In my Advent devotional it had this phrase: “refuse the wrong of rushing.” I was tempted to write it on my arm so I would be reminded all day of this, that is how much I needed to hear that. On any day, but particularly a full work day, it feels practically impossible to not rush from thing to thing. It feels challenging not to speed through a conversation or already mentally be at the next thing. It came back to me many times throughout the day: refuse to rush. Refuse to let the anxiety or stress or over-scheduling dominate your mind and soul. Don’t forget to breath.
This advent season I am trying to practice this; I am trying to immerse myself in stillness. I am waking up at the same time each morning and doing my Advent devotional and writing. I am burning the Advent candles and just sitting, in awe of the light and the mess. I’m doing yoga…I know. I have all kinds of feelings about people who get obsessed with yoga — but I am paying attention to my body and my breath and trying to live in a centered, non-rushed way.
I am trying to embrace slowness in a season that demands a hectic heart. I am hoping to watch less TV and drink more tea and read more books and let my mind dwell on stress much less. I am actively practicing forgiveness and at the same time trusting my intuition about people. I do not want to numb and withdraw, but instead rest and engage. I am hopeful for my favorite Advent season yet.
Honestly though, I’ll tell you – so far in my first week of these practices, I have slept worse than the past months of my life and my mind is running wild. I subconsciously attempted to accomplish several work tasks in my sleep last night, I was thinking so hard about them. There is resistance, and I don’t want anyone to think that my life has been magical and Hallmark-ish in the past week. It is more natural for us to gravitate towards stress and anxiety than rest and peace. That is why we call it a practice.
Because I don’t want my life to pass me by or to miss moments of beauty or take for granted sacred spaces with wonderful, important people. I want to see all of it. I want to hold it all and not rush away from it. I don’t want to miss things because I’m already on to the next. So it is worth the fight.
God meets us in those spaces, where we have avoided the wrong of rushing. He is here. He is not running ahead of us, He is right here. God with us. In these very moments, in this beautiful day. This is the gospel truth of the Christmas story: He came to be with us. In our slow, simple, child in a manger kind of lives.
So whether it is sitting longer and playing a game with your child, or turning off the noise and turning to something more life-giving instead, or lingering over a long meal with a friend, I hope you choose to refuse the rush. I hope you choose slowness. I hope together we can unlearn the habits of stress and racing and instead embrace stillness and connection. There is so much more to this life. There is such depth to experience. We won’t find it by running through life.