“Are you running at a breakneck pace to try and achieve what God wants you to slow down to receive?”—Lysa TerKeurst
This question made me stop to consider the condition of my soul. Good questions trigger us to reflect on our lives.
Over the past two years, I have pushed hard with both traditional and independent publishing work. Holy in the Moment is my first book with Abingdon Press, and I also run a publishing imprint for Planting Roots: Strength to Thrive in Military Life.
Though I worked with love, faith, and determination to grow platform, increase reach, develop new content, and market my book effectively, I often felt pressure to perform. I wrote about this in my last post, When You Catch Yourself Seeking Your Worth in Your Work.
I was also busy with an ambitious travel schedule, a part-time job, family, blog, speaking events, and non-profit editing and formatting of four books.
When Passion Becomes Pressure
Last fall I teetered on the edge of burnout. Discouragement infiltrated my emotions as I tried to juggle too many good things. When you put too many good things on your plate, something will have to give.
I felt I hadn’t earned the right to say “no” to any possible opportunity. I’ve only recently recognized insecurity and fear simmering beneath good intentions.
God enabled me to accomplish many beautiful things in the midst of brisk pace of life. There were countless blessings, great experiences, and wins–it was a wonderful year on many levels. I’m deeply grateful for each blessing.
Over time, there was a cost to juggling too many good tasks.
- Emotional: discouragement, weariness, and frustration began to infiltrate my attitudes.
- Practical: my home became a frustrating mess (at least to my comfort level). My office was such a wreck I didn’t even want to walk in the door.
- Physical: back pain from lack of strength training and long hours at the computer impacted my health.
- Spiritual: a subtle shift in motives impacted spiritual freedom in my work.
Slowing Down to Receive God’s Best
Some blessings we have to slow down to receive God’s strength for our weariness. We need God’s best to thrive in this life.
Deep work of the soul cannot be accomplished while we rush through life trying to do all the things that the “more is better” lie compels.
- Time to breathe.
- Time to clean up and clean out.
- Time to exercise.
- Time to refocus and regroup.
These are a few of the ways I’ve slowed down to receive everyday grace for spirit, soul, and body.
Shame creeps in with the lie that I will be left behind if I don’t accomplish all the things the world says are “must do’s all the time” for authors. It’s more than a little insane to tell you the truth.
I’m choosing the holy and whole, entrusting my moments to God as well as my work. I lay down the strange cocktail of insecurity and perfectionism on the altar of faith.
This winter I’ve taken time for my soul to catch up with my body and for my heart to heal from the pressure of the expectations I placed on myself.
And it is good.
Recover Your Soul’s Strength in Christ
How about you, my friend? Are you feeling the stress of trying to do all the things…all the time?
Do you need to create space for your soul to breathe? Are you striving to achieve something God wants you to slow down to receive?
I ask these questions because they are important, and they are easy to bypass in the pursuit of all the good opportunities before us.
Here are a few steps to evaluate what’s happening in your soul today:
1.Look beneath the surface of your schedule to identify your why. Why are you doing what you do? What are you hoping to accomplish? Are your motivations helping you or have they shifted to something that drives you?
2. Listen to the messages in your emotions. Have vulnerable emotions started to crowd out a positive attitude? Are you consistently feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, or discouraged? These vulnerable emotions alert us to shifts in our motivations. They can also point to lies that keep us in a state of stress.
3. Ask God to show you his desire for your heart and your schedule. Let him show you where you might carve out margin in your schedule. The greater responsibility of leadership you carry, the greater your need for solitude, prayer, and listening to God.
4. Release your expectations. It’s easy to default to the patterns of our flesh in order to meet a need, achieve a goal, or solve a problem. Surrender opens the door to working in faith and freedom as we enjoy working with God rather than striving for God.
5. Evaluate your commitments. Have you said yes to so many good things that you cannot accomplish your best thing? Are you sacrificing necessary parts of your life to accomplish your goals?
6. Trust God as you refine your motivations and adjust your schedule as needed. If your priorities have shifted, make the necessary changes to make time for the things that matter most.
But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.—Matthew 6:33
I will still work hard. I’m looking forward to speaking for upcoming events. I’m excited to work on new projects.
I will be intentional to guard my heart and be more careful about boundaries, margin, and motivations. Is this your challenge too?
Let’s encourage one another to. . .
- Entrust Jesus to be the keeper of our soul and of our schedule.
- Commit to pay attention to our inner yes’s and no’s that can shift our motives in the daily push.
- Work in the freedom of the Spirit rather than strive according to the flesh.
As we practice choosing God’s best, I suspect that we will look back in wonder at what God will do. Which one of these steps is most helpful for you today?
Leave a comment and share your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you.