Written by:
Connor Kenaston

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The Art of Stopping

By Connor Kenaston

“Slow down, you move too fast / You got to make the morning last /
Just kicking down the cobble stones / Looking for fun and feelin’ groovy.”
(59th Street Bridge Song, Simon & Garfunkle)

What’s the first thing you did when you woke up this morning? If your answer included checking your phone, we have that in common! Sometimes you just have to laugh at the ridiculousness of our tech-obsessed world. One of my favorite examples is the existence of smartphone apps to limit smartphone usage. “Wait, what?!” you may ask. Yes, many of us have become so addicted to our phones that we have employed our phones to help break us of our addiction. And yes, I do use an app to limit my Facebook usage, and I’m not ashamed. Or at least not THAT ashamed.

I’m probably happiest in those moments when I step out of the endless cycle of busyness

I’ve realized that for me personally, phone usage is rooted in something bigger: a desire to be busy. I pull out my phone whenever there’s a lull in my usually packed schedule, like when I’m stuck eating by myself, waiting in the doctor’s office, or (sorry in advance) using the restroom. Perhaps this desire to be busy is tied to my need to feel important (e.g. “I must answer this email immediately because people are depending on me!”). Or perhaps it’s tied to my need to feel liked (e.g. “Look at all these people I’m friends with… I’m definitely not lonely!”).

And yet, I’m probably happiest in those moments when I step out of the endless cycle of busyness—when I turn off my phone (ok, maybe it’s just on silent) and allow my mind to be still. It’s those peaceful moments while hiking or camping, playing my guitar, or even simply hanging out with friends or my church family that I’m able to best commune with God. In those moments, I reflect on what’s important and recalibrate my values to match God’s values.

“Therefore, since the promise that we can enter into rest is still open, let’s be careful so that none of you will appear to miss it.” (Hebrews 4:1, CEB)

During my freshmen year of college, I attended Shabbat dinner almost every Friday night with several of my Jewish friends. Shabbat dinner was a weekly reminder of the joys of good food, song, and life together. One phrase that the rabbi used has stuck with me until today: he referred to “Shabbat,” the Hebrew equivalent of Sabbath, as “the art of stopping.” To truly observe Sabbath, we must first stop. For some, this may be as simple as turning off your phone or computer, while for others it may mean setting aside time with family or friends. But like Christians and Jews for thousands of years, we must start to stop because it’s in the stopping and entering into God’s rest that new life can flourish.

Question for Reflection: How do you practice Sabbath? What are ways that you might begin to stop?