When people ask you how you are, does “I’m so busy” roll off your tongue without second thought? Have you ever felt like there’s simply not enough time in the day to accomplish all of your tasks? Have you had a feeling of defeat at the end of a long, hard day when you didn’t get it all done? Have you experienced it for an extended period of time? This was my reality for a long time.
At the end of a busy fall portrait season, I found myself feeling very run down and exhausted. The thought that I would get to do it again left me feeling a bit suffocated. I asked myself, “Is this really what I get to do with my life?”
I felt worse as doubt crept in and I started questioning if I could keep up with the demands of my life. I tried shrugging it off since this is the “norm”, I thought, but I continued to wrestle with this. I can’t pinpoint exactly when, but I felt a Heavenly thought deposited into my mind encouraging me to rest.
I never gave myself permission to rest by the choices I made and priorities I set for my life. I was always on. Between homeschooling my children, maintaining my home, volunteering at church, and running a part-time business, I never got to rest. If I did get to sit and rest physically, my mind was racing down the to-do list and all the things I could be accomplishing instead of sitting. Or I would indulge and later in the evening beat myself up for not getting x-y-z done.
I had no time to rest. I was too busy to rest. I had to be available to the endless list of to-do’s in my life.
Rest was not part of my vocabulary, but I figured it would not hurt to rest a bit as a reward for my hard work. I thought allowing myself to sleep until 6 am for a month would silence the thought.
After a month of sleeping in, I was ready to jump back to my normal early wake ups, but I couldn’t do it. This was unusual given that I was up like clockwork every morning.
The message continued like a nagging, yet gentle, parent: rest, nurture, slow down, be available, stop striving.
I had no idea how much striving was consuming my life.
I halfheartedly surrendered because the encouragement to rest was popping up everywhere and I couldn’t ignore it.
The slowdown I experienced was confusing but the further I allowed myself to sink into it, the greater the peace I experienced within myself.
Just like winter doesn’t skip over the trees dropping their leaves, I was not skipping back to work until I dropped some harmful patterns.
Around that same time I came across this passage:
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me–watch how I do t. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG)
It was like someone gave me a nice cold drink on a hot summer day. I felt something melt away in me and the other half of my heart caved. The invitation to live freely and lightly was so appealing!
But then I had to do the work–evaluating my life along with everything I had stuffed into it, dumping it all out, and picking up the things that fit back in with plenty of room to breathe. I wrote a bit on the GT Church Blog about my inner struggle and the work as well as not being busy.
While it’s been well over a year since it all clicked and I started making the necessary changes. I have never loved my life more than the one I am living right now. It feels amazing having time for the things that I want to do, the people that I love, and the life I am meant to live. Busy didn’t break me.
I know there’s many of you who are so busy and wish you weren’t.
Are you going to bed satisfied with your rhythm of life? Are you tired and worn out? Are you running out of time to do the things you enjoy and love, the activities that fulfill you? Are you so busy taking care of everyone else that you end up neglecting yourself? Does living a life “freely and lightly” appeal to you?
It is possible that this is your year to give your life a new rhythm. In my next post, I’ll be sharing about the pain of letting go and the reward of doing so.