Keeping a Slower Pace on a Simpler Path

I’m not busy.

When was the last time you spoke these words?

In this crazy-fast-paced world we live in, is it even possible not to be busy?

I’ve struggled with this for years. There was a season when I had to be busy. I had a full-time job to do and night classes to take and a daughter to raise—by myself.

Some of you might be in that season now. Truly, I understand.

At one point, every moment of my day was filled with responsibilities. Some of them were good responsibilities too. But my days were filled past maximum capacity, and I was crumbling, bit by bit.

That intensely hectic season eventually passed. But by that time, my frenetic pace had become a lifestyle. I didn’t know how to do life differently. So I just kept running, from one commitment to the next.

The moment I had an empty space on my calendar, I filled it. I was afraid of empty space. And I tried to run from the real emptiness inside by filling my days with more and more things to do.

I desperately wanted to slow down. But I didn’t know how.

The only way to stop this insanity was to confront my fear. Out of fear, I tried to please everyone around me by saying “yes” to everything. Out of fear, I tried to control my life by controlling every minute of my day.

I had to let go.

So I asked God to teach me another way to live because I didn’t know any other way.

And He has been faithful.

It didn’t happen all at once though. I struggled with saying “no” to certain things, even to certain church activities. But once I tasted a free moment, I realized that my busyness was actually the thing that was imprisoning me.

Ending the cycle of busyness led to freedom—a genuine freedom to enjoy each day more fully and to love my family more deeply.

These days, my life is full, but I am learning to keep a slower pace on a simpler path. And I can honestly say . . .

I’m not busy.

Do you struggle with being busy too? You’re not alone.

Today, I’m joining Lisa-Jo, taking 5 minutes to write about “empty.”

Looking up a quote (below): 3 minutes
Writing this post: 7 minutes
Uploading photo and links: 9 minutes
Spending Fridays with you: Priceless

On the first day of this year, I shared what God is teaching me about space. It’s a lesson I continue to learn, and it’s why I am so passionate about this topic. (Hence, I’m over 5 minutes today.)

Then, just last week, I read in my new favorite devotional these words:

“It is very hard to allow emptiness to exist in our lives. Emptiness requires a willingness not to be in control, a willingness to let something new and unexpected happen. It requires trust, surrender, and openness to guidance.

God wants to dwell in our emptiness. But as long as we are afraid of God and God’s action in our lives, it is unlikely that we will offer our emptiness to God. Let’s pray that we can let go of our fear and embrace God as the source of all love.”

~ Henri Nouwen in Bread for the Journey; entry for February 28.

43 thoughts on “Keeping a Slower Pace on a Simpler Path

  1. Pingback: Thoughts on Blogging and Living | Denise J. Hughes

  2. Pingback: Time Is Our Gift {…and we get to choose how to open it} | Denise J. Hughes

  3. “It is very hard to allow emptiness to exist in our lives. Emptiness requires a willingness not to be in control, a willingness to let something new and unexpected happen. It requires trust, surrender, and openness to guidance.” I am so glad I have found your blog and read this quote. It is very applicable to my life right now. God periodically slows us down. This past year I was busy doing a task He’d assigned me and now that it is over, I do feel “empty.” But, you’ve given me an important reminder that He is working in the empty, even when it is less seen for now. Thank you!

  4. Saying no to requests of my time is not easy. I wonder how it looks to that person, what will they think? But what really matters is what God thinks and where He says I should spend my time and talents. Great post!

  5. Denise, I know so intimately what you shared here. For a season (and sometimes still today), I crammed-crammed-crammed every minute of my day and wanted to be busy constantly, for fear of what it might be to be empty. And so your words are so convicting and so full of peace for me! Thank you, friend!

  6. Denise,
    I read this post, in my email, before I knew it was a response to the 5-minute prompt, and then thought you spoke my *life* in it so well, I had nothing left to say! I had to wait, and ride out some “empty” time first, before I could even write my own. I wonder how common this journey of the soul is today… Thanks for penning this so beautifully.

    • Wow, Sylvia, I think you are on to something when you “wonder how common this journey of the soul is today.” I believe it is far more common than we may let on.

