Overcoming Hurry Sickness
Hurry sickness. It is prevalent in our society. It is hard to overcome. We are constantly connected, continually distracted, commonly interrupted and continuously hurried. I am a very public figure. I have written books and speak in conferences all over the world. I get Twitter messages, Facebook messages, Instagram messages, emails and phone calls from people I don’t know every day. It is impossible to keep up. And that doesn’t count all of the people I do know who are trying to get in touch with me!
Sometimes hurry sickness feels like pressure. Internalized pressure. Never ending deadlines. Always more to do. More emails to answer. More phone calls to return. More talks to write. More people to meet. More places to go. More books to write. It never ends.
Sometimes hurry sickness feels like distraction. My mind is racing. I can't focus. I can't be quiet. I can’t settle down and settle in. I can’t be still and know that He is God. I can’t be present to the people that I love.
Sometimes hurry sickness feels like disturbance. There is a disturbance in the force within. There is annoyance, impatience and unrest. There isn’t enough space in my schedule for replenishment. There isn’t enough space in my soul for peace. There isn’t enough space in my head for attentiveness.
So how do we overcome this modern epidemic disease of the soul?
Silence helps. I need to include healthy doses of silence in my regular routine. Silence slows the pace of my soul. It helps me refocus, replenish, and refuel. Silence allows me to access God’s restorative presence. It calls me back to abiding as the priority over fruitbearing. It reminds me I am a human being not a human doing. Silence recalibrates my heartbeat.
Gratitude helps. A lot. I have been meditating on Psalm 116 frequently these days. The Psalmist was likely sick unto death, his soul was worried and anxious. He calls on the Lord and the Lord delivers him. It is v. 7 that has captured my heart: “Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.” (ESV) When we lose sight of the Lord’s bounty, we lose our rest. When we lose sight of the Lord’s bounty for our current circumstances, we lose our peace. Hurry sickness causes us to easily lose sight of the Lord’s bounty. Slowing down to take stock of the Lord’s bounty and to give thanks returns our soul to rest.
Nature helps. After many a hurried week in the pastorate I would go out for a walk in the woods or through a field or along the water with my wife and family. I would breathe in the fresh air, take note of the beauty of nature and give thanks. Grateful walks in nature are restorative to my soul.
Laughter helps. Schedule some unhurried time with friends. I know, you’re too busy, you have too much to do. The work will wait. Set some time with friends with whom you laugh freely. Take the time to enjoy them, enjoy a good laugh over an unhurried evening and drink in the goodness of life. It will help restore your soul.
Saying no helps. A number of years ago I started getting a lot more invitations and I realized I was going to have to say no more than I said yes. What do you say no to? What do you say yes to? We have to learn how to focus. I came up with a grid that fit my calling: I was called to renewal, and I would fulfill that calling through writing, speaking, equipping and mentoring. I was primarily to work with pastors and churches that could influence an entire region. This clarity grid allowed me to quickly decide on invitations. If an invitation didn’t fit my calling and my clarity grid, the answer was no - unless the Lord clearly said yes to me. Create a grid that fits your life and priorities for the Kingdom. And stick to it.
Hurry sickness. It may be the greatest killer of kingdom impact in our generation. We must overcome it or we will never see what God could do; we will only accomplish what we can do with all of our hurried human efforts.