“Take a brake!” (No, it’s not misspelled.)
It’s a line from the Christmas movie, Polar Express. Remember? The Hobo Ghost riding the train taps the brake with his mug as he shouts to the Hero Boy, “Take a brake!” The Hero Boy and his friends are trapped in a runaway train car careening down the steep streets of the North Pole. The Hero turns the wheel of the brake stopping the train car in the nick of time.
It’s good advice.
The world around us keeps spinning faster and faster so we grab everything we can to stay up to speed: microwave meals, instagram communications, wash and wear clothes and apps that allow us to work on the go. We’re running as fast as we can but the treadmill isn’t going anywhere!
The solution? Take a break and take a brake.
Honestly, I don’t know how bees do it. Collectively a hive of small insects manages to accomplish some king-sized tasks. The queen lays eggs day and night and nurse bees feed the new eggs over 12,000 times in a 24-hour period. One forager bee visits about 5000 flowers a daily and cumulatively the bees fly 90,000 miles to create one pound of honey.
Now, that’s busy!
Bees are able to accomplish all that because there’s a division of labor in the hive allowing them to get the job done. And while they don’t sleep in the traditional sense, bees do know when to rest. Now I’m not as busy as those little insects, but lately I have been darting around traveling, speaking and signing books. For an extrovert like me it’s energizing, but all that busyness has me thinking — and if you’ve read my book, Life Lessons from the Hive, you know how dangerous that can be!
After graduating college I worked as a radio newscaster, rushing from one news story to the next — always chasing a deadline or a headline. I’d sprint from interviewing police at a car crash to reporting live at the scene of a house fire. I was a “Radio Personality” and I thought my busyness was proof of my value. My schedule was full — but my life was empty.
Have you ever opted for busyness to fill the emptiness in your life?
We fill our calendars but loose sight of who we are. And we forget why we’re doing all that stuff in the first place. While activity is good, too much of it brings on stress and keeps us from intimacy with God. So I’ve come up with seven steps to help us grab hold of the brake and keep our sanity in a crazy world.
1. Stop the noise
TV, radio, video games all generate sound. And while our brains have the amazing ability to relegate those sounds to the background, they’re still competing for attention and affecting our peace.
2. Turn off your phone
Up to the minute news, facebook posts, sports scores, photos, instagram, messages and even occasional phone calls have our phones chiming more often than a grandfather clock at midnight. Try turning off your phone for a while. I promise you won’t lose friends and the “urgent” news will wait.
3. Get some rest
Doctors recommend 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night. They say it’s vital to our well-being. No more staying up until the wee hours of the morning only to “rise and shine” at 5 AM. Your brain does a lot of “repair work” while you’re sleeping, so give it time to do its job.
4. Say ”No.”
You are not the solution to every problem. Examine each of the extra curricular demands on your life and ask God, “Is this something You want ME to do?” Sometimes God’s plan is to use others.
5. Take a relaxing vacation
Don’t go to Disney World. Use your vacation to slow down. When my vacation is full of activity I usually need a vacation from my vacation! Hit the brake and break the routine. Go away for an hour or a day or a weekend. A change in routine will reset your brain so you can function with more creativity. Try reading a good book like Life Lessons from the Hive. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)
6. Go outside
Fresh air and sunshine, no matter what season, are good for you. Let the sun shine on your face and the breeze run its fingers through your hair. The Great Outdoors really is great.
7. Let God set your priorities
Ask God to schedule your day. He can show you what’s important so you don’t waste your day on distractions and rabbit trails. His priority is you, so His day planner will include some time for the two of you.
Psalm 48:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.” God wouldn’t tell us to be still if we didn’t need to be reminded.
I’m learning to lay down my agenda and pick up His. And, guess what. The stress is lifting. My schedule is still full, but I have peace. And, I get everything done. I still have a To Do List, but it doesn’t control my life.
I may not visit 5000 flowers a day, but with His help I can do all He asks — and have time to spare. And while I don’t speak their “language” I can certainly learn a thing or two from the bees — or rather, the God Who made them.
How about you? Is it time to re-think your priorities?