The Hurricane Habit

Don’t be a victim of activity.

When Satan cannot make you bad, he makes you busy.

— Corrie ten Boom

Shaking and shuddering like an untrained colt under a new saddle, our roof threatened to sprout wings and take flight.  Ninety mph gusts roared over our house like a lovesick lion.  My family and I rode out the tempest—which eventually blew itself out to sea—and listened.

The experience got me thinking.  When was the last time I heard God’s voice?  How loud must He holler until I hear?  Does it take a hurricane howl to snag my attention?  I’m not deaf –  just distracted.  You know, BUSY.

Between church work, extracurricular activities, household management, volunteer responsibilities and homeschooling three of four sons, I sometimes feel like I’m drowning in “busy.”  Ring any bells?  Don’t get me wrong.  There’s nothing wrong with being busy or immersed in ministry, unless:

  • You’re constantly on the run, feeling overworked, up tight, and out of breath.
  • Your once-quiet, attentive spirit has morphed into a jostling  jacuzzi on overdrive.
  • One nudge of your clogged calendar results in oozing resentment, impatience and angst.
  • Every childish “interruption” results in irritation.
  • Too much to do and too little time impairs your ability to hear—and respond.
  • You chafe at red lights and squirm at sitting still.
  • Your “joy-o-meter” registers Empty.
  • Weeds of worry and anxiety choke out petals of peace and tranquility.
  • You regard an occasionally dawdling child as a major annoyance.
  • The curtain drops on your day and you can’t remember where you’ve been, what you’ve done, or why.
  • You’re demanding, argumentative, and snappish.
  • Feelings of burn-out, boredom, and “the blues” sprout like fireworks on the Fourth of July.

Sound familiar?  (Ouch.)  Is it time to make some changes?  If so, try these:

  1. Slow down.  Look in the mirror, take a deep breath and be honest.   Tell yourself what everyone else already knows:  I am too busy.  No excuses.  No rationalizing.  If you’re overbooked, overworked and overrun, admit it.
  2. Learn to say “No.” Say it out loud if you have to: “N-O.”  Just two letters.  It won’t kill you.  While you’re at it, prioritize.  Flustered and frenzied isn’t fulfilling.  If practicable, rotate responsibilities and share workloads.
  3. Quit measuring your worth by the crowdedness of your calendar.  If an activity or assignment isn’t absolutely necessary, eliminate it.
  4. Stop flying solo. Don’t try to do it all yourself.   Delegate.  Team up.    Ask for help.  “Many hands make light work” isn’t just a quaint, old-fashioned adage – it’s true!  (So is the converse, incidentally.)
  5. Resist the temptation to trade one role or responsibility for another.  It’s easy to think you’re “cutting back” by curtailing time and energy in one area while picking up more in another.  Don’t play that game.  When you stop juggling one “ball” to  grab another – or several – you still have too many balls in the air.  
  6. Pace yourself. Life is a marathon, not a sprint.  Set aside one day a week to rest.   Dedicate this day to nurturing your family and your faith.  Turn off the TV.  Get out a board game.  Have a family sing-a-long.  Ride bikes.  Go for a walk.  Memorize the Books of the Bible together.   Enjoy a sunset.  Check out a new book.  You may even consider taking a nap.  (I know, I know.  Talking a whole day off for R&R  may sound “irresponsible” at first.  But give it a chance.  You’ll be amazed at how much more effective you are in the long run.)
  7. Remember how to laugh, play, enjoy your family and do something totally nuts every now and then without apologizing or checking your wristwatch every two minutes!

The Lord Jesus Christ said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28, 30 NIV).

I bet there are plenty of Christian “activity addicts” who’d love to stop “churning and burning.”   If this describes you, slow down long enough to consider that breaking the “hurricane habit” doesn’t take a tornado—just the Truth.

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