We should take as our aim to live our lives entire­ly with­out hur­ry. The peace and joy and strength which God intend­ed for human life, the well-being and health of mind and body, is incon­sis­tent with liv­ing in a hur­ry.” — Dal­las Willard

After I left my coun­sel­ing job in 2018, I found myself in a sev­er­al-year peri­od of wait­ing. Wait­ing for what­ev­er was next, wait­ing to re-vis­it the Philip­pines and the min­istry I love, wait­ing to find the per­fect job, wait­ing for the pan­dem­ic to be over, wait­ing to feel pur­pose­ful and whole again after burnout. 

Dur­ing my sea­son of wait­ing, I redis­cov­ered parts of myself that I had for­got­ten — like the part of me that loves to write. While I was wait­ing for the thing” to arrive that would make a long sea­son of heart­break make sense, I learned to bake bread. I grew house plants and watched them thrive. I learned origa­mi and led my first col­lab­o­ra­tive art project at church as we fold­ed our writ­ten prayers into tapes­tries of hun­dreds of birds and butterflies.

But it wasn’t all bak­ing and but­ter­flies. It was hard. In the begin­ning, I wept almost dai­ly. I wan­dered around Mar­shalls for hours, look­ing for God knows what. I felt worth­less and pur­pose­less and direc­tion­less most of the time, espe­cial­ly when I wasn’t engaged in a clear, mean­ing­ful project. I won­dered if God had kind of for­got­ten why he made me and if he was tak­ing some time to fig­ure that out, too, before answer­ing my prayers. I felt a lit­tle embar­rassed for both of us.

Recent­ly I attend­ed a Fel­low­ship of the Burn­ing Heart retreat in Cal­i­for­nia. I felt deeply con­nect­ed to God, oth­ers, and the beau­ti­ful world around me. I expe­ri­enced align­ment between my heart, body, mind, and spir­it — some­thing I long for in my day-to-day life.

I shared this with my spir­i­tu­al direc­tor, who after thought­ful­ly lis­ten­ing respond­ed: Maybe this is it, Katie. Maybe this is the way God has been invit­ing you to live all along. Maybe you’re done waiting.”

As she spoke, I felt some­thing tight in my chest begin to release. Could it be true?

What if the whole time I thought I was learn­ing to wait, I was actu­al­ly learn­ing to live—slow­ly, inten­tion­al­ly, cre­ative­ly — at the pace God cre­at­ed me to live?

I won­der if instead of me wait­ing for God’s divine pre-pack­aged life plan to arrive on my doorstep, God was actu­al­ly wait­ing for me to learn that life with Him is simul­ta­ne­ous­ly much sim­pler and much rich­er than I could have imag­ined. Maybe God was invit­ing me to catch up to his pace — which means slow­ing down.

After all, how fast did Jesus move while he lived among us?

He moved at the speed of walking.

Jesus only moved and act­ed at the inten­tion­al pace of the Spir­it and the plea­sure of the Father — which is to say, Jesus moved at the speed of Tri­une rela­tion­ship. After the Phar­isees accuse Jesus of break­ing the Sab­bath by heal­ing a par­a­lyzed man, Jesus tells them he was sim­ply act­ing in utter depen­dence upon his Father.

Very tru­ly I tell you, the Son can do noth­ing by him­self; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because what­ev­er the Father does the Son also does.
By myself I can do noth­ing; I judge only as I hear, and my judg­ment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.
John 5:19, 30NIV

When Jesus walked upon the earth, he saw peo­ple. Jesus noticed the hurt­ing, the bro­ken, and the out­cast as he walked from place to place, and his unhur­ried pace meant he had time to stop and talk with them. To love them. To heal them. Two thou­sand years lat­er, Jesus’ pace hasn’t changed. But ours has. We’ve become a soci­ety that pri­or­i­tizes pro­duc­tiv­i­ty over rela­tion­ship, mate­ri­al­ism over sim­plic­i­ty, and hur­ry over inten­tion­al­i­ty. Jesus wait­ed upon the Spir­it to deter­mine his every move. 

