Faith Lifestyle

Life in the Slow Lane: Why it Beats the Hustled Express Lane

“This is gonna be a quick in and out,” I pep-talked myself as I walked through the entrance of Whole Foods. 

After quickly running through my shopping list, I took in my surroundings. I visually mapped and strategically planned out the most expedited route through the maze of produce and people-saturated aisles.

I made it through the store in record time…and without that last minute “oh shoot, I forgot something!” requiring me to backtrack my way back to the other side of the store. 

Nope, not today! Score! 

I saluted my time-saving victory with a mental high-five. However, my celebration was abruptly cut short, as I was met by check-out lines that went on for days.

I huffed my dissatisfaction and felt my spirit deflate.  I begrudgingly made my way to the back of the “Express” lane, hoping it lived up to its expedited time-saving promises.  But even that lane was a good 10 people deep…so I didn’t like my odds.  

My restlessness was further aggravated when I realized the person ahead of me clearly had more than the 15 items max.  

Ohhhh, come on!

* * * * *

The Infectious Nature of Hurry

The above personal example is not my proudest moment. But it’s a real life example of how hurry can impact our actions and reactions. And at times, get the best of us.

Can you relate to this feeling of urgency and desire to “save” or “buy back” time?

In isolation, situations such as the one I presented above may appear seemingly harmless.  

So what?

So, you lost my patience a bit while trying to get through my grocery run, Rachael.  What’s the big deal?

Well, I agree this one episode of hurry is really pretty harmless in and of itself.  And at face value, it may appear that hurry is pretty harmless.


Situational hurry tends to snowball.

Situations like these…added up over time…can create a lifestyle.

Constant hurry can create a way of living that leaves us susceptible to scarcity thinking, robs us of peace, and discourages rest.

Hurry can also distract us from the most important things in life.

Important things, including (but not limited to):

  • Growing in our spiritual lives, such:
    • Putting our trust in God and accepting His grace (reminding ourselves daily that it is by His grace, not our works, that we are saved)
    • Learning to see ourselves as God sees us
    • Living a life of purpose (living for more than ourselves, investing in that which is eternal, and remaining obedient to God’s direction in our lives)
    • Remaining humble and teachable
    • Learning to trust, know, and love God more and more day by day
    • Living and loving more like Christ (loving our neighbors as ourselves)
    • Embracing difficult circumstances as opportunities of refinement in character
  • Investing in our relationships with family, friends, and other loved ones
  • Working with God to understand our unique gifts and passions and diligently following God’s direction in applying them
  • Using our time and unique talents to build up our communities and have a positive impact on society
  • Attending to our mental and physical well-being

I believe hurry is a sickness that not only has the ability to distract us from the things that are most important in life (such as those listed above). But also has the ability to infect how we act and react in all areas of our life.

Symptoms of Hurry Sickness: How it Affects Us

Our culture is steeped in hurry.  It’s hard to avoid it. In fact, did you know that there is actually a diagnosis for our endless hustle?  It’s called “hurry sickness.”

What is Hurry Sickness?

Hurry sickness is defined by Medical Dictionary as “a malaise in which a person feels chronically short of time, and so tends to perform every task faster and to get flustered when encountering any kind of delay.”

Psychology Today also describes it as “a mixture of anxiety and continual feelings of urgency. Its symptoms include high stress levels, declining quality of work, tiredness, and eventually serious health problems.”

Hmm…well then…aren’t we all infected with this ailment to some degree?

The Symptoms of Hurry Sickness

When’s the last time you felt short of time and/or found yourself multitasking? When’s the last time you felt highly stressed over everything on your plate and/or completely exhausted at the end of the day? 

Maybe a better question would be when’s the last time you haven’t felt this way?  

