This morning my mind is still fixed on a question my small group asked last week. “Doesn’t the word immediately contradict the phrase fighting hurry?” I had just told our group about a podcast series I’ve been listening to called “Fight Hustle, End Hurry” and shared that I also recently discovered in the first chapter of Mark, he uses the word immediately ten times. I love questions that make you pause for thought. After thinking on this, I realize it doesn’t contradict it at all.
Immediately is actually a key word that can unlock one of the main reasons why we hurry. We hurry because we don’t have enough time. And usually we don’t have enough time because we didn’t do something we needed to do when we needed to do it. We procrastinated. Most people who procrastinate are very busy people. We are just busy with the wrong stuff.
Instead of immediately doing what really needs to be done when it needs to be done, we focus our attention on tasks of lower priority, using them as escapist behaviors. Then when it almost becomes too late to accomplish those things which are most important, we hurry to complete them, often rushing around like crazy people. (And making the people around us crazy as well!)
I have discovered one of the main underlying reasons for procrastination is fear. Not the kind of fear you experience when there is physical danger; that is a healthy fear your mind initiates to keep you safe.
The fear I’m referring to is that of getting it wrong or not doing it perfectly the first time. Or the fear of failing and the embarrassment that accompanies it. Perhaps there is even fear of succeeding and not knowing what to do next. Fear of criticism, often from myself or others. Fear of rejection, of not living up to expectations—both mine and from others. And then there is the fear of the unknown. It can stall us every time. There are so many different ways fear can be a motivator to our actions or inaction. Fear is a small word, but it can have a big impact.
It would be great if we could say, “Just don’t procrastinate.” But it’s not that easy. Not only because it could mean we have to stop and acknowledge the fear, which often takes time and the help of others, but it’s actually hard to break the behavior of procrastination because we are accustomed to the hurry. Our bodies begin to crave the “rush” we get from the rush. We are addicted to hurry.
There are groups to help with most addictions, and there is probably one for those addicted to hurry. If there isn’t, maybe there should be. But in lieu of going to a group or starting one, I have found Mark’s word immediately to be most beneficial.
I have discovered the word immediately actually displaces the fear. It doesn’t necessarily get rid of it, but it renders it ineffective. It takes the fear captive by giving me something else to focus on. When I reflect on the word immediately, it prompts me not to put off, but to step into action — to begin to develop a life of responsive obedience. It makes me stop and ask the Lord, “What really needs to be done right now?” and then practice submitting as the Spirit redirects my thoughts to that which is most important and of highest priority. Immediately is a word God uses to reorder our steps. Now. Not two days or two hours from now, but now.
When we respond immediately to that which is of highest priority, it starts to eliminate procrastination, hurry and rushing in our lives. Soon our rhythm begins to change as we experience the peace of this new pace, and our bodies start rejecting hurry instead of craving it. Before long, we begin to feel very uncomfortable with the thought of hurry and at odds with the stress it causes and the physical ailments that ensue.
Without even realizing it has happened, we have experienced a paradigm shift called transformation. By refocusing our thoughts and responding to the Spirit’s promptings, not only have our actions changed but our desires as well. We have moved from procrastination to peace, from chaos to calm, all because of one word, God’s word - Immediately.