Slowly simmer, for life


If ever there was a dirty word in the kitchen, for me, it’s this one.

Boil. Now there’s a word I get. Turn the heat way up, walk away and in a few minutes, action. Boiling gets the job done quickly. When a recipe says to “simmer,” I find myself impatiently watching the pot for signs of movement. This was the case a few days ago while I was making cream of broccoli soup. It turned out less thick than I would have liked. I’m not sure I ever simmered it properly. I was in too much of a hurry.

I have the same problem with life. I’m a point A to point B kind of girl, who once she gets to point B is often on to points C, D and E. This troubles me. Especially since I’m sure I’m missing some prime moments.

In Sunday School, we’re working through John Ortberg’s video series “The Life You’ve Always Wanted,” which teaches about spiritual disciplines. I was challenged one week by the admonition Ortberg once received and passed on to us: You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.

I tend to be in a hurry, even when I have no reason to be. When the kids and I are walking around the block, I’m in a hurry to get home, which is in direct conflict with my kids who would rather pick up EVERY stick and rock and dandelion they see. My son is a collector. He stuffs his pockets with souvenirs from our trips around the block. I have to give myself an anti-pep talk on our walks, convincing myself that we don’t have to hurry around the block. Part of me is afraid something will happen while we’re out. Part of me just wants to rush the day along so I can rest and do what I want to do instead of being asked a dozen times if I want to play ballet school or with the Dora dollhouse.

Selfish, I know. Parenting is exhausting, though, and even people with full-time jobs get breaks now and then. (Disregard this digression. I’m tired. My husband has had two full days of classes and meetings at the seminary. I’m running out of ways to keep the kids occupied and to cope with the solo parenting.)

Eight months. That’s how long we have until the next “next” in our life. And I find myself wanting to rush to get there, just to know what it’s going to be. Isabelle keeps asking where she’s going to go to school and where we’re going to live. I have no answers.

Eight months is a long time to simmer. But just like the adage “a watched pot never boils,” I suspect the same can be applied to life. A watched life, if you will, never amounts to much. Lord willing, May will arrive. What I do with the time between now and then will determine the quality of the life I have in the meantime.

I really don’t do simmer well, but I want my life to be full and flavorful, like a soup that has cooked slowly and incorporated all the individual ingredients into a delicious meal.

Slow. Eliminate hurry. Enjoy the moments as they come.

These are my goals. Now, how do I do it?

Ortberg gave a few suggestions, like standing in the longest line at the grocery store, but what are some other antidotes to hurry?

How do you “ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life”? And what benefits have you seen from slowing your life?


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