Author note: Those who prefer e-books will be happy to hear that Darla’s latest book, After My Son’s Suicide: An LDS Mother Finds Comfort in Christ and Strength to Go On, is now available on the Barnes and Noble site as a Nook Book. It will soon be available in Kindle format, as well.
Feeling fragmented is a common experience in modern society, but perilous because it is symptomatic of spiritual sickness, even spiritual starvation. As disciples of Christ we desire to be, instead, spiritually healthy and whole, with body, mind, and spirit functioning harmoniously to accomplish the Lord’s specific will for us moment by moment and letting go of all other priorities peacefully.
How is that remotely possible in a world that calls out with hundreds of priorities and options for every moment of our time?
Time Limitations Are Part of Our Test in Mortality
Time is a thought-provoking subject. How we choose to use our time is crucial to our very salvation. In the scriptures, time is referred to in many ways: in the Lord’s due time, in the fulness of time, signs of the times, times and seasons.
We are told not to idle away our time, that this life is the time to prepare to meet God, that in the Last Days perilous times will come and if we do not improve our time in this life, then cometh the night of darkness.
The Doctrine and Covenants refers to God’s time, angels’ time, prophets’ time and man’s time reckoned according to the planet on which they reside, that the Lord will hasten His work in its time and that for the elect’s sake these days — the last days — shall be shortened. That seems to be the only explanation for how the days and years fly by.
We are told that after Satan is bound, time is no longer, that there shall be time no more. It is hard to comprehend having all eternity with no time limitations and no more measurements of minutes and hours—no more fragments of time, no more being fragmented.
Neal Maxwell said, “Time isn’t your natural dimension. There are days when you wish that time would pass quickly, and it won’t, and there are days when you wish you could hold back the dawn, and you can’t. A fish is at home in the water, but we aren’t at home in time; we belong to eternity. If we were really at home in time we wouldn’t wear wrist watches and have clocks on the wall. We have to function in time, but in those moments when life presses in upon you, remember you are struck out of eternity.”
Because we have time pressures and must choose every moment, time-use choices become an important part of the test of mortality.
To help us function better in this foreign dimension of time, I hope to provide in this article the best reasons you’ve ever heard to stop hurrying as well as ways to find peace through obtaining a more Godly perspective of time.
The Hurry Syndrome
“Hurry, we’ll be late!” “Quick, get this done before supper!” “There’s so much to do. Hurry faster!”
When all my children were still young, my whole life seemed filled with hurrying, and I became very tired — in fact, bone weary. One morning, from the moment I awoke, my mind was heavy and haunted with hurry. It seemed I’d always been in a hurry, but wasn’t that good? After all, weren’t we supposed to work while the sun shines, be in pursuit of excellence, and lengthen our stride? How could we fulfill the long list of righteous goals the Church sets before us and not hurry? Surely, the more we hurry, the more people we can serve, the more scriptures we can read, the more lessons we can teach, the better we can help build the kingdom.
Still, this pressured way of life had sometimes become drudgery, and no matter how fast I hurried, I never accomplished what I felt I should. Trying to live joyfully was just too hard, and there weren’t enough hours in the day. It seemed the only solution was to get up an hour before I went to bed!
Too often the harvest of this frantic lifestyle had been frustration, poor health, confusion, and loss of personal peace — quite the opposite from the fruits that are supposed to come from gospel living. There had to be an answer to get me back on track. I went to the window and looked out at the mountains — still snow-capped but beginning to green in the new spring warmth. I decided to take a walk.
Isn’t Hurrying Essential?
It was early morning, the air smelled wonderfully fresh, and the trees were just leafing out. But my mind was whirling with insistent questions: Was hurry essential? Wasn’t it righteous? Was there any way to avoid it?
I decided the cemetery would be a good place to walk as I thought through the hurry problem. Nobody was hurrying there!
The cemetery had beautifully manicured grounds and great trees spreading protective branches over the peaceful dead. Had they, too, raced through their days, concerned about meeting obligations, getting to appointments, keeping up with demands? What would they tell me now, if they could, about what really matters?
I knew Goethe’s saying, “Things which matter most must never be left at the mercy of things which matter least.” But too many things in my life seemed to matter most, and there never seemed to be enough time to do them all justice. The quiet things seemed easiest to leave out — a walk in the early morning freshness, meaningful prayer and meditation, sweet moments with the scriptures, and precious time with the children.
As I walked, a sentence I had read recently came to me and struck a nagging chord in my mind. It had bothered me at the time because I had been so certain that all my efforts to hurry were somehow good. The thought was: “Hurry is of the devil.”
I pondered and prayed about that idea. When I tried to imagine the Savior hurrying, I found it impossible. Yet He never idled away His time or failed to do His Father’s will. I thought of Christ-like friends who radiate serenity and joy. They do things the Lord’s way and are unmoved by undue pressures from the outside world. One of my deepest desires was to be like them. With the newness of spring all around me, I started down a new, more peaceful path as my solution became suddenly clear.
The Savior said, “Come follow me.” (Certainly not, “Hurry and follow me!”) If I thought carefully of His character, His life, His manner of living and doing, I would have a perfect measuring stick to determine the place of hurry in my life,
I returned home and wrote a list of the most obvious Christ-like traits. Then I listed their opposites.