As we try to pat­tern our lives after Jesus in our hec­tic cul­ture, can we say the same? When was the last time we admit­ted: By myself I can do noth­ing”?

In his book The Ruth­less Elim­i­na­tion of Hur­ry, author John Mark Com­er writes, To walk with Jesus is to walk with a slow, unhur­ried pace. Hur­ry is the death of prayer and only impedes and spoils our work. It nev­er advances it.”

Even though much has changed since Jesus walked the earth, Jesus’ gen­tle invi­ta­tion to slow down remains:

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on reli­gion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recov­er your life.
I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me — watch how I do it.
Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay any­thing heavy or ill-fit­ting on you.
Keep com­pa­ny with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.
Matthew 11:28 – 30MSG

In order to learn to walk with Jesus, we first have to un-learn the fran­tic pace we’ve embraced as a West­ern society.

As I have learned over the past few years, embrac­ing a walk­ing” lifestyle can feel excru­ci­at­ing. It can feel like you’re going absolute­ly nowhere. It can often seem more like wait­ing to live” than liv­ing to wait upon the Spirit.” 

But today, I can see so clear­ly what I couldn’t see for years in my long sea­son of wait­ing: slow­ing down with Jesus, learn­ing to walk as he walks and see as he sees, is the only way to tru­ly live as we were meant to live. As I learn to take Jesus at his word and dance to the unforced rhythms of grace, I am dis­cov­er­ing what it means to live freely and lightly.

Am I ridicu­lous­ly hap­py and peace­ful all the time?

No. But the invi­ta­tion of Jesus to live freely and light­ly serves as a light­house in the storm — an anchor point for me to return to over and over, each time my pace feels more like whiplash than living.

Is it pos­si­ble to live slow­ly 100% of the time in a soci­ety that seems hell-bent on fast-paced living?

Prob­a­bly not. We live far from Eden, and some­times our lives just get busy. There is noth­ing wrong with a full life, though when we equate full­ness with busy­ness we tend to run into trou­ble. I won­der how many of the things we believe we have to get done in a cer­tain time frame are more dic­tat­ed by a reck­less­ly rushed soci­ety than the move­ment of the Holy Spirit. 

Friends, what if the life we’ve been wait­ing for has been here the whole time, buried under­neath the smoth­er­ing weight of demand­ing expec­ta­tions, of who we think we should be to appear suc­cess­ful, tan­gled up in false visions of the good life?

Are we will­ing to find out what Jesus means when he says, Get away with me and you’ll recov­er your life”?

Or do we pre­fer the world’s ver­sion of hap­pi­ness, which often leaves us emp­ti­er than it finds us?

Today, I declare a truth that I will prob­a­bly try to take back as I strive to accom­plish some­thing to reaf­firm my iden­ti­ty in the eyes of the world. But I’m going to say it any­way, in the form of a prayer: 

Jesus,

I’m done wait­ing for an out­ward­ly spec­tac­u­lar life.

But I wor­ry that pat­tern­ing a life after your pace will make me look fool­ish and unsuccessful.

Today, I choose to trust that walk­ing at an unhur­ried pace with you is what my soul tru­ly needs, and what the world needs most, too.

When I for­get, keep me com­ing back to you.

Breathe anew in me the unforced rhythms of grace.

Find more of Kate­lyn’s writ­ing at www​.kate​lyn​jdixon​.com

Pho­to by Shin­ta Kikuchi on Unsplash

Text First Published June 2022 · Last Featured on Renovare.org July 2022

📚 The 2022 – 23 Ren­o­varé Book Club

This year’s nine-month, soul-shap­ing jour­ney fea­tures four books, old and new, prayer­ful­ly curat­ed by Ren­o­varé. Now under­way and there’s still time to join.

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