As most of you probably know, 2016 is my Year of Rest. The last few years of my life have been extremely full, busy, stretching, and exhausting. While I don’t regret those years of hard work and persistence, I knew I needed to cut back so I can refresh, renew, rejuvenate, and focus inward on my family. Because of this, I’m saying no to a lot things.
This has been a very new journey and adventure for me. It has been a very good thing, but I want to honestly admit a truth. It has also been hard for me. I have learned that I have an addiction…
I have an addiction to busyness.
I have become addicted to activity, and I am struggling with letting go of the busyness.
Case in point, I was supposed to speak at a local event two weeks ago, but it got canceled . So instead of being gone all morning at the local event, I was home all morning. Everything else planned for that day had also gotten cancelled due to the snow.
By early afternoon, I’d finished everything on my list for the day and I had a 3 or 4 hour block of time in the afternoon with absolutely no plans. I felt out of sorts, like something was wrong. And I started to feel very intent about filling up that empty space in my day.
I felt stressed and jittery — almost like I was having withdrawal symptoms. I didn’t know how to just sit still and relish the quiet. I began brainstorming the projects I should tackle and the blog posts I should write. I even wrote out a long list of things I was thinking I really “should” do with the extra time.
And then it hit me: I have an entirely free afternoon. I didn’t need to and shouldn’t have to fill up all the nooks and crannies in my schedule with more to-do’s or busyness or productivity. I could just rest. I could just relax. It was entirely okay to have space in my schedule to breathe, to do something fun, to just hang out with my family.
But it also hit me so clearly: I have become addicted to busyness. I feel better and more fulfilled when I’m busy. I don’t know how to do quiet well — especially when it’s unexpected. I feel like something’s almost wrong or out-of-order if there are blank spaces in my calendar.
I’ve been thinking about this and asking myself these questions:
- Is my worth coming from what I do?
- Is my value tied up in how much I get done?
- Do I feel more fulfilled when I have more on my calendar? Does it make me feel special, worthy, or valuable?
I recently read the book , and I read a section the other day that really impacted me.
“…As I watched him, I wondered how many moments like this I had missed with my own children simply because I was in a hurry. Too often, I had expected them to match my pace, rather than slowing down to accommodate theirs. It’s one of my greatest regrets. If I could have a do-over, I would commit to less so that I could slow down and enjoy more. More moments rocking my babies, more moments spent standing over their cribs or beds and watching them sleep, more time to answer their bazillion curious questions, more little baby steps from the car to the house, more focused attention on what they were saying without finishing their sentences. I’ve yet to meet empty nesters who regret not being busier in those years or wish they had sped through those years a bit faster. Not one.”
The author then quotes John Ortberg from his book :
“Hurry is not just a disordered schedule. Hurry is a disordered heart.”
This hit me SO hard, because I realized that I have had a disordered heart. I have been chasing after more. It was good stuff. It was producing more products, writing more blog posts, speaking at more events, helping more people, making more of an impact.
But more is not always better. In the process of chasing after more of that good stuff, I became addicted to that chase, to that busyness, to my calendar being full, and to feeling like I’m doing a lot of good stuff.
But that’s not where my worth lies. I don’t want to be filling up that emptiness in my life with something that could be destructive and unhealthy.
I think we sort of elevate certain addictions as being worse than others. While we judge people for their addictions, we deem other addictions — like busyness — as being socially acceptable. Really, though, addictions all come from the same spot — we are trying to fill up an empty hole that can only be filled by God.
All addictions can be unhealthy and destructive. It doesn’t matter what you’re addicted to.
I want to let my soul breathe. I want to spend more time resting in those quiet places and embracing that empty space in my schedule. This really challenged me, and I wanted to challenge all of you with this.
I’m a work in progress. I don’t have this all sorted out or settled. But I think acknowledging that I have an addiction to busyness is the first step in my journey to recovery.
P.S. You can where I share more about this and share some honest and vulnerable thoughts .