When our son was 4 years old, a friend was visiting our home. Our son gently grabbed her face and gave her a soft, slow kiss on the cheek. She froze for a minute and said, “Wow! He gives out that slow love.”
The truth is: Good love is slow. Another truth: We are in one fast, jacked-up, distracted, over-stimulated, and angry world. So, how do we live counter-culturally, and slowly enjoy Jesus and one another?
Before I get into it, let me admit: I stink at it. Until about three weeks ago, I was checking the news 10 times a day, watching the coronavirus statistics like I would sports scores, checking email 10 to 15 times a day, on and off my cell phone constantly; all the while trying to be a great worker, dad and husband.
Shocker: I felt fatigued and anxious...and...my family could feel it.
Over the past month, I have been trying to apply what I’m learning in a book called The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry. Part of the thesis is that, as a society, we are anxious, depressed, fatigued, and stressed because we aren’t learning from the life of Jesus.
Jesus’ life was marked by observing the Sabbath, lengthy times of silence and solitude with God, simplicity, and a life free from the love of money. Now, most of us live with no Sabbath, almost no quiet time, all while running crazy trying to make more money to buy more stuff. On top of this, we check our cell phones and scroll social media like a bunch of dopamine addicts.
It is like there has been a conspiracy to put us on a fast treadmill to nowhere. We run hard. We try hard. We go faster and faster, but don’t feel like we’re getting anywhere. Tragically, deep relationships — including our marriages — are often the casualty. We spend more time tapping on a phone than we do talking to our own spouse.
Well, this is pretty depressing. So, let’s get to some suggestions on how to buck the culture — Romans 12:2 style! What follows is ten tips that I did not come up with. Some are in the Bible and some are in the book I referenced.
10 ideas for how to connect like never before.
1. Take at least 30 minutes to an hour a day to connect with Jesus. It is hard to enjoy and connect with Jesus when you don’t spend time with or pursue Him.
2. Enjoy and celebrate a sabbath. Take a break from all work to enjoy Jesus and one another.
3. Put your cell phone in a basket for an entire day once a week. We call this our Shab-basket. We know communication in marriage is vital and it won't happen if one or both of you are on the phone!
4. Only check your email once a day.
5. As the book I am reading says, make your smart phone a dumb phone. Turn off notifications, remove email, social media and any other distracting apps. Control your phone. Don’t let it control you. Also, go to bed with your spouse — not your phone.
6. Read books that draw you to the peace of Jesus. Watch less TV that moves you to the world’s ideology.
7. Simplify your life. Get rid of stuff that doesn’t bring you joy or add beauty. If you haven’t used or worn something in a while, get rid of it. Someone else might actually need it.
8. Intentionally do things slowly. Drive slower. Eat slower. Walk slower. Do that thing married people are supposed to do, slower. Slow down and give your spouse a 5-second kiss every time you leave one another or come back together.
9. Take time every day to just interact with and enjoy someone you love.
10. Fast from the news (except this newspaper) and coronavirus stats. Watching the news doesn’t seem to be a very good calm-down strategy.
Why should we slow down?
To have a better life? To feel better? No! It is much bigger than that. It is to put us in a posture to abide in Christ and worship our God. Peace is a by-product of a relationship with the Prince of Peace.
Brad Rhoads is Co-Founder of Grace Marriage and this article is part of a monthly column Brad writes for the Messenger-Inquirer Newspaper.