“For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything else we see and a pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.” 1 John 2:16
My cravings lately haven’t been for more, it has been for less. The world is going a little too fast for me and I want it to slow down. It seems that many are feeling the same way. It is becoming a trend that I hope it catches on.
My church had a Spiritual Life Retreat on a Saturday morning. I was pleasantly surprised and interested in going. For the last 5 years, I have begun a journey into Minimalism. A friend posted an article on Facebook by a Minimalist writer, Joshua Becker in 2013 and I was hooked. I began to get rid of many possessions, scheduling less on my calendar and taking time to rest. It has helped lessen the anxiety.
The church I attend is in Southern California, in a city located within Orange County. This area loves busyness, materialism and success. Most people’s schedules are packed with long work hours and lots of activities, their homes are large with more items than necessary and they are glued to their smartphones so they don’t miss out. Yet people are so disconnected and tired.
The retreat was led by a pastor named, Chuck Shumate. He began the conversation that he wasn’t always like this. But he knew God was calling him to slow down. He said many valuable things, but one of them was, “out of our rest, comes strength and wisdom. Say no to that guilt of resting.”
His assistant, his adult daughter, mentioned a conversation she had with her nieces. Her sister and family recently moved from Irvine to Fresno, California. She said her nieces, ages 10 and 12, told her how much they love living where there is no drama and how it is less stressful. One of the nieces said something that broke my heart. She said, “in living here, I can be myself.” She understood that down here in South Orange County, you can’t be yourself, that you have to fit in or you are considered weird for just being you.
I already was on a path to slow down. But now, I realize just because I live here, doesn’t mean I have to live and function according to the culture. I am not looking to stand out and bring attention to myself. My goal is to not be in a hurry and appreciate all who and what God is in my life.
In that retreat, Pastor Chuck mentioned having margins in our lives. Margins of space. When he travels out-of-state, he gets to a speaking conference the night before, so he can rest. If he is traveling locally, he allows a good cushion of time, so he isn’t in a hurry. One may think, but I don’t have time to have more time. So, if you don’t get to everything in your day, will the world end? Guess what, unless you are performing life saving surgeries, it won’t end.
At one point in the retreat, he had all of the participants do nothing for 30 minutes. Not to think or pray…nothing. After the exercise was over he asked for people to describe the exercise in one word. You would have thought by people’s reactions that they endured torture. Some said, “Boring!”, “Painful!” and “Miserable!” I said, “Refreshing!” I got some weird looks.
This culture promotes unnecessary competition. It is a “dog-eat-dog-world” out there and people are suffering. Suicides are many in this fast, competitive culture. Some of the recent teen suicides in the area, where the teens left suicide notes, mentioned they couldn’t handle the pace and competition. We must do better for our children and ourselves.
Lesson Learned: I will allow margins and rest, so I can draw strength and learn wisdom.
“Dear Heavenly Father, create in me a new heart. May I honor the Sabbath. Show me areas that I need to change, so I can be less anxious. Create a culture shift in this world to slow down and honor you, Father God. Forgive me for following the ways of the world. Let me be content in what you provide. Thank you for supplying my needs. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”