      I always appreciate your kind words. Thank you. ~HUGS

  7. I totally have been where you have been, too. It took me a long time to realize that I am really am introvert. I didn’t know it because I had this fear that if I wasn’t busy and with people, I would be forgotten and unloved. It’s so interesting to me the ways we try to conform to the world that are completely antithetical to how God made us.

    Can I just say “Fridays with you: Priceless” is the sweetest thing ever??

    • Jennifer, that is so interesting. I’m an introvert too, so I really get what you’re saying. And I love how you put that: “antithetical to how God made us.” That really says it all right there. 🙂

  8. I can’t tell you how much I love this post and your words “Keeping a slower pace on a simpler path”. This is my goal, to slow down enough to take in all the glory. Too often, I miss so much of what God wants to offer me.

    Thanks for popping in on my blog this week and your kind words. And yes, I do indeed live in Switzerland:) Living here has been really instrumental in helping me slow down enough to look for the beauty around me and be filled.

  9. I think this was written for me. I just can’t seem to slow down. Even on a day when I don’t have much on the appointment calendar, I manage to keep moving. God is calling me into a season of stillness and I am just not sure I know what that means. Striving to learn to keep the slower pace.

  10. Oh my… I wonder sometimes… if there were 36 hours in a day instead of 24… would I still fill each moment with things-to-do… If I could only always say no to the things He never said yes too… my life and my stress level would be much different… This post reminds me of the book “Margin”… and margin is what I have to allow myself ON PURPOSE these days… only wanting to know and do… what it is that God wants me to do…

    Thank you for learning the way… and then showing the way… “Ending the cycle of busyness led to freedom—a genuine freedom to enjoy each day more fully and to love my family more deeply.”

    Blessings to you… it is so nice to meet you 🙂

    • I think you’re right. If there were 36 hours in a day, then we would definitely find a way to fill it up and keep on going! Thanks for the book recommendation. I’m going to check out “Margin.” It sounds interesting! 🙂

  11. Thanks for your kind words at my blog…for some reason Disqus won’t let me reply to you on my blog…anyway, what a wonderful insight about how fear causes us to fill those empty time slots…I always love Henri Nouwen and his encouragement to let God love us and fill our empty places with Himself…Blessings to you, Denise 🙂 May we empty of self so we can be filled with more of Him 🙂

  12. So beautiful! I am in that season currently. Not alone… but raising 3 little ones (6 and under), trying to serve the best way I know how, trying to mentor, trying to be a good friend… wife… mother… daughter… There are days when I just need to not be “needed.” I’ve been struggling with this very thing… busyness. Thanks so much for sharing this! I’m thankful that God is always ready and willing to fill our emptiness!!!

  13. Excellent and challenging thoughts on empty! I’m learning not to be busy but purposeful, slowly God is showing me the balance. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, definitely words to ponder.

  14. Very thought provoking. I feel so much of my busyness is stuff that needs to be done. I pray that I would get my priorities right. It is a constant battle. Thanks for the encouragement!

  15. I struggle when I experience lack of control in a situation, so I can understand! And what a great quote to include at the end of the post. Thank you.

  16. Your writing always encourages me! Thank you so much! I can honestly say that most days I am not busy. I can so identify with how there is such freedom in the action of saying no to things. Keep writing…you are truly gifted.

  17. Denise, I often wonder why we always feel a need to fill empty space…
    wonderful, encouraging words! Me? I’m not busy (Praise God). But I’m often empty…
    striving to give my emptiness to Him with you today, friend. Thank you!

  18. Oh, I love this! I’ve been on that treadmill of overscheduled stress before, and it’s a hard season. Trusting God enough to turn over control is hard, but that freedom is so priceless!

  19. Denise~ I love this, your words my needed reminder to slow, to pace myself and not fill my life with so much that I miss it all entirely.

    “Ending the cycle of busyness led to freedom—a genuine freedom to enjoy each day more fully and to love my family more deeply.”

    How true these words are. Bless your heart, thank you for this.

    • Oh, Kris, you are so right. It is so possible to fill our lives with so much that we miss it all entirely. It’s a constant challenge for me to remember to slow down, and enjoy a different pace. ~HUGS.

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