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My Addiction: Some Honest Thoughts

My Addiction: Some Honest Thoughts

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 .

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61 Comments

  • Mylynda says:

    Thank you for sharing your heart with all of us. What you are sharing is bound to encourage and help someone else, as well. I will be praying for you as you walk through this journey. I have been in very similar shoes. At one point during my youngest daughter’s 2nd year of life, I found myself working an average of 80 hours a week. I am a paramedic and I thought that I would be considered lazy if I didn’t work every time they asked me to. It’s a relief to know and accept that God wants us to REST. I am so glad that you are gonna take this time to discipline yourself to rest. If you catch yourself needing to make a “plan”, you can just get creative about different ways to rest and schedule them. Just kidding! Spontaneous relaxation is the best! I always feel a little guilty but only a little. You deserve it. God uses you in mighty ways, Crystal. I will be praying for you to rest, recharge and go steady.

  • says:

    So many people deal with this. Society teaches us if we aren’t busy, then we’re not living up to our fullest potential. Something must be wrong with us if we don’t have way too much going on. I feel like we don’t ever have that much going on and I actually feel left out because we’re not super busy like other families. Our kids have never been able to do something extra curricular outside of church. We really don’t do much running around because this town is small. Honestly, I wish we had more to do, but when I see the stress others are dealing with because of crazy schedules, I try to tell myself that it’s best this way. I don’t always believe it, but I do say it.

    I don’t want to be frazzled and stressed, but too much breathing room makes me feel like I’ll go crazy.

    I’m glad you’re learning to chill. Super driven people do have to learn to do things that are fun or relaxing, which isn’t the least bit practical and goes against their nature. It’s good though, to learn to rest and have nothing to do.

    • Jo says:

      Thanks so much for your sweet encouragement, Keelie! You are a blessing!

    • Amy says:

      Wow, I could have said so much of your comment myself! I have actually felt left out or like I wasn’t doing enough because my kids are not as busy as my friends’ kids are, or I don’t have as much going on as my friends do. But when I step back and analyze their lives, they are stressed out much of the time and don’t seem all that happy! I will take my quiet, slow life any day 🙂

      • says:

        I’m on the fence about it. 🙂 I’m a complete extrovert, so a quiet life is hard for me.

        • Debi Z says:

          Yes! Me too. I have never been about getting a ton of stuff done but I do love being on the go because it is fun 🙂 As a mom with kids 3-23, I do regret not being more intentional with my time. I do wish I would have spent more time enjoying my older kids. But I also wish I had had a plan and not let the time just slide by. So, for me, having time to play Uno or sit with my kids is something I now schedule. Otherwise I just binge watch tv, read, or take naps 🙂 As Michael Hyatt would say, I am more a drifter than driven. I am learning to design my days 😉

  • Mrs. W says:

    Thanks for sharing your struggles! The thing that has helped me in my own life as a Christian is to see what God wants me to focus on in my life. My to do list might be overwhelming long, but looking at Titus 2 I see that God’s to do list for me is relatively short- love my husband, love my children and keep my house. When I focus on these three things, I know that I am doing what really matters in life and I am a lot less worn out. You can’t get too busy with other activities before these three priorities given to us by God start to slide.

  • Andrea says:

    Very well said Crystal! I too have set the goal of slowing down for this year and the first month of this year was relaxing and enjoyable because of the quietness that I actively chose.

  • says:

    “Addictions all come from the same spot — we are trying to fill up an empty hole that can only be filled by God.”

    You shared powerful truths in this article, Crystal. Lots of food for thought that I’ll be chewing on for days.

  • Jessica says:

    Yes, we all do. I was hoping you’d say that you pulled out your knitting though! 🙂

  • says:

    Hmm…There is a lot of truth in this post. I can definitely relate to it. I have the problem, that I always have so many things that I think I need to do, that any moment of free time is not enjoyed, just filled with more stuff. Thanks for this- I will definitely take the time to examine my heart motives.

  • Juli says:

    Awesome article.
    Completely resonates with me. I also expect my husband to match my busyness!:( He favors the moment and it stressss me out. Thanks for this challenge this am.

    Also where did you get your rug?

  • Juli says:

    Awesome article.
    Completely resonates with me. I also expect my husband to match my busyness!:( He favors the moment and it stressss me out. Thanks for this challenge this am. And thank you for your transparency.

    Also where did you get your rug?

  • Laura says:

    Have you heard Jonny Diaz’s song “Breathe”? It came on KLove this morning and it was exactly what I needed to be reminded of.

