Written By Daniel Ryan Day, USA
Daniel is married to his high school sweetheart, and dad to three. He’s the author of What’s Next: Your Dream Job, God’s Call and a Life That Sets You Free, and a podcaster at Our Daily Bread. He holds a Master’s Degree from Fuller Theological Seminary, and is an ordained minister.
“Wow you walk fast,” said a coworker as we walked from one end of the building to another.
Unfortunately, this was not the first time I’ve heard this phrase. I’ve heard this from friends as we walk downtown. I’ve heard this from my parents and siblings. Even on dates, my girlfriend and now wife has pulled my hand backwards and said something like, “Slow down and walk with me. We’re not in a hurry!”
Without me realizing it, my speed unintentionally suggests to those around me, “Let’s get this over with because I have things to do.” And I wish I could say that walking fast is the only way I’ve communicated to others that they are not as important as my schedule or what I have to do.
I often catch myself walking through the hallways at work with my phone in my hand checking messages or emails. I’ve caught myself looking at the clock in meeting rooms during meetings, or checking my email while someone’s talking. I’ve noticed that sometimes I look past people when they are speaking to me, and other times I try to move toward the door or put off certain vibes to let people know I have places to be, and people to see, and things to do.But the primary sign of unhealthy hurriedness is the way I feel when someone interrupts me.
As I was writing this article I was interrupted twice—by a coworker with a question and a friend who wanted to ask about how to fix something at his house. I put on a welcoming face—a smile and a kind word—but inside I wanted them both to hurry up so I could get back to writing about hurriedness. My inner—and honest—response was unloving, even if my outer response said, “Welcome! I’m glad you stopped by.”
Recently, through a passage I’ve read quite a few times, I’ve felt God echoing the sentiments of friends, coworkers, and my own feelings. It’s almost as if I feel God saying, “Slow down and walk with me. We’re not in a hurry.”
The Key That Opens the Door
The passage is 1 Corinthians 13, which was written by a Christian missionary named Paul. At one point, Paul traveled to Corinth and was a part of a church-plant. After he left to go to another city, Paul heard about division and the self-destructive behavior of people in this church (sounds like my church sometimes). He addressed these issues through a letter, now called 1 Corinthians.
As far as I can tell, the focal point of his letter—the primary theme that addressed the issues the church was facing the best—was love. 1 Corinthians 13 is called the love chapter, and Paul’s intention seems to be that true love is the answer to fixing so many problems. And how did Paul describe this love?
His first three words were, “love is patient.” The word patient can be translated “to wait” and carries with it a sense of not becoming agitated or frustrated by delays. In other words, love is not in a hurry, and love is okay with interruptions (even interruptions by coworkers or friends when you’re trying to get things done)!
Paul went on to include other positive words that could be used to define love—it’s kind, it’s hopeful, it protects. Paul also contrasted love with things that it’s not—it’s not selfish, it’s not easily angered, it doesn’t dishonor others (like when I check email or look at the clock while someone is talking).
I wonder if Paul began with patience—with unhurriedness—because, in some ways, it makes traits like kindness and hopefulness possible. In order for me to be kind, I need to be interruptible, and I can’t be in a hurry. Kindness doesn’t get agitated or frustrated by delays. I wonder if patience—unhurriedness—is the key that opens to the door to the positive traits of love.
In contrast, I wonder if Paul knew that patience—unhurriedness—prevents the uglies that show up when love isn’t present. When I’m in a hurry, it’s easy to become angered, especially at people who slow me down (ahem, road-rage). The very essence of much of my hurry is selfish—I’m seeing my schedule as more important than my relationships.
Hurried people like me keep a record of wrongs in that we are well aware of the “talkers” in our lives who may get in the way of our busyness. I tend to avoid the talkers—especially when I feel overwhelmed. And of course, hurriedness dishonors others in as much as it communicates to them that they are unwelcome or not as important as whatever it is that I have to do today (like writing an article about unhurriedness).
Love Says, “Hello. How are you?”
Love is not in a hurry and is interruptible. It doesn’t walk too quickly through the office or on a date, and doesn’t force a friend to say, “Slow down! Walk with me. We’re not in a hurry.” Love that is patient and unhurried says, “Hello. How are you?” and then stops to listen for a response. And then love that is patient and unhurried lingers for a moment, just in case the other person needs to process something.
As I’ve been challenged with the unhurried nature of love, God also keeps reminding me of another verse that talks about patience.
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9), emphasis added.
I think you could say that God’s invitation to be unhurried is an invitation for us to be more like Him in relationships with each other.
But let me just be real. This whole love-is-unhurried-thing is difficult for me. When I have something to do and someone interrupts, I still feel anxious, frustrated, and struggle to be open to the interruption. In these moments, I remind myself that God is unhurried with me and calls me to not be in a hurry with others.
For now, the best I can do is smile, take a deep breath, and push into the discomfort of the interruption. And my hope is that by going through these steps, I may just train myself over time to respond to interruptions with the same unhurried love God shows to me.