearts can catch what’s around us, rather than having it pass by in a blur. No one ever leaves this life saying, “I’m so glad I got everything done so efficiently.” But, we might just end up with the privilege of saying, “I’m so glad I slowed down and got to really live and love the world around me.”
Blessings on your braking.