  • Leah says:

    I don’t mean to be harsh at all, but I think you may be being a little too hard on yourself. I’m not sure why you were supposed to be happy with 3-4 hours with nothing to do? That sounds totally boring!! If you like to be active (since busy has apparently become a bad word now, lol!! I know my mom would have disagreed with that when I was growing up 🙂 ), why not choose some family or fun activities? Go out and build a snowman and then make hot chocolate. Have everyone snuggle up in the living room to read for a few hours. Play a game. Go for a walk.

    I also don’t like to have nothing to do, but I don’t think my life is disordered or that I’m missing times with my family, because I choose plenty of family or fun activities when I’m not working. Being ‘busy’ hardly means never spending time with your family or having any fun. (Or even relaxing, for that matter! Reading is relaxing. Watching a movie is relaxing. Heck, you could even plan to take a nap!) Liking to have something to do is a personality, not an addiction. You just need to be careful about what activities you are choosing to keep yourself busy. 🙂

    • Jo says:

      Yes! We ended up having a fun family afternoon hanging out and then Jesse and I watched some shows together. It was wonderful… after I worked through the fact that it was okay to just rest. 🙂

  • Jennifer says:

    Thanks so much for sharing this! I have the same addiction, or you could also call it an idol. I idolize my to-do list because by it I think I am saved or fulfilled. If you get a chance, add “Biblical Productivity” by CJ Mahaney to your reading list!

  • Meegan says:

    Ooh girl… amen and amen!

  • Amanda Sei says:

    I am addicted to business too! I work 2 jobs, attend grad school and am always just busy. But I recently became pregant. I never knew i could be so tired! I am not able to do everything now and the pregnancy forced me to slow down. I dropped out of grad school, try not to say yes to new things as much and learned how to let go of control and have others help! Its been a big wake up call for me – slowdown and figure out my true priorities (since I only have so much energy in my day now)!

  • Christy says:

    Love the article. We have three children that I homeschool and I get so caught up in getting everything done that I forget to enjoy the time with my kids. By the way, you are excelling with your lettering! My 12 yr old daughter is crafty and I’m thinking that might be a good activity to do with her.

  • says:

    Wow, Crystal. Love your honesty. This is huge for you to be real about this! You are such a role model and God is changing hearts through this post I’m SURE. 🙂 I too have to work HARD at this, which is why one of my goals for this year was a specific goal about rest. Glad to see I’m not the only one!

    By the way, here’s that post!

  • Jen says:

    Thanks so much for sharing your heart and being so transparent. I think we have an addiction as a culture to being really busy. This summer I went on a church camping trip where there was no cell reception. I was only there for a day and a half, but I remember feeling so lost as I had forgotten my watch. I had nothing on my to do list except sitting by a beautiful river soaking up sunshine and watching my kids play. It was the most restful time I have had in years and it really helped me realize just how much of the time I spend looking at the clock and running around from one thing to the next. Those moments of being still and resting are so restorative to our souls! Glad God gave you that extra time!

  • Kristin says:

    I totally understand how you feel. I was laid off from my job 3 years ago. The first day I was home, after I sent everyone else out the door for school/work, I just about had a panic attack because I had A WHOLE DAY WITH NOTHING TO DO.

    Even now, when I am doing something “restful,” I feel like I should be doing something more productive. I am trying to get over this. If I don’t rest, I can’t do the things I need to do.

    This essay I came across a few years ago has an interesting perspective on busy-ness:

  • Jill says:

    So good Crystal! And I can relate. Thanks, as always, for sharing your heart. You are such an encouragement to me.

  • Ruth says:

    You are very brave to admit this publicly. Thank you and may you find rest & quiet this year.

  • Mistie says:

    Thank you for sharing this. I was impacted by your comments in another way. Our family has been intentional about not following our society’s norms of being busy all the time. Because of this, we have been looked at as being “not with it”, “not social enough”, and maybe even “not as interesting” as others. (Sometimes even seen as “lazy” or “non-productive”.)We have truly enjoyed the benefits of living a slower life and have seen it as an answer to prayer to our past very stressed and striving life. I worry about many others who never can seem to slow down and just be. It is truly worth the effort to cultivate a quiet heart and be at home with just being. 🙂 You are so smart to identify and work through areas of your life you are concerned about! May we all do the same!

  • Michele says:

    As I was doing my bible reading a few weeks ago, I noticed that God gave more details to the 2nd (you shall not make idols) and the 4th (remember the Sabbath and keep it holy) commandments than the others. It caused me to reflect. If I am busy making idols, I’m not going to do very well with remembering the Sabbath and honoring God with my rest. It is easier to lose perspective. If I remember the Sabbath and keep it holy (rest), I will be less likely to be bowing down to the busyness of things that I can easily make idols of.