Personally, I have seen and/or experienced the following symptoms of hurry sickness (amongst many others) at some point: 

  • A desire to do “all the things.”  A calendar jam-packed with travel, social events, and other commitments. A schedule with little to no room for downtime.
  • Ceaselessly phone-checking to ensure not a thing is missed. Inability to separate myself from my phone. Even when nothing pressing is at hand, using my phone as a crutch of distraction during even the shortest of pockets of downtime (e.g., pulling out my phone during the 3 minutes of wait time while the barista prepares my coffee). 
  • Saying “yes” to social events, even when feeling depleted. The lure of FOMO (fear of missing out) has me overlooking my need to refuel, convincing myself it would be foolish to miss out on an opportunity to connect with others or make memories with friends.
  • Trying to constantly speed up everyday tasks to “save time.” Such as weaving in and out of traffic lanes, intent on remaining in the fastest flow of traffic possible. And losing my cool when someone ahead of me is “foolish” enough to abide by the speed limit in the “fast lane.”
  • Finding it hard to “be on vacation” while on vacation. Weighed down by the obligation to check email. Or continue working on vacation to “stay on top” of things and avoid coming back to a mountain of work.
  • Multi-tasking various tasks to buy time. There are so many balls in the air, at times I lose track of what I’m doing and have to stop to ask myself “what was it I was doing again?” 

Can you see yourself in any of these scenarios?  

I know I can.  

In fact, now that it’s within my awareness, I can’t help but see hurry in and all around me every day. 

And honestly? I’ve noticed hurry doesn’t usually bring out the best in me.

Hurry Doesn’t Look Good On Me. How ‘Bout You?

Hurry tends to cause less-than-admirable qualities to come out of me. Impatience, anxiety, and stress are some of the bi-products…just to name a few.  And I don’t want to be a person who displays those characteristics.  

I don’t want to be a person who is easily triggered into discontent. Or emotionally reactive to less than ideal circumstances. 

I want to be a person who is calm and collected, even amongst chaos. A person who is slow to anger and not quick-tempered or self-seeking when faced with adversity. I want to be a person who looks more and more like Christ each day. No matter the circumstances or difficulties I face in life. 

As I reflected back on my Whole Foods experience, I was convicted of the fact that my reaction was not Christ-like in that situation. Not at all. I hadn’t been slow to anger and unchanged by my circumstances: I had been emotionally reactive, easily irritated, and driven by my pursuit of self-interest.

I admitted to myself: I needed to make some readjustments to my attitude and actions so as to look more like Jesus the next time I am confronted with a situation that tests my patience.

So I asked myself, “How would Christ have handled the same situation?”

I read through various parables and displays of Christ’s character and thought about how he reacted when he encountered undesirable circumstances.

As I meditated on these things, the Spirit pointed out to me:

Christ was never in a hurry. 

Jesus wouldn’t have lost his cool in the Express Lane. In fact, maybe he wouldn’t have been in the Express Lane altogether.

Maybe he would have sought out the longest line to work on his patience…

Maybe he would have been on the lookout for a distressed mother who could use some encouragement and empathy as she tackled errands with her kiddos….

Maybe he would have generously helped out a patron who could use some financial assistance with his/her groceries…

I hypothesized various actions I could imagine Christ taking during the same Whole Foods grocery run I had been on. I can’t know for certain how he would have acted. But I can say this with confidence: Jesus would not have been driven by hurry and he would not have lost his patience as I had.

Christ: The Model for an Unhurried Life

“Never in a hurry” is not a phrase I can claim as my own at this point in time.  Case and point: the examples I shared above (which merely scratch the surface).

I admit: sometimes I struggle with taking on too much. At times, my desire for “efficiency and speed” can have me looking out for my own interests, causing me to miss out on seeing the needs of others who cross my path.

I personally cannot say I’m “never rushed”…nor can I say I “always love others as Christ loves me.”

So I acknowledge:

I’ve got some room for improvement.

I’m Starting with the Woman in the Mirror: I’m Asking Her to Change Her Ways

I’ve personally seen how a hurried lifestyle creates unrest and discontent in my life. It also contributes to an attitude and perspective that tends to be more selfish than self-less.

Conversely, I have seen how incorporating more rest and times of silence and solitude to spend with God has lead to so much more peace and joy in my life.

God has really been encouraging me to intentionally pursue a less hurried life. For it’s when I’m less rushed that I’m more able to communicate with Him, receive His peace, live present, and honestly – enjoy each day more fully.

In my efforts to weed out unnecessary hurry and distraction from my life, I decided a good start would be to take a look at Christ’s life. He was, after all, the perfect example of how we ought to live.

Check out my next post (Christ: The Model for an Unhurried Life) to read more about various examples of how Christ displayed an unhurried approach to life.

In my next post, I also expand upon what this means for us and how we can begin living a less hurried life that is more aligned with Christ’s example.

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