One of my favorite things about retirement is the slower pace. The frantic striving I thought was necessary to complete my never-ending to-do list wore me out. Irritability and impatience became my constant response to everything and everyone. I rarely managed to enjoy what was right in front of me. Instead, I kept my focus on what I still needed to do. Whenever I took time for friends or family, the things I didn’t do taunted me. Instead of delighting in the people I cared about, my thoughts kept going to all the things I should be doing.
Now I’m retired, the panic of running out of time dissipated. Maybe it’s because we left Southern California and moved to Central Arizona. People drive slower here. At first, this frustrated me. I set the cruise control so I wouldn’t go over the thirty-mile-an-hour speed limit for the mile and a half I drive from the freeway to my house. Gradually, I adjusted to the slower speed limit. Relaxed. Rather than feeling frantic because I’m not going fast enough and may not have time to get everything done, peace settles over my mind. I notice the hawk flying over the field, the calves walking next to their moms, the sun lighting the yellow leaves, so they glow like pieces of gold on the trees.
A Slower Pace brings the Good Life
I find I walk slower too. Lingering to talk to someone I meet in the market or in the church lobby instead of keeping my head down, pretending I don’t see them. Listening, taking time to engage in conversation. Caring about what others have to say.
While I still have a to-do list, I’m more willing to put it aside. The things on that list can wait. Even if I don’t get everything done, life continues. Good life. The peace I longed for never came with a completed checklist. Instead of worrying about when I’ll get everything done, I’m learning to savor the moments. I’m giving more of me and less of what I accomplish.
Finding a Slower Pace when You Aren’t Retired
Easy for you to say, you may think. After all, you’re retired. How does this apply to me? I still have work and commuting eating up the majority of my day. Kids to run around, a house to keep clean, social obligations, ministry. Slowing down isn’t an option for me.
I hear you. Most of my sixty-two years spent on the hamster wheel of get-it-all-done. Don’t wait until you retire to slow down!
1. Get Up Earlier or Stay Up Later to Meet with Jesus
I’m a morning person, one of those obnoxious (according to others) who wakes up awake. My dearest friend is a night owl. I meet with Jesus first thing in the morning, as soon as my feet hit the floor. My friend needs to wait until later in the day. She spends quality time with Jesus in the late evening, when the house is quiet, and everyone else is in bed. When doesn’t matter. But time with Jesus, reading His Word, telling Him about your joys and sorrows, casting your burdens at His feet, is the first step to the peace you long for. Spending time with Him multiplies your patience, compassion, and peace.
2. Leave for Work and Appointments a Little Earlier
If, like me, traffic and fear you won’t get to your destination on time to prepare, feed your irritability, leave a little earlier than you think you need to. The unexpected traffic jam won’t be such a problem. You may even avoid them! In the car, turn on praise music. Sing along! For the rest of the day, that praise music will be the background your day.
Or, keep the radio off. Use the time to meditate on God’s Word. Pray. His Word will continue to flood your heart and mind throughout the rest of your day, bringing His peace.
3. Keep Reminders of His Love and Grace Where You Can See Them
Write a verse from your time with Jesus on an index card or sticky note and put it where you’ll see it throughout the day. Let that Word penetrate your anxious thoughts. Invest in a plaque with a verse that reminds you of God’s care for you. Make your screensaver an inspiring quote or favorite Scripture.
4. Take Your Lunch Outside
Enjoy the sun on your back. Be aware of the beauty of God’s creation. Notice the gifts He has for you, the symphony of birdsong and leaves gently rustling in the breeze, the smell of jasmine, colorful flowers. He is everywhere and His creation points to Him.
5. Get Help from Others
My husband always asked, “What can I do to help?” Too often I said, “Nothing.” And then resented him relaxing while I kept working. While your husband or kids may not do a chore to your standards, working together and then having time to play together brings greater joy than a perfectly folded shirt or a sink without any spots.
6. Do the Things that Bring You Joy
Change the order of your to-do-list. What are your real priorities? Spending time with family? Having lunch with a friend? Rest? Do those first. They feed your soul and allow you to tackle the laundry and marketing with joy instead of dread.
7. Take Regular Time to Get Away
You don’t have to go far. A prayer and/or gift walk. Pour your heart out to God. Look around you and thank Him for all He does for you. Once in a while, take a day to go somewhere where you feel close to God. For me, it’s the water. For a friend, it’s a hike in the mountains. Don’t have an agenda. Spend time letting your heart and mind focus on God. Tell Him your anxious thoughts. Listen for His encouragement in a verse the Holy Spirit brings to mind. Feel His love envelope you, guarding your heart and mind with the peace that transcends all understanding.
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