When people ask me to describe myself, I usually use these words: a workaholic, a machine, incredibly busy, and overly anxious. Basically, I always have too much on my schedule. I easily pack days during the semester––reading for my classes at Talbot, writing papers and articles, editing, swimming, working three jobs, playing in Wind Ensemble, practicing my three instruments, and hanging out with friends. I even wrote an entire book this semester, oh goodness.
Several people have asked me, “Are you always on the go?” Yes. I definitely am due to my ADHD and overly-driven nature, which makes it difficult to rest.
This past semester, however, I’ve been trying to learn how to become content with doing nothing. Absolutely nothing. Not even doing calm activities, such as lounging on a couch and reading. I’ve gone to bed at 6 p.m. some days because I was so exhausted, and I honestly didn’t care. Last semester, I would have flipped out at the thought of getting even eight hours of sleep. I now just listen to my body and learn not to push through exhaustion.
I eventually found that breaking away from workaholism gave me a peace I couldn’t describe. Instead of worrying about perfect grades on papers and assignments, I discovered my best was enough. Traumatizing myself to earn A’s wasn’t worth it. If I didn’t practice my flute seven or more hours a week, three hours was still good enough. Instead of skipping meals to study, I let myself eat dinner. If I became frustrated with an article, I walked away, watched a movie, and came back to it. If I picked up extra shifts at work, I knew I needed more rest on the weekend. I can go on, but these are some of the ways I reduced the pressure to overwork this past semester.
Now that it’s summer, I’m lifeguarding at Hume Lake (the camp). Over the past two weeks, I’ve found myself stumped with what to do. I don’t have any school work, and I’ve become bored of reading at times. After pondering possible activities for a while, I decided I would sit outside and watch the lake.
Just doing that gave me a peace I hadn’t felt in a while. I could breathe and think clearly again. Even though I’ve asked myself, “Am I doing well enough here at Hume?,” I pushed past those anxious thoughts and took in the fresh air. I guess I was technically “doing something” since I watched some people paddleboard or go around the lake on kayaks, I wasn’t working. God’s definitely taught me about the importance of slowing down since I’ve been at camp, and I hope that continues.
Perhaps the writer of Psalm 23 felt the same way. God made him lie down––an act of rest–– in green pastures and by still waters (nature), which refreshed the writer’s soul. He gave me the same peace as I sat down by the lake. Slowing down is so crucial; it restores our soul in an overly-stimulated world.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.
-Psalm 23 (NIV)