Christ-like Traits . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Opposite Traits
Accepting of people and reality . . . . . . . Kicking against the pricks
Loving others unconditionally . . . . . . . . .Controlling, loving if others meet conditions
Unmoved by outer pressures . . . . . . . . . Driven by the winds and tossed
Centered on the Father’s will . . . . . . . . . Centered on self-will
Serene, tranquil . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . In turmoil, tense, irritable
Calm, unhurried . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Rushed, agitated
Full of faith and hope .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Full of doubt, skepticism
Peaceful, composed . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . .Worried, out of control
Warm, kind, compassionate .. . . . . . . . . . Cold, brusque, sharp, task-oriented
Clear-minded, receptive to the Spirit . . . . .Confused, racing mind, closed to promptings
Positive and alive in the moment . . . . . . . . Unaware of good in the moment
Contented, joyful . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Frustrated, angry, full of regret
There I had it: the opposites described the Hurry Syndrome — the list of my worst feelings when hurry is uppermost in my mind. No trace of doubt remained; hurry is of the devil. It has the potential to destroy personal peace and mar the beauty of our lives.
The Hurry Syndrome, I quickly discovered, has nothing to do with moving quickly, being productive, or feeling the excitement of making a positive difference. In fact, it is the enemy to these. Hurry tends to make us inefficient, unproductive, and discouraged, as well as irritable, angry, and self-centered.
Hurry is the outward response to an internal pressure we ourselves create by believing we should be able to do more than is wise, or even possible, and by failing to focus on the one thing that is most needful. Hurry creates an inability to enjoy the present moment because our expectations for that moment are unrealistic or misguided. In short, the feeling of hurry is a product of believing things that are not true and responding to messages that are not coming from the Holy Ghost.
How to Stop Hurrying
A decision to stop hurrying may be easy. Stopping is not! Hurry is a bad habit that cannot be simply abandoned but must be replaced by good habits.
Even with a strong awareness of its negative effects, there were times I regressed, and the pattern of my day would go something like this: I wake up with a knot in my stomach caused by the certain knowledge I can’t possibly finish everything on my “must do” list. I take no time for scriptures and prayer, but begin immediately to rush around, my inner pressure and irritability eliciting resistance and lack of cooperation from family members.
By noon I have a tension headache and seem to be going in circles. When I run errands, I forget half the things I need and don’t get much accomplished. I feel out of control and pushed around by the things that must be done, and just as I suspected early on, I let several important things fall through the cracks — including rest and rejuvenation — and end my day exhausted, frustrated, deflated.
That kind of day gave me the motivation needed to regroup and follow the four guidelines I have found to be most effective in my “anti-hurry campaign.” Because of the following guidelines, I can honestly say I rarely hurry anymore. What a relief!
- Make a renewed commitment to focus on replacing the Hurry Syndrome with the Savior’s example.
- Ask for spiritual help when planning the day. (Remember: one bucket can’t water the whole world, but it can make a small spot nice and green.) Ask in fervent prayer for the Lord’s help in setting priorities, knowing I can do nothing important without His help and that only He knows what is most important to accomplish in any given time period.
- Purposely schedule quiet times and calming influences: music, exercise, meditation, scripture reading, prayer time. Sarah Ban Breathnach reminds us, “Usually, when the distractions of daily life deplete our energy, the first thing we eliminate is the thing we need the most: quiet, reflective time. Time to dream, time to think, time to contemplate what’s working and what’s not, so that we can make changes for the better … Learn how to pause.”
- Place printed reminders around the house, such as D&C 10:4, “Do not run faster or labor more than you have strength.” Ecclesiastes 3:1, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”
Peace Through Perspective
Ultimately, glimpses of the way God sees time can best free us of the fragmentation of the Hurry Syndrome. Wayne E. Brickey suggests that, “Time grips only those who fear it. Because we have to live within time to transcend it, the patient person adopts the honest and eternal as a clock, which slows down or speeds up as needed to keep pace with God … Only eternity is a long time. All other periods are mere moments among the eons.”
Since 100 years is only a day in God’s time, our lifetime struggles with our weaknesses only seem to us to string out forever. The Lord must view our life as a quick progression of steps leading us closer and closer to Him. He knows the beginning from the end; He knows that all those headed in the right direction are eventually going to make it. This knowledge eclipses all anxiety.
He sees us following the plan of eternal progression line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, there a little, until we return triumphant. Our weaknesses and stumblings along the way must seem quite irrelevant to Him because He knows we will eventually overcome them. He certainly doesn’t identify us with them as we are prone to do.
If we can learn to see things more nearly as God sees them, we can be so much more believing, charitable, and patient with ourselves. If we can focus on our righteous desires and see the process of perfection as God must surely see it — with total belief in our ability to keep moving along the path with His help — then we will be undaunted by delays and detours. Most importantly, we can learn to be compassionate and forgiving to ourselves, as Christ would have us be.
When we choose to trust God and accept His grace and His love, the joy of the gospel finally becomes real in our lives. Stepping into God’s care is a gentle step, one that brings peace and harmony, the only thing that can truly make us feel whole in any fragment of time in our lives. This fragment of time weaves itself into all eternity, and our choices in each fragment of time determine our destiny.
When we turn to Him we find reassurance of the purpose of our lives — how utterly irreplaceable we are to those who love us, how utterly impossible it would be for someone else to accomplish the work of our lives. We also learn that we are totally and unconditionally loved by our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ.
Wholeness denotes being finished and fully developed, which may take us eons to achieve. However, now, this moment, in this fragment of time, we can feel His love, partake of His Atonement and become whole-hearted in our desire to be His disciples indeed.