  • Kristy says:

    Hi, Crystal. Thanks for sharing this. I, too, am addicted to busyness. I am a teacher and the school year can get quite busy. I ALWAYS have a “withdrawl” week after school ends and the lazier days of summer start. I am learning to slow down, and am certainly not perfect at it, but it has been good for me to remember where my worth comes from.

  • Regina Robbins says:

    I am addicted to busyness. I know it, but I use it as a way to avoid the real sadness of my current situation. I do feel my worth is in what I do as I am disabled and I can’t help with cooking and cleaning. I feel uneasy about this weekend because I don’t have a lot of paid work to do! I honestly don’t know that I want this need to be busy to lessen as it eases my stress in a weird sort of way.

  • says:

    Thanks for your post today. I spent the day hurrying around town with my 4 year old on errands and didn’t really focus on him at all today. I needed this reminder to spend real quality time with my children and not just quantity time where I am focused on other things. My family is way more important than every little errand or to do list or even blog post.

  • Virginia says:

    Hi Crystal – I think you might enjoy this song by Josh Calhoun from Citizen Way. Beauty in the Common:

    It is Josh’s mom in the video playing the piano…just beautiful! Blessings to you! Virginia

  • Kat says:

    When I chose to be a stay at home mom, I struggled a long time with feeling like I needed to be someplace and doing something. I would look at those sweet baby faces and wonder how I could need more. So I kept telling myself, like a mantra, “you are just where you need to be right now, doing just what you need to do.” I came a long way because of that. I definitely slowed down. When they entered school full time, I still found myself looking to cram something into every minute. And became exhausted, rather than ready to welcome them and share their days. I still need that mantra and to remember what I saw someone else more eloquent than me post: “We can both be a masterpiece and a work in progress.”

  • says:

    Crystal, thank you for being so transparent in sharing what God is working in you. I love that you are on this journey and can share it with so many readers. I have been on this journey of rest for about a year now and it’s transforming. I can’t imagine that you will only have a ‘a year of rest’. I pray that even after this year, you can continue to minister from a state of rest.

    I recently read John Ortberg’s book, Soul Keeping. I love how he contrasted busy vs hurried.

    Busy
    A full schedule
    Many activities
    An outward condition
    Physically demanding
    Reminds me I need God

    Hurried
    Preoccupied
    Unable to be fully present
    An inner condition of the soul
    Spiritually draining
    Causes me to be unavailable to God

    We will have seasons and days that are FULL (Busy), but having an unhurried soul in those days is when ‘God’s presence goes with us and gives us rest’.

    My prayer during my journey to rest has been that God would teach me to number my days that I would gain a heart of wisdom. Praying the same for you!!

  • Jennifer says:

    Thanks fir sharing,crystal. I have struggled with this as well chronic illness, so the combination is not so good! I read an Ann voskamp post recently that talked about looking at the calendar not as boxes to fill up but days to unwrap and focusing on the present gift. It really resonated with me and every time I get anxious about “white space ” the Lord reminds me that life is not about filling up my time.

  • Kristen S. says:

    I love that question “Is my worth coming from what I do?” I don’t live a real busy life, but I still need to make sure that my worth isn’t coming from what I do! I have worth apart from anything I do or do not accomplish. What freedom!! Thank you for this wonderful post, Crystal! (I almost wrote “awesome” and then smiled to myself and changed it to “wonderful” based on your scope where you mentioned this.) 🙂 Thanks so much for all you do! It’s such a blessing to me!!

  • says:

    Crystal – you are amazing. I’ve loved watching you transition over the years to sharing more and more of your authentic self. You are completely and utterly inspiring. What a gift to us all. Thank you.

  • says:

    Thank you for your honesty and opening up to all of us! This is so relatable for me as well! My word for 2016 is Simplify and I started out doing well in this but it seems this month has bombarded me with activities and possible commitments (things I could and should say no to, but am having a hard time with doing so!) that don’t really help me follow my “Simplify” plan…I knew I was on edge this last week and I think that was why….this busy addiction is no joke! I feel so much better when I do give myself the rest but it is so hard because I, like you, feel fidgety and unable to calm down when I am just sitting…I almost feel guilty for taking the time to rest. Such a great reminder that God wants us to rest and to take a Sabbath time to reflect and simplify our lives.
    Oh and I agree about the Breathe song…I heard it on K Love this morning and thought it was a perfect, beautiful reminder also!

