SPIRITUAL SUMMER SCHOOL – FIVE DAY SERIES – SLOWING DOWN TO BE WITH GOD
Setting the Stage for Slowing Down to be with God
How do we set the stage for this series about Slowing Down to be with God?
This is a special week here on Health Spirituality. While I regularly post only twice a week on a variety of topics, this week I am presenting Spiritual Summer School with the theme of Slowing Down to be with God and am posting Monday through Friday – yes five times. In addition to the words here, I am trying the new medium of live streaming – want to see and hear me in person? (well maybe, don’t answer that, LOL). Monday through Friday this week I hope to be live on my Facebook author page around 1:30 eastern, talking about this week’s topic and hopefully having a conversation with some of you.
Each day here on the blog and on Facebook live, we will explore different aspects of Slowing Down to be with God. Today is setting the stage with points to ponder about this topic. Then as the week unfolds, we will unpack the word SLOW:
S – Tuesday– Six Strategies for Slowing Down to be with God
L – Wednesday – Listening to our Language and the Language of God
O – Thursday – Outstanding Options for Slowing Down to be with God
W – Friday – Wait and Worth
My prayer is you enjoy and learn in this special series. Let’s get started:
Setting the Stage for Slowing Down to be with God
One of the most frequent comments I hear with my spiritual direction clients, on Facebook and other mediums and in my annual readers’ survey is the difficulty of connecting with God in our daily lives. We get so busy, distracted, worried, focused on our getting things done, the urgent instead of the important. Whew!
I have the intention of listening to God throughout my day. Of seeing his touch. Hearing his voice. On some days I start out well with quiet time with Him. Reading the scriptures. Centering Prayer. Then before you know it it’s bedtime and I have hardly prayed, thanked or paused to be with God in between the getting up in the morning and the going to bed at night.
“Spending time with God is the key to our strength and success in all areas of life. Be sure that you never try to work God into your schedule, but always work your schedule around Him.”
I have been thinking about the process of slowing down to be with God and want to share 5 points for you to ponder. Perhaps something here will resonate with your heart and give you something to think about:
- Our addiction to busyness and preoccupation
- Skimming our Spirituality
- Who controls our schedule?
- Important vs urgent
- The Value of Pacing.
Addicted to Busyness instead of Slowing Down to be with God
I am a doer. On the strength assessments, I score high on achieving. On the Enneagram I am a “3”, known of getting things done and thriving in accomplishing. Give me a goal – or even better, let me create some goals (can’t just have one goal you know) and I am off to work.
In our society today we wear the badge of busyness as something to be proud about. Too often we base our value, our worthiness on being busy.
How are you?
Busy as usual.
That’s great. So am I.
Why are we living our lives this crazy chaotic way?
Is it our FOMO? Fear of missing out?
Is it a distaste for boredom?
I love the sense of accomplishment of checking off my to-do list, but am also overwhelmed by the fact that the list is never ending. I complete one item and two more bubble up. I switch so quickly from one item to another I rarely take the time to enjoy what I have finished. Just recently I realized that I will probably die with an incomplete to-do list in my hand or at least in my heart.
Not sure that is what I want to remember my life as or to be remembered for living in this manner as my legacy.
We are obsessed and preoccupied with speed and productivity. Somedays I feel like a hamster on the wheel of life.
When we were in Germany month, our bus frequently traveled on their highway system known as the autobahn. Often there were three or four lanes. Laws regulate the speed of trucks and busses but cars have no speed limits, especially in the outside lane. They sped by us like a blur, racing to their destinations. I could only guess they were traveling at least 80- 100 miles per hour.
“There is more to life than just increasing its speed.”
So with this framework in mind, how do you feel about busyness? Is it something you can control, modify? Does it control you? How obsessed are you with productivity and speed? Does FOMO drive this need in you?
Skimming our Spirituality.
One of the main techniques in speeding up is the practice of skimming.
Skimming is when we seek only the highlights, the general points. Find what is important and move on. Forget the details.
A life of hurry is usually pretty superficial. We live, or should I say merely survive, on the surface. We skim.
All the experts tell me as a writer of a blog to put in subheadings (which I do) to help the reader skim my writing. They see the headlines, not the specifics. As a journalist I know to put the most important information in the first paragraph of an article because the majority of people won’t read the details in the whole piece.
Are we skimming our spirituality too? Are we staying on the surface with God instead of diving deep?
As I skim blogs, the newspaper, channels on the TV, I wonder if I skim other areas of my life? Skimming has bled over into my time with God, my reading of the scriptures, my prayers, my time in church. Worship has become soundbites and entertainment instead of nurturing deep roots of faith.
Prayer list? – check
Reading? – read two verses, who has time for more?
Reading for spiritual growth? – maybe later
Sitting with God, listening? – ok some mornings, but throughout the day? Yeah, right. Ok send up a quick prayer here and there. Maybe a quick pause to smile and thank God. But deeper listening? Rarely.
My best inspiration often comes in a thought provoking quote with an inspiring image found on Facebook or Pinterest.
Nibbling on God’s word and peeking in occasionally to check in with him is not satisfying or fully nourishing. I want to turn the pages of life slowly, enjoying and learning from its refreshing details. Instead of tidbits, I hunger for more of God.
If I continue to speed through and never slow down to be with God, I won’t hear him deep within me. If I skim my spiritual life, I won’t meditate, enjoy or grow in reflection. What is life teaching me? How do I hear God and my own voice in all the chaos of to-do’s, busyness and noise of society?
