Life is a marathon. So, why are we sprinting? – Part 3

Just a few weeks ago I sat in a heap of emotions and utter fatigue asking God to help me pull in the reigns on the pace at which my life was reeling.  I had to finally face the reality that I couldn’t wake up any earlier, stay up any later, work any faster, and no one was creating an auto-pilot vehicle feature anytime soon.   I needed to make some changes.

Change is difficult.  It is especially difficult when it involves disappointing others, facing our fears and false beliefs, and releasing what little control we thought we had.  Saying goodbye to busy,  demands that we make such changes!  I have had to say “no” to  a lot of people, activities, and opportunities.  I’ve had to give up doing good things  that were not  meaningful for this season of life.  I’ve had to give up things that I enjoy, but ultimately take away from the more important goals in my life; my life’s purpose.  Most importantly, I’ve had to be intentional about scheduling time for those things that are important to my purpose and provide me with the most fulfillment, but always seem to get pushed aside by the more urgent demands of the day.  If you want to say goodbye to feeling overwhelmed and being busy beyond your ability to manage, then you have to say “no” a little more and you have to make some changes too.  For me, in spite of the obvious need for change, I experienced guilt about minimizing busy, just so I could feel peaceful!  You may be iron-clad in your resolve and experience no guilt whatsoever in exercising your ‘no’ more, but in case you are like me, this is what helped me:

“And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done; and He rested on the seventh day…” (Gen 2:2, AMP)  If the all-powerful, almighty God took the time to rest, don’t you think you should too?  You absolutely should.  And do so unapologetically.  After a decade in the workforce, I decided that I would take no less than two consecutive weeks of vacation every year.  People are willing to wait a week to hear back on an issue, but in two weeks, they might figure it out themselves, or go elsewhere for help.  Also, our reporting periods ran in two-week increments; what was urgent two weeks ago, could very well be irrelevant by the time I got back.   If you aren’t in the habit of taking a vacation, learn to take an extended time away from work and the everyday demands of life in order to rest and relax!  We all need it.

As I read Genesis 2, something didn’t quite sit right with me, and perhaps you thought it too:  “…God ended His work which He had done.”  Verse one specifically says, “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished…” (verse 1, AMP).  God rested when his work was done!  Are you pushing off making the changes necessary to say goodbye to the busy in your life until some situation or season passes?  Until the work is finished?  Oh, thank God for Jesus!  In Luke 5, we learn that word of Jesus’ teaching and healing was spreading across the land, and large crowds of people kept coming to learn from Him and be healed by Him.  Right in the midst of the external pressure to perform, in spite of His compassionate heart and love for people, the bible says, “Jesus Himself  withdrew [in retirement] to the desert and prayed” (Luke 5:16).    There, we have permission to take time away in spite of the work that remains.  There will always be something going on in some area of your life.  Be intentional about taking times of solitude to not only rest and recover physically, but also to reconnect with God.  Jesus retreated from work to pray.  More than likely, He was praying for direction, clarity, and strength for His next assignment!  If we are going to get busy on purpose, we need to spend time in God’s presence.

Lastly, flip over to chapter 10 in Luke, and let’s look at two sisters.  Jesus accepted the invitation to dine at the home of His friend Martha.  The bible says Martha was “overly preoccupied, too busy, and distracted with much serving” (verse 40, AMP), while her sister Mary sat at the feet of Jesus and enjoyed His company.   When Martha ran to Jesus asking Him to have Mary help her, He answered “Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; there is need of only one thing.  Mary has chosen the good portion [that which is to her advantage], which shall not be taken away from her” (verse 41-42, AMP).   There are mental and emotional benefits to saying goodbye to busy, and exercising your ‘no’ more.  We don’t read anything about Mary experiencing anxiety or stress!  She was hanging out with friends and fellowshipping with Jesus!  Martha was stressed out and anxious, trying to complete many tasks, tasks that weren’t even necessary!  Did you catch that?  Jesus said “you are anxious and troubled about many things; There is only one thing.”  What are you doing right now that you feel is necessary, but actually may not be?

Because I like to help others, and I don’t like to disappoint friends, family, or colleagues, I tend to wrestle with decisions that impact my time, energy, and ability to enjoy the peace and fulfillment that follows a life ordered by God.  As you look at thought patterns and beliefs that drive you to busyness, and reconsider how you are spending your time, ask yourself what changes do you need to make?  Step away from the noise of a busy life, and take some time off for physical recovery and relaxation, for spiritual refreshing, and for mental and emotional wholeness.  Say “no”  more and do less.  It is possible to do less and accomplish more, when you are spending your time on the things that God requires of you.

I pray that this series has encouraged you to say goodbye to busy, avoid burn out, and finish this marathon we call life having the peace and fulfillment God has intended for you. If you haven’t already taken the challenge, go ahead:

  1. Ask yourself, “why am I so busy?”  Look at the reasons, the belief systems that fuel your busyness (fear of disappointing others, fear of missing out).
  2. Determine if you are too busy, operating daily at capacity (or beyond), by looking at indicators such as those listed in Part II.
  3. Log your time for a full week.  Look for areas of improvement (time wasters, life drainers, life sustainers).
  4. Make a plan and implement changes that allow you to be more intentional about nurturing yourself (vacation, spiritual retreat), feeding important relationships (family, social and recreation time), and working toward your purpose (ministry, vocational, volunteering, speaking).
  5. Pray and ask God for the wisdom, discernment, and courage to act at every step.

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