Hurry Up and Wait

Letting go of our need for fast solutions

Written by Earle Donelson

Still in a crowdHave you seen that commercial? The one with the guy who is in such a great hurry that nothing’s fast enough for him? “One Hour Photo—Too Slow!” “10-minute Oil change—Too Slow!” “Fast Food—Too Slow!” Although humorous, it’s also a sign of the times.

In today’s world, everything seems speeded up, as if an old 33 has been turned up to 78 rpm. Hectic schedules and fast-paced lives, the need for instant contact and replies, high speed Internet, cell phones, text messaging, faxes, they are all part of our gotta-have-it-now world. And with all that rushing comes the demand for solutions—Now! ASAP! Instantly! As in yesterday.

Yet some of life’s most important decisions cannot and should not be made hastily, impulsively or under the gun. They are simply too important for snap judgments. Numerous proverbs, sayings and one-liners attest to the necessity of taking one’s time in important situations: Fools rush in…Look before you leap…Patience is a virtue.

Significant issues simply require time to think, study, look at from various angles, gather input. They require patience. So how do we resist the urge or demand to hurry our solutions? How can we slow down and wait patiently for the best response or resolution to develop?

Each of us has our own processes for making decisions and seeking solutions. Being aware of our own methods, tendencies, and strengths and weaknesses is important. Sometimes it helps if I can slow the process down—be more patient and deliberate as I seek the most appropriate solution. I deliberately take time to think about, ponder and discern the proper response or solution.

I may look within or seek input from friends or family. I may go for a walk, sit by the lake or do laps at the pool. Sometimes I consider the problem or issue while I work on the house, rake leaves, paint, clean or iron (yes, iron). Other times, I sit down, with or without music, and define the issue, problem or question. I make a list of the pros and cons, the variables, and the end result. Some would call this multitasking. But really, for me, it’s about slowing down and being patient, giving myself time to consider the question and search for the best solution, curbing the need to hurry an important decision and letting it come to me.

I also slow things down by using the process of prayer, discernment and deliberation. I sometimes sit in an empty sanctuary and pray, think and simply let things soak in, taking time to talk to God and Christ. By so doing I am seeking input from a very personal source of support, comfort and inspiration. But it takes time to hear, see and accept what is offered back. Considering possible solutions, I ask myself these questions:

  • “How would this fit with my faith and values?”
  • “How does this fit with what God or Christ would have me do?”
  • “How will it affect my life (my family, my friends, my _______)?”
  • “How will I feel about this tomorrow (next week, next year)?”
  • “What happens if I am wrong?”
  • “Am I hurrying my response/process?”

In today’s world, the pressure is strong for immediacy. We may not always have the luxury of time, but by being deliberate, patient, and open to the decision-making process, we can resist the temptation to hurry or rush our more important choices. As it says in Ecclesiastes: “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”

Copyright ©2006 Earle Donelson