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What is Your Capacity?

Another way to consider the health or unhealthy of our “hustle” is to reassess our true capacity. Jodi Grubbs shares her perspective.


What is Your Capacity?

By Jodi Grubbs

I was born and raised on Bonaire, a small Dutch island in the Netherlands Antilles, which is part of the southern Caribbean. My father worked in finance for Trans World Radio, a global Christian media organization.

We did not have a traffic light on the island. I vividly remember being behind a car whose driver stopped to talk to another driver. Both men leaned in toward open windows, smiling, carrying on. And guess what? My dad and I had to just wait to drive on until their conversation was done. While that might be unthinkable in bustling cities, it was a way of life on Bonaire. We called this pace poco-poco. It is a connection; the in-between of here to there. A slowness that is built into this salty air culture.

What I did not know when I left the island at age sixteen was that I would wrestle with two different cultures over the next three decades. One would try to pull me into the land of hurry. I did not know that the grounding and lifesaving culture that gave me breath in my formative years would be one I would struggle to hold onto, like fine beach sand slipping through my fingers.

Not every culture hustles.

Culture defines the ways we view each other and what our expectations and demands are of one another. Often, here in the US, we have an idea that there is no option but to push hard and fast, to accommodate others in this fast-paced world while ignoring our own aches and slow unraveling. We believe others want us to move quickly and say yes to unrealistic requests. Examining who and what is telling us to hurry is an important step in taking back agency in our lives. Understanding our capacity is a good starting point.

We often believe the lie that speed is the only way to move through life or to get ahead. But really, who is keeping you from slowing down? It is a unique dance between others’ expectations and what we perceive and believe in our own minds. We are afraid that we may be “left behind” or forgotten, like a small child stopping to see every animal at the zoo. But in reality, slowing down is a radical act of courage as we work to unlearn previous beliefs.

The burnout in trying to do more than we have capacity for is part of the price we are paying for believing the lie that we need to do it all to be strong, competent humans.

There are many myths about slowing down. We aren’t allowed to rest because that is laziness. No one will come forward to take the job you just walked away from, so you are needed. Everything must be done today. You’re letting everybody down. Boundaries are selfish.

Here are some truths about slowing down: Slow down and your passions that have been tucked in for too long will start to emerge. Your body will pick up on the cues that it’s safe to start recovering and replenishing. You’ll start seeing people in front of you in a totally different way. Your world and the hidden beauty all around you will come alive! You will recover your one precious life and create space for the things that really matter to you and your family.

When the pain of being weary and worn out is greater than the fear of missing out or letting someone down, you know you have started the biggest shift of all toward slower living.

Productivity has looked different in many places around the world during various centuries. This idea of faster and more started to really come about in the United States during the Second Industrial Revolution.

Something inside of you knows you were made for so much more, but the definition of more has become skewed because of the low-hanging clouds of smoke billowing from the hub of the often-invisible machine.

We are in our own timeline, not aware that outside of the factory, the rest of the world doesn’t necessarily run like this.

Understanding your own capacity will help you shift to slow living.

While it’s honorable to have open hands and want to help others, getting a proper perspective on how your body and mind are doing is important. If you are trying to determine whether you have the bandwidth, the energy, and the capacity to say yes to something new or last minute, visualizing a container that holds your capacity is super helpful and gives you a truer picture. My visualization of capacity is from my growing up years on Bonaire:

  • Tiny – a scallop shell

  • Small – a coconut

  • Medium – a pitcher

  • Large – a bucket

By keeping my soul on island time while living in the city, I have relearned how to thrive from a place of rest. It’s more in line with the way God made me. And I want this for you too.


Adapted from Live Slowly: A Gentle Invitation to Exhale by Jodi H. Grubbs. ©2024 by Jodi Heather Grubbs. Used by permission of InterVarsity Press.


Jodi H. Grubbs is the podcast host of Our Island in the City and a slow-living advocate. Her most recent book is Live Slowly: A Gentle Invitation to Exhale. She is also the author of a children’s book, The Island Adventures of Lili and Oliver, and coauthor of a Bible study called The Friendship Café. Jodi, her husband, Dean, and their daughter, Lili, live in Garner, North Carolina. Connect with Jodi at or on Instagram @Jodi.Grubbs


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