The most common response to the question, “How are you?” is “Busy!” or even, “Crazy busy!” Our culture wears this as a badge of worth. The implication is that the busier we are, the more important we must be.
Let’s be honest … just about everyone you know is busy. “Importance” has very little to do with it. The fact is that life generates more things to do than anyone can possibly accomplish. And as we try to do it all, we can truly say, “I’m crazy busy!”
|Time is what keeps everything from happening all at once; lately it does not seem to be working.|
On top of it all, life has times where several things converge – things you cannot control – and it gets worse: you get sick, a loved one dies, your daughter gets into trouble, you lose your job. Then your response to “How are you?” might be, “I’m crazy.” Yes, life can overwhelm.
So what can we do about this?
I wish I had the magic formula that you could apply, and everything would be fixed. I would be a billionaire if I could package and sell it. Instead, I offer you a path that can get you unstuck and moving in the right direction. Here’s my suggestion:
Since time does not seem to be working, take a “time out.” Just stop.
You must have space to think. Your mind is overwhelmed, and you need to re-think things. You need space mentally and physically. You will have to go somewhere away from your normal surroundings, a pleasant and safe place where you can think.
This is actually hard to do! When so many things are screaming for your attention, it’s difficult to find the time to stop.
So here’s the first shift in thinking you must do: shift from trying to find the time to taking the time. Taking time means you are taking charge of your life, deciding to let some things go in order to do something of higher value. So pick a day to leave.
But just a minute, you have to pack first:
- Get your Bible, pen and paper
- Then get a copy of Henry Cloud’s book, Necessary Endings. This Christian counsellor has years of experience helping people written into this book. It is the best resource I know that can help you get unstuck.
Go to your safe place, away from the phone and internet. Unplug for a day. Let your loved ones know where you are, and leave for at least a day; overnight is better. Two overnights are best.
When you get to your safe place, settle in. Get a cup of your favourite hot brew, and sit down for a while. The first thing you may notice is that you are sleepy. Then go ahead and take a nap.
- Rest enough so that your mind slows down, and you have enough energy to think.
- Open your Bible, and read Matthew 6:25-34.
- Begin to write your prayer to God on your paper (or better yet, in your journal). Just write your thoughts, feelings and reflections. Writing is a way to make your mind slow down and focus. There is something very helpful about having to spell it all out to God; it begins to organize your thinking.
Write down whatever thoughts come to mind. Don’t try to figure out if it is your voice, or God’s – just write. You can figure out the details later. Right now you are simply getting into an intentional conversation with God and paying attention through journalling.
Once you feel you have put your thoughts to paper and nothing more is coming, take out Dr. Henry Cloud’s book Necessary Endings and begin reading. A good book is like having a counsellor talking with you. Stop and journal whenever something grabs your attention. Underline great sentences; circle key concepts; write notes in the margin; have a “conversation” with Henry through your pen.
Let the day unfold. There is no specific format to follow. You may need to take a nap or two. Go back to Scripture. Or go for a walk. Or get a meal. Or fast – just be open to the Spirit and your spirit to do whatever is needed for that moment. You are in a “time out,” where the normal pressures of “time” are ignored, and you are in a personal dialogue with God about your life.
Choose a friend to whom you will go to and tell what you have learned.
Friends, if you will do what I’ve suggested, you may find God meeting with you in a powerful and personal way. It certainly has been true for me and many others in the CREST Program. There may not be an audible voice or a light from heaven, but when you go back and read your journal later you will be surprised at what is written there – there was more than just you in that writing. God was speaking, and you were paying attention.
Want to go further with this?
The CREST Leadership Program offers a path that helps you with a structured reflection about your life and leadership. Helping leaders in the second half of life is our speciality. Hundreds have been helped. Click HERE to read some of their testimonies.
We are starting an Alberta and an Ontario cohort in the new year of 2015. Sign up and join others who are on the same journey as you; find clarity and a fresh vision for your life and leadership in the second half.