5 Antidotes for Hurry Sickness

“Hurry is not just a disturbed schedule.  Hurry is a disoriented heart.”  John Ortberg  

Hurry sickness like most undetected diseases is a silent killer.  The sobering fact is that hurry sickness could be wrecking havoc in our lives without us even knowing it.  Make no mistake about it; hurry sickness is a killer disease.  It kills relationships, it kills productivity, it kills perspective and priorities, it kills spontaneity and the joy of the moment and worst of all it kills spirituality.  How can that be?

More often than not, hurry sickness forces us to sacrifice the important things in life for those things which seem urgent, but are not as important.  Years ago Charles Hummel, in a little booklet by the same title, identified this tendency as the “Tyranny of the Urgent.”  Urgency, although a life saver when it is an appropriate response, becomes a tyrant when everyday life suffers from its inflated and incessant demands.

Hurry sickness is therefore defined as “a behavior pattern characterized by continual rushing and anxiousness; an overwhelming and continual sense of urgency.”  (Dictionary.com) 

How do you know if you have hurry sickness?  Simply measure your life against the definition.  If you frequently feel rushed, anxious, overwhelmed and/or are always battling a sense of urgency, then you have it.  Ouch!  I’ve got it!  Do you?

The bigger question then becomes, what do we do about it?  Having battled this disease most of my life I’ve realized there are no easy answers.  I have discovered however that getting older helps.  One of the benefits of aging is that a person begins to gain some perspective that everything isn’t as urgent as it once seemed.  And the really important things in life have a way of coming into to focus more readily.  For this I am thankful.

But as a hurry sickness survivor I still wake up in the morning with anxiety over a growing to do list and have to consciously silence the shouts of urgency from some of the most insignificant pip squeak concerns.

Jesus is the best example I know, of someone who in the midst of the tremendous pressure and demands upon His life never hurried.  Although His life was full of activity it was consistently punctuated with pauses. And although He was busy, He always made time for every interruption.  No one or no thing rushed Jesus.

Dallas Willard, Christian philosopher and author, has said “Ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.”  Considering the detrimental effects hurry sickness has upon our lives that is wise advice.

Inspired by Jesus, here are five things I’ve found that are antidotes for me in combating the hurry disease. 

1.  Practice solitude!  Jesus did! (Mark 1:35)  Like Jesus, I love the early morning hours, to take time to commune with God and prepare my heart for the day. Uninterrupted silence is like manna, a person needs to savor it before the sun comes up and the to do’s of the day melt it away.

2.  Sit down!  Jesus did!  When Jesus was tired and wanted to conserve energy He sat down; whether it was at a well, on the Mount of Olives, in the temple or on a mountainside (John 4:6, Mark 12:41, 13:3, John 6:3)   What better prescription for hurry sickness than to take a well deserved break and sit down.  The important thing is letting your mind sit in addition to your body.  Studies show those who take regular work breaks are more productive than those who don’t.  That alone should be sufficient incentive to stop hurrying.

3.  Take a nap!  Jesus did! (Luke 8:23)  He could sleep anywhere, even in the midst of a storm on the Sea of Galilee.  I’ve found that nothing refreshes me more, when the storms of life are pressing in upon me, than taking a nap.  Invariably I wake up with a renewed energy and resolve to calmly face the challenges that are before me.

4.  Take a road trip!  Jesus did!  His times with His disciples traveling from village to village were times to think, talk, listen and learn.  I love road trips.  The longer the distance the better and the less traveled the road the more leisurely it seems.  Nothing beats time in the car, alone or with a worthy companion, to commune with God or one another and to recharge the soul.  And avoid hurry when you can by getting off the freeway and taking the scenic route.

5.  Set you own agenda!  Jesus did!  People all around Jesus including his own family members were urging Him to do all manner of things. (John 7:1-9)  But He always called His own shots and set His own pace, even in life or death situations. (Mark 5:25 & John 11:1-7)  It takes conviction and courage to say “Wait” or “No” to the myriad demands of life and to refuse to be a people pleaser.  And few things keep hurry at bay more than setting your own agenda and keeping your own time table.

How do you deal with hurry sickness?  Please share your thoughts.

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8 thoughts on “5 Antidotes for Hurry Sickness”

  1. Dave Rasmussen

    I say AMEN! There’s nothing like a heart attack to slow one down.
    The Lord allowed me to live for another day. These 5 excellent
    points I learned the hard way.

  2. Dave – you are the voice of experience and wisdom! All who know you are also rejoicing you are alive and well! Thanks for taking the time to share your comment.

  3. Okay….now having read this through a few times, I know that I definitely have hurry sickness. Now that I have a clear diagnosis it is much easier to deal with the cure.

    Tom, you are a very gifted writer/blogger. You continue to challenge me, make me reflect, think deeper and cause change.

    Thank you for that.

  4. Thanks for your feedback and encouragement Diane. May you be more than a conqueror in Christ as you seek to keep your life in balance.

  5. Tom, I thoroughly appreciated your words and the resources you listed. I’ve linked this piece on the post I did over at my blog today, titled “Buying Time.” I’m a way off yet from being a recovering hurrier. By God’s grace, in time with Him, I will be a victor.

  6. Thanks Anne for the kind words and link to your blog. Sorry for the delayed reply. Read your blog as well and loved your article. A constant reminder to me is the great promise out of Isaiah 64:4 which says “He works for those who wait for Him.” What a challenge. Why hurry when waiting invites God to do above and beyond what we can through our own frenzied effort?

  7. Having finished readind this beautiful article of yours ,let me acknowledge that all of my mental stress has vanished away. It seems that I have found the secret of my life. I owe you a lot brother. Thanks

  8. hey. thanks for this article. i really hope to remedy my hurry sickness by taking on board what you have said. many thanks, and all the best.

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