“…For I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound in any and every circumstance…” (Philippians 4:11-12)
Our culture is fast-paced. It’s hectic, stressed and constantly on the go. We’re taught that in order to get anywhere in life: be the hustler. I live in Brighton, which is probably one of the most laid back cities in the UK. But head to London Victoria at rush-hour and you’ll catch exactly what I’m talking about. Heads down, fixated on illuminated devices while clutching a coffee-cup, sprinting to catch the fastest train.
We crave instant gratification, as we’re bombarded with an array of never-ending options, all demanding our attention. Meanwhile the world screams more, as we struggle to resist and wait. Hungry? McDonalds Drive-Thru. Tired? A quick-fix caffeine hit. Restless? Pull out the phone and tap, scroll and like away. When did life get this busy whilst simultaneously living eternally distracted?
Why the rush?
Our addiction to hurry is very real and very influential in this generation. While human efficiency is off the charts thanks to the brilliance and accessibility of technology, we seem to be more tired and stressed-out than ever before. Silence is hard to come by as we are surrounded by constant noise and activity. Busyness resembles the typical millennial. For me, a packed-out diary signals a successful week. And so the more plans, the better.
Subconsciously, I believe our culture communicates that this is what it means to be successful. Perhaps just by ‘being busy’ we feel more fulfilled, worthy, in demand and to show that we’ve proven ourselves. But is there a greater way to live? As a Christian, are we called to channel this culture of hurry into something more life-giving? Something that brings a sense of contentment? I would argue yes, but instead of looking forward, we need to go back in time to find the beauty in rest and rhythms.
Give it a rest
In ancient scripture, a weekly Shabbat or Sabbath was an integral part of the routine. A day to halt activity, stop, reflect and appreciate life in all its fullness. It’s radically counter-cultural, and for that very reason, I think it’s all the more crucial. I recognise that because I am a university student, I have a lot more freedom than the majority working the typical 9-5. Even so, I find a genuine rest hard to muster and harder still to regularly pursue. Yet rest is something we should fight for.
So what should rest look like in a 21st-century world? It may look different for every person, but the concept of creating instead of consuming is thought-provoking. To fulfil a creative outlet (I love writing or hanging out outdoors) or to cultivate calm and silence. Try spending genuine, uninterrupted time with people who challenge and encourage us in every way, beautifully exemplified in a church community. Let’s ensure we are giving our best selves to those around us, instead of the short-handed version. To learn to say no and to prioritise what truly demands our time and efforts. To take life in the slow lane for a change. It’s a challenge that’s waiting to be pursued. But I believe it’s one of the most worthwhile challenges for us as a generation.
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