Have you ever felt like time is just slipping away? Maybe it’s time to rethink and slow down! Adele Werner shares her reflections on the benefits of stepping back and slowing down.
I was recently listening to an episode of the Concordia Publishing House Podcast with Tanner Olson of Written to Speak. In this episode, Tanner said something that really stuck out to me. He said that oftentimes, he will hear people say that they can’t wait to read all of one of his poetry books in one night. His response is usually to ask that they don’t. He goes on to explain how he believes poetry is meant to be consumed more slowly. It’s meant to be savored. This is a valuable lesson in today’s fast-paced consumer culture. It’s time we recognize the value of slowing down to be even more rooted in our faith.
Stop the Binge
We live in an age of binging. We are so used to pressing “Next Episode,” and it’s so easy to find “more” to watch or hear or read. Our culture even encourages us to binge. It’s binge or be left behind in a world that moves from one pop culture phenomenon to the next at breakneck speed. Slowing down and really thinking about what you’ve just consumed is no longer automatic and expected. It takes effort to actually stop consuming. While there is a time and a place for being so excited about content that you can’t stop yourself from learning more (especially when it comes to our faith), slowing down is a necessary step to process it all.
I love that we have the opportunity every Sunday to slow down and focus on specific parts of Scripture. While the whole story of God’s salvation plan is on display every Sunday, each Sunday also gives us the opportunity to stop the binge. Each Sunday, we can slow down and dig in deeper into a specific aspect of our faith in ways we can’t do when we’re in binge mode.
Whether your church follows the one-year lectionary, the three-year lectionary, or another Scripture reading plan throughout the Church Year, you can savor that weekend’s Scripture throughout the week. Reread last Sunday’s Bible verses and dig in. Philippians 4:8 states, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Think through how this week’s Scripture shapes your understanding of God. What do you learn about Him through it? Where does this fit in your picture of His plan? Start there and go further.
Enjoy the Season
I am not one to slow down. I am almost always doing a million things at once. I’m either rushing from event to event or planning out my next “busy season” that never actually ends. The only time I will ever actually stop is when I’m forced to. As I am writing this, I am currently on my “maternity leave” of sorts. I am in the final few weeks before I will be able to hold my daughter in my arms instead of carrying her in my womb. To be honest, I’m finding it difficult to enjoy these last days of pregnancy. The days seem to blend together, and my low energy level and baby bump only allow me to complete one project a day (if I’m productive). I am constantly telling my husband how I can’t wait. I can’t wait to say goodbye to pregnancy and all the aches and pains that are specific to it. And I can’t wait to learn how to step further into the role of “mama.” But I need to remind myself to slow down. With each new season I move into, I am reminded again that I need to learn to wait well. To me, “waiting well” means enjoying the season you’re in for what it is and not hurrying to the next before it’s time.
This is why I love the structure of the Church Year. It teaches us to wait well. Each season is a new and different celebration of the story of Christ and the Church. Think about the church season of Easter. It is one of great rejoicing and reflection on the resurrection. Every year during this season, we get to slow down and focus on this aspect of the faith—resurrection. During Easter, we get to once again wonder at Jesus’ resurrection. In the upcoming season of Pentecost, we will talk about the life and story of the Christian Church throughout all time. And so it goes with the season after Pentecost and with every season of the Church Year. Not only do we get to slowly walk through these seasons in an organized way, but the structure of the Church Year also helps us find new joy in every moment in the story of Jesus. Year after year.
Once we’ve slowed down and really processed each season, we can press forward. While I’ve broadly written about how we should do this with Scripture and in the Church, I mean this personally as well. Sometimes there is a clear pull to move forward—Pentecost comes after Easter, the Book of Exodus follows Genesis—but most seasons of our lives are much more unclear as to where “forward” is. What season of life follows the seemingly unending pandemic and overseas conflict? How can I adapt to new communities? What will be my next move after the birth of my daughter? But in our faith, we do not have to worry that our life has deviated from God’s plan for it. Instead, we can trust His promises especially when our way seems unclear. We can look to His Word and see that in our Baptism we are called His son and daughter. We see that Christ is risen and our salvation is complete—there is nothing we have to add. From there we can continue to move forward and be sanctified by the Holy Spirit working in our life. We can pick up a new way to serve Him. We move from consumption to action, but pausing and savoring is an important step in the process.
I’ll end with an example from Tanner’s poetry where we see this pausing before continuing onward with Christ.
Tomorrow as the sun creeps over the
trees, I’ll slowly inhale and exhale.
I’ll sit in silence before I speak.
In the quiet of the morning,
I’ll bring God my honest thoughts and thanks.
I’ll ask for forgiveness and help, just like
the day before, just like tomorrow.
And as I go, I’ll hold hope close …
Poem from Continue © 2022 Tanner Olson, published by Concordia Publishing House.
Slow down with Tanner Olson’s new poetry collection, Continue.