I have often jokingly said, “busyness is my drug of choice.” The reality is, this is no joke.
I have come to understand, busyness is one of the strategies I use to help me deny or ignore what I don’t want to deal with. And it works! The adrenaline rush of busyness can feel great – but only for so long. In fact, I’ve read adrenaline is only healthy for about 2 weeks at a stretch. After that, this gift of fight or flight begins to break down our immune system.
Therefore, if we don’t have healthy rhythms of work and rest, we will eventually hit the proverbial wall.
Like many of us in our adrenalin-driven culture, my life can be quite full of things to do. The crazy thing is, I can find myself feeling keyed up even when things around me are relatively calm. My mind is quite capable of keeping me on edge with the “if only’s,” the “what if’s,” or just mulling over my to do list. This inner agitation makes it hard for me to be fully present to God, to others, and even myself. I know this is not God’s desire for me as His invitation to rest is all over the Bible. This isn’t about sleeping more, although sometimes we do need to pay attention to our need for physical rest. This divine invitation to rest is grounded in our relationship with the Lord, and can even be found during busy and/or stormy seasons of life.
You will keep in perfect peace, all who trust in You,
all whose thoughts are fixed on You!
It has been helpful for me to understand my tendency to use busyness as the great escape. I don’t like conflict or unpleasant feelings, and for years, avoidance seemed to serve me well.
I now know the effort it takes to deny the very real things I don’t want to deal with in my life, in my heart, takes a serious toll on me, emotionally, relationally, physically and spiritually. But God, in His graciousness, has taught me (is still teaching me) to S-L-O-W down, to fix my heart on Him, and find the elusive peace I crave, which of course is only found in Him.
He knows when I am all wound up it drains my capacity to enjoy the present moment, distracts me from taking pleasure in those right in front of me, and robs me of fully enjoying and feeling safe in His presence.
God is patiently schooling me in the spiritual discipline of s-l-o-w-i-n-g.
It is challenging as we live in a consumer-driven, 24-hour news cycle, social media-obsessed, technology-gripped, pleasure-oriented culture which all threaten to distract and deter us from being present at any given moment. There are many antidotes we can embrace, but making time for silence and solitude in my life has been critical.
These two things – silence and solitude – have helped me rest, refuel, and recover my life in many ways.
Simply read Isaiah and you’ll find we humans have always had the proclivity to climb on our horses and run, run, run. This is nothing new! Yet God in His mercy, continues to offer a better way.
This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:
“In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength,
but you would have none of it.
You said, ‘No, we will flee on horses.’
Therefore you will flee!
You said, ‘We will ride off on swift horses.’
Therefore your pursuers will be swift!
A thousand will flee at the threat of one;
at the threat of five you will all flee away,
till you are left like a flagstaff on a mountaintop,
like a banner on a hill.”
Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;
therefore He will rise up to show you compassion.
For the Lord is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for Him!
So how about you? Can you relate? I invite you to share your journey of slowing down in the comments!
- Take a deep breath and let your soul settle. Read the Isaiah passage above prayerfully asking God show you where you like to flee in order to find strength and salvation. Self-reflection is good if it helps us shed our unhealthy ways and grow closer to God.
- Read the passage again and list what God has for us as we wait for Him. What in particular speaks to your restless heart?
- Slowing down will look different for each of us since we all have unique personalities and are living in different seasons of life. What would it look like for you to slow down and unplug (who knew unplugging ourselves would be a thing)? Becoming more mindful in the moment, even by simply taking a few deep breaths, can go a long way to grounding us in the awareness of the presence of God.The best part in all of these practices of slowing down is learning it is good to rest in God.