Hurry Sickness

Julie Clinton

The most serious sign of hurry sickness is a diminished capacity to love. Love and hurry are fundamentally incompatible. Love always takes time, and time is the one thing hurried people don’t have.
– John Ortberg 

Who are the most important people in your life? 

Right now every mother knows whether she is close to her children—she just knows it. Every wife knows whether she's close to her husband. And you know whether you're close to God.

When we feel close, life is good. And when we don't, it's the pits. We all know that relationships don't just happen.

"But I just don’t have time to keep up with everything and everybody," I constantly hear from woman everywhere. And I feel the same way a lot, too! Being close takes hard work—feeling safe and free with one another. But we need to be careful. When we are pulled in every direction, we can easily give our hearts to other things and develop disordered affections. Consider this:

• American children ages 2 to 17 watch television an average of 1180 minutes per week. Parents spend 38.5 minutes per week in meaningful conversation with their children.

• Adults and teens will spend nearly five months (3518 hours) next year watching television, surfing the Internet, reading daily newspapers, and listening to personal music devices.

• The average work year for prime-age working couples has increased by nearly 700 hours in the last two decades, and high levels of emotional exhaustion at the end of the workday are the norm for 25 to 30 percent of the workforce.

• More than half of all consumers, at all income levels, say that lack of time is a bigger problem than lack of money, according to a survey in the Yankelovich Monitor.

The lack of relational time, I believe, is a spiritual problem. If the evil one can’t make you bad, he'll make you busy. In order to grow in love for others and love for Christ, we must slow down and stay connected to Him and others. I think Mother Teresa understood this as she warned, "Everybody today seems to be in such a terrible rush, anxious for greater developments and greater riches and so on, so that children have very little time for their parents. Parents have very little time for each other, and in the home begins the disruption of peace of the world."

Jesus realized that time was an essential element of meaningful relationships. Though He had many followers, He selected 12 to spend time with, teaching them what they needed to know to help spread the Gospel after His death (Mark 6:30-32). He took the time to have dinner with Zacchaeus, a despised tax collector (Luke 19:1-10). He loitered at a well to speak truth to a Samaritan woman—even though Jews were not to associate with Samaritans (John 4:1-26). He spent time away from the crowd communicating privately with God, His Father (Luke 5:16). In each of these examples, Jesus takes the time to invest in other people and in His own relationship with God—the most meaningful relationship of all. We must follow His model.

Maybe a shift in thinking is necessary. Instead of "spending" time with others we would be wise to "invest" our time. Spending leaves less for ourselves. Investing enables us to profit—in our relationship with others and through their relationship with us. Investing time in others is at the core of building meaningful relationships.

We cannot change the number of ours in a day, and we cannot make time go faster or slower. But we can change the way we fill up our time. Ask yourself this: When you sit with others, are you really present with them in your mind?

Jesus made time to connect with those in His path. He gave each of them His undivided attention—a good investment. Unlike me, Jesus didn't run through His day with a planner in one hand and a cell phone in the other. He didn't try to squeeze as many people and activities into the day as possible. Richard Swenson describes Jesus' lifestyle:
Jesus never seemed to be in a hurry…The Bible never says anything about Him running. Apparently, Jesus believed that very little of lasting spiritual or emotional value happens in the presence of speed. Jesus understood that busyness, productivity, and efficiency are speed words, not kingdom words. At times they are appropriate values—but they are never transcendent. Jesus understood that meditation, wisdom, and worship are slow, mellow, and deep.

Jesus also understood that our willingness to give ourselves to others is what really leads to meaningful connection. Why? Because it builds loyal friendships, trusted family ties, and loving relationships. But loyalty, trust, and love only come when we give ourselves to others—over time.

The biblical characters Jonathan and David understood it. Youthful admiration for one another led to friendship over the years. David and Jonathan’s relationship stood the test of difficult decisions and conflicting loyalties. They fought through the adversity by staying loyal to God and to one another. They built trust and strengthened their relationship. But it all started with Jonathan giving himself to David. "Jonathan, out of his deep love for David, made a covenant with him. He formalized it with solemn gifts: his own royal robe and weapons—armor, sword, bow, and belt" (1 Samuel 18:3-4, MSG).

Jonathan practiced his faithfulness to God in his relationship with David. Integrity, truth, intimacy, and loyalty characterized his side of the friendship. And even though we can never be sure we’ll have a friend like Jonathan in our lives, we can be sure we’re being a Jonathan to others.

Healthy friendships, marriages, and family ties don’t happen overnight. Loyalty, trust, and love take time.

Don't let hurry and the resulting clutter of everyday life rob you of your most precious gift—relationships.

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