Slow Down

 In Pastor Jeff's Blog

Slow down. Take a deep breath. What’s the hurry? Why wear yourself out? Just what are you after anyway? – Jeremiah 2:25

I just returned from a mission trip to the Dominican Republic where our church has helped to plant a school. One of the things you quickly notice about the DR is their love of speed bumps. They’re everywhere. Because we often traveled by mini-bus, each time we came upon a speed bump we had to nearly stop and crawl over it so as not to bottom out. I’m guessing that these speed bumps nearly doubled the time it took to get from one place to another.

At first I found these concrete humps incredibly annoying, not to mention hard on the back side. But over time I found that those moments of slowing allowed me to notice things I would have otherwise missed. An old woman singing as she skinned plantains. A barefoot boy giggling at a dog chasing its tail. A group of men playing dominos in the shade of a tree. I saw more of Dominican life because of those speed bumps.

Everything in the Dominican moves more slowly (Except for their mouths. Good Lord, they talk quickly!) For Americans weaned on the values of efficiency and productivity, the relaxed Dominican pace can be frustrating. Until you discover the things you’ve missed by speeding through life. Things like relaxed conversation. Breathing deeply. Noticing the beauty all around you. You begin to sense that the world is like a symphony playing a score that’s achingly beautiful and you can’t help but thank the One who wrote and conducts it all.

My heart is full from our trip, and my mind is filled with memories of the people and places we experienced. Now that I’m back I can feel the pull of the frantic pace of American life, and while I’d love to say that I’m going to resist it, I know from past experience that resistance is futile. Instead, I’m going to try to embrace the speed bumps of life – the inevitable interruptions and scheduling glitches that force me to slow down. And rather than curse them, I hope to embrace them, trusting that they will help open my eyes and my ears to the symphony that is best heard when we slow down.

While not a symphony, this song keeps running through my mind. Enjoy it here.

Jeff Marian serves as lead pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, MN.

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  • Kristine Gunderson

    Thanks for this message today, Pastor Jeff. Couldn’t be more timely. Many of us wear “business” as part of our brand. Think of what we miss as we speed through the myriad of activities that fill our waking hours? I was recently “downsized” from a management role with a large corporation with whom I have invested 30 years. Despite the cushion of a nice severance period, my inclination is to dive right back in and work, work, work, however, friends are encouraging me to to pause, for the first time in years, and enjoy the gift of time, as I think about what the next chapter of my professional life holds. After reading your message, I am now thinking this deliberate “speed bump” may be sending me a message I can’t ignore. Thanks!

    • Jeff Marian

      Thanks for sharing a bit of your journey Kristine. I hope and pray that this “speed bump” opens doors of unexpected opportunity and blessing!

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