  • Tara Hernandez says:

    This really hits home for me. From the moment my feet hit the floor until bedtime, I am running around and constantly doing something. However, on the inside I just want to slow down and rest. I really struggle with this because when I try and be still my mind spins and I feel very anxious. I struggle with anxiety on top of this. Its like a fight to relax. So glad your speaking about this because so many of us struggle.

  • Dia says:

    I found one great way that makes me feel productive, refreshes my heart and gives me rest at the same time! Gardening!! I grow fruits, vegetables and flowers. Not just because I get healthy food for my family, but because it is a way of rest for me.

    Rest doesn’t have to mean you sit still doing nothing. Spending time with family, getting an afternoon nap, growing gardens, playing with your kids etc. all are forms of rest. Different people have different ways of getting rest. Try different things and find out what ”rest” means to you 🙂 God bless.

  • says:

    While I do believe God leads us through busy seasons, I don’t think busy all the time is a good thing or healthy. Just like the earth has seasons that are bursting with life and productivity, it also has seasons of quiet and rest, when there doesn’t seem to be much going on on the outside, but lots of growth/renewal is happening beneath the surface. It seems that God made everything with cycles – cycles of productivity and work and cycles of rest and rejuvenation. I garden, and I have found if I don’t rotate my garden spaces and allow the soil to rest, the harvest ends up being more prone to disease, smaller in size and just fewer in actual fruits and veggies. We can be the same way. Thanks for sharing this! I am working on reordering my own life to break my own addiction to busyness so I can live a life of purpose – not relentless activity!

  • Bev says:

    I was this way and I think it is easy to fall into it because it tends to help us validate ourselves by what we do. However, a string of illness and surgeries and miscarriages brought me to reality – I wasn’t resting enough and therefore, I wasn’t really living. I’m recovering from everything now and able to do so much more and I find that there is still the pull to busyness but I remember those days on the couch looking out the window at the birds on the porch and unable to even get up and being FORCED to rest for so long. It really changes your mind and thoughts on life and what is really important and *hint* it isn’t the huge list of things we can say we did. I seemed to somehow miss the birds, the squirrels, the trees and all the things going on around me because I was too busy to notice, to really notice.

    Now, I go sit on my son’s floor and play. I listen more to my daughter tell me all the things she is loving in her game or with her new toy. I sit on the couch still sometimes and just look outside watching nature happen and let myself be completely available.

    Anyway, I shared all that to say that I learned the hard way to slow down and it is one lesson I don’t want to forget and I don’t want to get lost in the busyness again.

  • Allison says:

    I have busyness out of necessity, and after 5 years of single-working-momming it, I don’t know how not to be busy. I just told a friend yesterday, even I went to the beach for vacation, I wouldn’t be able to relax. I’d be making a To Do list, at the very least! My job is ridiculously fast-paced with zero breathing room, and at home I have to make the most of every second to be sure the kids are fed, bathed, and get some sleep once in a while. Weekends are a marathon of grocery shopping and housework.
    However, in the last several months, I’ve started to slow down. I’m able to enjoy my kids and while not every weekend or evening is relaxing quality time, we are able to go out for ice cream, fly kites, or just watch movies. It really does make a difference not to be crazy busy and multi-tasking every minute.

  • Andrea says:

    Have you seen The Sound Of Music? (Is that a silly question?) One of my favorite lines from that movie was from Captain Von Trapp. He said, “Activity suggests a life filled with purpose.” I think it always stuck with me because it really hit home.

    I love relaxing and resting up to be all there mentally and physically for my kids when they get off the bus at 3pm, and I know it’s the right thing to do. But I don’t do it very often because it feel guilty! I often think about how my husband doesn’t get to rest at work or how my kids don’t get to rest at school. Or my conscience starts to say, “if the house isn’t picked up, etc, then you haven’t done your job.”

    It’s a daily battle inside of me for sure!

  • says:

    This is really neat! You won’t believe what God has been telling me and all my intercessor friends this year, that this is a season of rest! Funny thing is a few years ago God asked me to fast my blog for a month, three times. I thought I was crazy fasting a really growing business that was doing so well, but it had actually become an idol for me. God had me pray that He would redeem it, and it ended up that my online coupon class and existing content was bought by a large company! God was asking me to move on to something new. Beth Moore was my Sunday School teacher growing up, and God recently sent me to a Beth Moore conference where He commissioned me to write a book. This is the coolest part, He gave me the title of it and everything and my favorite chapter is called Rest and Restoration! The book is Now Is The Time: To Walk In The Spirit. I’d be glad to send you an ebook if you want.
    Blessings,
    Lori
    The Bargain Shopper Lady

  • says:

    Exactly how I feel right now!!!!

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