After just over a year back in a fast-paced modern city, I am realizing that I prefer a slow life. The ambling pace of a rural South African village was at times a bit too slow, but I settled well into that pace and found that there was always enough time in every day to accomplish all that I wanted to accomplish and more time to read and write, jog, and generally enjoy life with the people around me—plenty of time to watch countless pirated movies and TV shows, as well.
As Johannesburg begins the race towards Christmas, I’ve found the last few weeks tremendously full. Balancing my ever-increasing task list at work, out with friends at night and on weekends, keeping up with emails home and scheduling Skype calls—all of these things contribute to the dark circles under my eyes which some days I am sure must be drawn on with permanent marker.
And with anxiety my natural inclination, not worrying about tomorrow and living in today causes almost as much angst as the actual things worth worrying about. I’ve taken to wearing a hair band around my wrist and giving it a small snap when I find myself caught up in the “what ifs”—a trick I picked up in Kim Gaines Eckert’s, Stronger Than You Think. The point is not self-flagellation, but rather using it as a reminder to bring you back to the present and to remind yourself of what is in your control and what is not.
The thing about slow is that I think at least for myself, God made me to live slow. He made me with natural inclinations to enjoy the beauty and the people around me. He made me for building—to build strategies and systems that empower others. And the thing about building is that it is a slow process that takes time if you want to ensure the integrity of the structure.
But slowing down also allows me to fall more easily in step with the Lord’s tread. To pause where He pauses, and to notice what He notices. To hurry up when He hurries, and to stop and love the person He hurried to. To break where He breaks, and to rest where He rests. To be evermore in tune with Him and like the Son whom He loves.
I find it hard to be in tune with God when I’m racing forward. Fast keeps me trapped in task lists and what ifs, and I miss a lot of the world around me. Especially living in a city built on gold and ever-pursuing gold, slow has to be intentional. Especially in a city with so much poverty, so much hurt, and so many people living on the edge, more slow is what is needed.
I don’t know how to do it, but I want to be more intentional about living slowly. I think when I learn to live slowly, I will learn even more of what it means to live simply. And hopefully I will learn more of what it means to love radically.