The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry
By Emma Parkin
Ever feel like your life is moving too fast, you’re rushing from one thing to the next and your heart and mind are in a constant state of unrest?
I didn’t realise this was true for me until I read ‘The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry’ by John Mark Comer. It was like millions of light bulbs going off in my head at once. The teachings and explanations made so much sense to me and things I had heard or knew before suddenly captured my heart in a new way.
I resonated so much with what John was saying and he wholly convinced me that following the ways of Jesus would create light, space and freedom in my life. And it did! Read on to find out how…
John highlighted 4 different aspects of Jesus’ life that can help us to live freely if we adopt the same practices.
1. Silence & Solitude
I was amazed at how solid the reasonings were for incorporating some sort of silence and solitude into your life – and that was before John even talked about the life of Jesus. The idea that as soon as our mind is restless, we reach for something to distract us. How true! He talks about how those little moments of your day are ‘potential portals to prayer’ and if we were to allow those moments to stay free from distraction, we could be connecting with God so much more. Wow! How many times could I pray if it were the same as the number of times I reached for my phone?
He then goes on to talk about Jesus’ way of life. Jesus took himself off to a quiet place as a regular rhythm in his life. Story after story shows how often Jesus removed himself from the busyness of life to spend time with His Father in prayer. ‘Jesus needed time in the quiet place.’ How much more then do we?
I knew in my head that Sabbath was important, and I’d heard lots of talks on it before (each time I resolved to do it!) but for some reason as I read ‘The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry’ something for me just clicked into place.
The reasoning for the Sabbath, the high importance of it and what to actually do on the day all added up and culminated in me actually setting a day per week aside to do the Sabbath properly. And I’m still doing it two months later. The reason why? It’s dramatically changed my life and I’m not exaggerating.
When I incorporate all four aspects of Jesus’ life into my everyday on top of the Sabbath, I feel more calm, I don’t automatically rush every little task to get to the good bits of life, I feel more energised, I can think more clearly, I can breathe more deeply and life doesn’t feel like it’s spinning out of control anymore – everything is just a lot slower. And I love it. It’s like I’m taking the skills I learn on the Sabbath into the rest of my week. It’s like I’m carrying the Sabbath with me.
(I’m still working on it and I’ve definitely not cracked it so there are absolutely times when all of the above are not true, but I now feel like I know how to keep the Sabbath going in my life.)
The part of Simplicity that stood out to me was the idea of making decisions based on how time costly they would be (not just the monetary cost) and weighing the cost against the benefit.
This chapter also talks about how Jesus had a lot to say about money and told simple truths about our relationship with money drawing us away from God. There is so much more in this chapter. Have a look!
The fourth aspect from Jesus’ life is all around slowing our lives way down. In Jesus’ life, he was interruptible, he made space for people and he took his time. The book talks about how we need to retrain our brains to slow down as we automatically choose the most efficient course of action (sometimes that’s right but we’ve let it spill into all areas of life).
To practise this idea, John talks about purposefully choosing the long queue at the checkout/waiting for the green man to cross the road/driving at the speed limit etc. All ways to help remind yourself that you don’t need to be in a rush, you can slow down, take your time. It’s worth saying John encourages the reader to take or leave some of his suggestions and they are only meant to help bring freedom.
One of the suggestions that I’ve taken on board and has made the world of difference to me, has been trying out forms of mindfulness and meditation. For me this means just taking time to be still for ten minutes in the morning and evening and allowing my breath to slow right down. ‘Just focus on my breathing – in and out and nothing else.’ I feel like it’s opened up a calmness in me that I hadn’t found before. I’ve found myself breathing more deeply and slowly during the day too which often equates to me not feeling so rushed or panicked. (Although, that’s not always the case, I’m still working on it.)
John Mark Comer says, ‘Mindfulness is just silence and solitude for a secular society. It’s like prayer, minus the best part.’ He goes on to say, ‘In meditation of the Hebrew/Jesus variety, you don’t just empty your mind (of the noise, chaos, anxiety, etc.) but you fill your mind with Scripture, with truth, with the voice of the Holy Spirit.’
This is what I would love to focus on next!
John makes 20 different suggestions that could help you slow down – why not have a read and pick one or two to try?
To conclude, I’ve lifted a quote from the book talking about Jesus’ teachings:
“They [Jesus’ teachings] are statements about how the world actually works. And if you ignore them, not only do you rupture relationship with God, but you also go against the grain of the universe he created. Cue the splinters.”
I’ve found this book to be powerful in many ways. It’s shown me how we as people are so easily led astray by the world and in this area of life if we’re not careful we won’t look any different to the world.
It’s revealed to me much about how the world was created and how the way Jesus lived in it was the way God intended us to live. We were designed to have silence and solitude, the Sabbath, simplicity and slowing down in our lives and without them, we won’t function optimally. We won’t have life to the full.
And finally, it’s shown me how to incorporate spiritual disciplines into my life and how much of a difference it can make. I’ve made changes to my life because of it.
I would wholly recommend reading ‘The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry’ by John Mark Comer. You won’t regret it.