Thursday, July 26, 2018

Living Revved Up & Learning to Slow Down


by Henry McLaughlin @RiverBendSagas


Do you ever get the feeling life is running out of control and you’re racing like a car in the Indy 500? And falling further behind the rest of the cars no matter how fast you go? And your pit crew looks like the Three Stooges on steroids?

A few months ago, my wife and I were going through a time such as this. We were involved in a ministry we love at our church and there always seemed to be more we could do to take our service to the new areas and levels. 

We became grandparents for the third time. Our new grandson is an eight-hour drive away. Close but it’s not a day trip. It’s at least three days. We’re blessed with new friendships, close relationships we treasure. 

The busier we get, the more things we can get involved in. All good things. 

Then add work, keeping up with the rest of our scattered family and the routines maintaining the house and cars and other stuff.

My own workload added to the frenetic pace. I had set a due date and word limit for my work in progress and I was approaching the limit on both. An editing project proved more challenging than I anticipated. Other projects and marketing efforts had me pushing my limit.

The issue became how to bring this revved up experience under control, how to slow it down before I ran off the road. 

It required a decision to stop and assess and prioritize what I was doing. It was impossible to do everything. Wife and family had to reclaim its place as first priority. Then came church. Then my own writing. Anything else had to fit into the time left.

Change didn’t happen over night. 

I didn’t get into this hyperactive lifestyle overnight. It crept up on me. Getting it under control was going to take time as well. 

There’s no magic switch that slows everything down to a speed we like. It takes discipline and effort to ensure we don’t spin ourselves off the track of life. And it takes prayer and meditation to see all our activities for what they really are and to make decisions.

Then we reach the point where the pressure lifts. The projects get done, the hectic schedule slows. And our bodies and minds want to keep running. We forget to relax and to enjoy those moments of satisfaction in completing a task or project. It’s like our bodies and minds have to keep going or we’ll…what? Droop like a toy as its battery dies? Disappear in a puff of smoke? We can’t pretend we’re the Energizer bunny and keep going and going and going. 

The body, the mind, the spirit all need to relax and enjoy the fruits of our work and recharge. In a novel, we can’t have our hero go from thrill to thrill, never stopping. We’ll exhaust the reader. We need to include those moments where our hero stops and reflects on what just happened, refreshes himself, and gears up to keep moving forward.

Life is like that too. We need to relax and refresh. Sometimes we need to force ourselves to stop.

We’re still in this process of evaluating what’s important to God and how to best follow his plan. So, you’ll be seeing more posts on this.

What are some things you do when you find life is racing and you’re barely hanging on for the ride?

TWEETABLES


Henry’s debut novel, Journey to Riverbend, won the 2009 Operation First Novel contest.

Henry edits novels, leads critique groups, and teaches at conferences and workshops. He enjoys mentoring and coaching individual writers.
 


Connect with Henry on his blogTwitter and Facebook.

15 comments:

  1. "Sometimes we need to force ourselves to stop." So true. There have been a few times when I barreled on, denying all of the danger signs. Eventually, God stopped me - not fun. I try now to be more aware.

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    1. Thanks for commenting, Sherry. I'm getting better, but sometimes I still miss the danger the signs and push too hard. Then I repent and worship and thank God for his sweet and tender mercies and his grace and strength.

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  2. When my life is racing and feels out of control, that usually means I have said "yes" to too many activities. Learning to pick and choose has been very helpful. I want to honor God in all my activities. :-)

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    1. I agree, Melissa. I tend to let the same thing happen to me. Honoring God for me sometimes means stepping back and asking him to determine my priorities. Blessings.

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  4. My pastor uses a phrase that has helped me with my over-commitment issues. Sometimes we have to say "no to the good, so we can say yes to the best." It's hard to say no to good things, but this perspective has been so helpful. It's not foolproof, unfortunately, but it's a good starting point.

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    1. Love your pastor's phrase. It is so true.

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  5. I didn't grow older by slowing down, but I have slowed down due to growing older. For years I believed myself to be invincible, but as has been shared, life has a way of catching up when a person doesn't pay attention to the signs along the way. And we learn what the important things are when we can only do one or two things.Much too easy to get our mission sidetracked by the emergency rather than doing the important.

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    1. Hi Donevy. I agree--it was hard to give up my illusion of invincibility. But with God's grace and mercy, I was able to accept the new me and move forward with Him.

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    2. Thanks for your comment, Donevy.
      I went through the "I'm invincible" phase way too often. Even now, it raises its ugly head, hence this blog post. But God has his ways go getting my attention and getting me to refocus on what's important.

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    3. Thanks for your comment, Donevy.
      I went through the "I'm invincible" phase way too often. Even now, it raises its ugly head, hence this blog post. But God has his ways go getting my attention and getting me to refocus on what's important.

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  6. i have RA and while i do not believe Father gave it to me, He is surely using it to teach me this very thing - i don't have the stamina to maintain the pace i once did. i recently had knee replacement, and suspended my writing and the blog. i'm just now easing back into blog posts and toying with a Christmas novella.
    such wisdom in your post, Henry, something i learned the very hard way!
    ps - the power of saying "no" is a wonderful tool!!

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    1. Thank you, Robin. Praying for you as you step back on the writing journey.

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    2. Thanks for your comment, Robin. Praying for a complete recovery for you and for God's strength and grace as you continue on your writing journey.

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  7. Thank you, Robin. Praying for you as you step back into your writing journey.

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