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Today I’m excited to share my thoughts on John Mark Comer’s (JMC) book “The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry: How to Stay Emotionally Healthy and Spiritually Alive in the Chaos of the Modern World.”
Why I Picked It Up…
I was drawn to this book because I recognized the title to be a quote by one of my favorite authors, Dallas Willard. Willard believes hurry to be “the great enemy of the spiritual life” and I cannot disagree. Personally, I’ve felt God calling me to slow down for years, slowly pruning my overactive calendar down to the bare minimum, just so I could breathe. I still struggle- like everyone- with my phone, and overstimulation, and the idol of productivity, so I wondered what JMC would bring to the table on this subject.
What I Loved About It…
There were three things I really loved about this book. The first was JMC’s humor. He’s got a fun style of writing that I wasn’t expecting- I don’t want to say it’s flippant, but it’s relaxed, full of humor, and very conversational. I often found myself snorting and chuckling over his occasionally cheeky remarks. He definitely has a hipster vibe, true to his hometown of Portland, Oregon.
The next thing I loved was the fresh perspective JMC gives on what it means to be a follower of Jesus. He speaks of it as an apprenticeship- where we spend our lives learning “the way of Jesus”. Of course, this is just another way of discussing spiritual disciplines such as sabbath, simplicity, solitude, and silence- still…the way he spoke of it awakened something in me and gave me a fresh desire to learn to live my life more like Christ.
Finally, I really appreciated his practical solutions. As much as I love reading about spiritual disciplines, there are times I find myself asking, “yes but- what does it actually look like to practice simplicity?? JMC gives countless examples of ways to live out the disciplines he’s recommending and I loovveedd that.
What I Struggled With…
I honestly struggled to believe him. I know what authors go through to write a book…it’s a hella-lotta hustle…and for him to also be a pastor and also have a podcast, I found myself wanting to email him and ask, “how can you possibly say you don’t hustle with ALL that work on your plate??” That said, JMC is very honest about his continued struggle with hurry. He doesn’t claim to never get caught up in it. He does, however, have a framework in place that helps him come back to the ground when life sweeps him up. And with these new practices in place his soul, in general, is at rest even when he’s working hard. So, ok… I suppose I’ll give him that.
I also found myself a bit overwhelmed with a new kind of “to-do” list as I read through his chapter on slowing our pace. In it, he lists 20 ways to slow down. These range from driving the speed limit to taking a whole day off each month for personal reflection. The sheer number of suggestions had my head swimming, but that wasn’t JMC’s intention. At the beginning of the chapter, he makes a point to say we shouldn’t try to do everything on the list. It’s merely meant to inspire thought and for us to pick and choose the practices that sound interesting and helpful to us. Even so, it was something I struggled with.
A Few of My Favorite Quotes…
“To restate: love, joy, and peace are at the heart of all Jesus is trying to grow in the soil of your life. And all three are incompatible with hurry.”
“Here’s my point: the solution to an overbusy life is not more time. It’s to slow down and simplify our lives around what really matters.”
“The end isn’t silence and solitude; it’s to come back to God and our true selves. It isn’t Sabbath; it’s a restful, grateful life of ease, appreciation, wonder, and worship. It isn’t simplicity: it’s freedom to focus on what matters most. It isn’t even slowing; it’s to be present, to God, to people, to the moment.”
Overall I’d give this book 4 stars out of 5! It was an enlightening, practical read that helped me fight back some of the hurry of our day. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with your pace of life this is a great read.
JMC and his buddy, Jefferson Bethke (who wrote a book called, “To Hell with the Hurry“), have a podcast called “Fight Hustle, End Hurry“. It’s only ten episodes long and shares some of the same concepts discussed in the book. It’s a great place to start if you aren’t ready to purchase the book.
Cheering you on, Mama!
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