Do you skim? Skim your spirituality? This calls for an honest reflection and assessment.
Who Controls our Schedule when it Comes to Slowing Down to be with God?
Who controls your schedule? The reality is we do have choices. We are not powerless. Yes, our family and work take up much of our time, but if we step back and really look, we have options.
Don’t allow busyness, speed, obligations, expectations and FOMO to be in the driver’s seat. They will ride along with you in the journey of life, but don’t let them determine your route.
Reminds me of the story of two little girls at the bus stop, with their calendars in one hand and cell phones in the other.
“Ok, I will move ballet back an hour, reschedule gymnastics and cancel piano… you switch violin lessons to Thursday and skip soccer practice… that will give us 3:15-3:45 on Wednesday, the 16th to play.”
I don’t what my life to be like this and especially don’t want my time God to reflect this lifestyle. I want to look at God, stay within his loving presence – not gaze at my lists, calendars, computer screen and cell phone.
The direction of your focus is the direction your life will move.
Let yourself move toward what is good, valuable, strong and true.
Too often we allow the urgent to determine our life and how we will try to fit God into our schedule. The truth is God is here now, waiting and wanting and open for us to enter into HIS story.
What are we focusing on?
“Tell me to what you pay attention and I will tell you who you are.”
~Jose Ortega y Gassett
Starts with a desire to slow down to be with God. God will honor that prayer and help you see him and hear him during the busy day. Ask Him.
I will be sharing some tools this week for you to try. Remember you do have the power on how you spend your time. You can choose to make more time, deep time with God. You can decide to find moments to slow down.
Think about what expectations drive your day. What excuses determine how you spend your time? Slowly I am becoming more aware that many of my reasons for skipping or rushing my time with God are just excuses. Name them for what they are, then ditch the excuses.
Important vs Urgent in Slowing Down to be with God.
Prayerfully I have set my overarching priorities in life: God first, followed by family/friends and my own self-care. Using these three points as the framework, the important things in life become clear.
I ask myself if I am reacting to the urgent. The loud demands of life or choosing what is important sets the whole tune of the day for me.
“We realize our dilemma goes deeper than shortage of time; it is basically a problem of priorities. We confess: We have left undone those things that ought to have done; and we have done those things which we ought not to have done.” Or, as a cotton mill manager once told him, “Your greatest danger is letting the urgent things crowd out the important.”
Charles E. Hummel
In preparing for this series one of the best lessons so are for me is this:
The important, the priorities of life take slowness and is deep work.
All the other stuff can be fast, shallow, and skimmed.
I enjoy the speed, the productivity, the fun to checking off the items to be accomplished. But I am learning to keep that for my other work – the urgent, the in reality not high priorities in life.
Cal Newport has a great book called Deep Work – Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World. His words made me realized there are two levels in life: one necessitating time, slowness, depth and others you can speed through. Two separate entities, categories of my time, and they both require different approaches.
God, my family and my self-care require my full focus and energy. Slowing down to be with God comes first.
The Value of Pacing
My second daughter in high school excelled in track. As a sprinter, she ran the 100, 200, 400 and the relays. But it was the 400-meter race that taught me the value of pacing.
The 400 is a fast run but a longer one than the sprints. You have to use your head to strategize that race, to pace yourself in every part so you will have the energy and capability to finish well.
I’ve read life is a marathon – slow and steady wins the race. But with our hurried society, I think the 400 meter may be a better example.
We need a mind shift to slow down to be with God. We can start small and discover tools that help us. We can be open to living deeper and in communion with God.
“Acceleration will remain our default until our attitudes change.”
Align yourself with your priorities and deepest desires.
I believe God is within us and around us all the time. But at times I just can’t quite tune him in. Busyness diverts my attention. Worries and fears fill my head instead of his voice. My mind races ahead to the next project, missing the blessing in the present. This series is to help all of us slow down to be with God.
The purpose of these five points is to stir your thinking about how you live, plan, and spend time. The next four days I will share specific tools to help you in this exploration of slowing down to be with God.
Each day I will have Spiritual Summer School homework: Here is today’s assignment:
- Choose a question from below to talk with God about and listen deeply to where he is guiding you.
- Journal, pray an discuss which question resonated most with you.
- Don’t forget that each day at 1:30 eastern, I will be on Facebook live on my author page, talking about the day’s topic. I hope you can join me live or watch the replay on that same page.
Questions to ponder:
Do you skim your spirituality? This calls for an honest reflection and assessment.
What are you focusing on?
What is your priority in life?
What is your deep work as it relates to your walk with God?
How do others expectations of your time determined how you spend your time?
How do you feel about busyness? Is it something you can control, modify? Does it control you?
How obsessed are you with productivity and speed? Does FOMO drive this need in you?
What excuses influence how you spend your time?
Think about pacing and how pacing in a new manner may affect your day.
I compiled a workbook about this series with places to write your thoughts, daily homework space, resources and inspirational quotes. You can get this resource by clicking on the button below:
I have two books that may also help you on this journey:
Spiritual Retreats: Slowing Down to be with God. This is my newest book and right now the e-book version is only 99 cents on Amazon
Tomorrow the topic will be: Six Strategies for Slowing Down to be with God.
Let me know below how you like this series so far. What thought has resonated most with you? How do YOU slow down to be with God?