We've all had seasons of hustle in our lives.
Seasons where we took on that extra side job, agreed to one more book club, bible study, volunteer opportunity, or extracurricular. Added one more commitment than we could probably handle ... or five.
Whether by necessity, choice, or peer pressure, for better or worse, we've all been in seasons of hustle—spiritually and physically.
But after that one-too-many overcommitment of ourselves, our schedule, and our hearts, some of us have been found lying on the couch at the end of that season, shell-shocked and wondering, "What just happened?"
Coming out of a very stressful season (well, somewhat out), I began to think about where my family and I could make margin in 2020.
Last year, we were hustling with two small kiddos between multiple jobs, church, a Ph.D. program, school, sickness, moving, and financial stress. Coming to the end of the year, my husband and I were the ones on the couch shell-shocked, and our little boys—while still running wildly—were worn emotionally.
Looking at the year ahead, we both knew we were going to have to make changes if we wanted to feel well and rested. We know it’s not going to be easy. We're going to have to make some hard decisions and say no to some good things, knowing that they're just not good right now. But we also know creating margin in our life will help us invest deeply in the places that matter instead of investing in more places but shallowly.
While we all go through different seasons of hustle for different reasons, maybe God is calling you this year into a season of intentional resting. Making choices that enable room and margin reflect His good design for our bodies, minds and hearts for Sabbath.
The word Sabbath is from the Hebrew Shabbat, a verb meaning to rest. As a verb, it’s an active word. It might seem ironic that the idea of rest is portrayed actively, but I think what God is calling us to is an intentionality with our time that allows for rest. We all know it can sometimes be easier to fill our schedules and hearts with busyness rather than life-giving margin.
Even if we think we’re resting by binging Netflix shows, or scrolling mindlessly through social media, we aren’t actively resting our hearts and minds. I’ve realized that most of the time, those things leave me feeling more restless than restful. My temper is shorter, my happiness and energy wane, and things like entitlement, impatience, harshness or negativity begin to creep in.
But most of the time, when I actively make time for studying scripture, spending time in prayer, or even having a meaningful conversation with a friend, I am left feeling filled up, rested, and have a greater sense of peace than before.
At the very end of her book, Cultivate: A Grace-Filled Guide to Growing an Intentional Life (which I happened to finish the last week of 2019), Lara Casey says one of the most impactful things in the whole book for me:
"HUSH THE HUSTLE."
When we don’t leave margin in our lives, we can push meaningful things to the fringes. Overcommitting ourselves to the wrong things (or to too many good things), doesn't tend to lead to fulfillment, but to eventual burnout, and we see the evidence of that burnout in our attitude, our emotions, our bodies, and our relationships.
Be honest with yourself and see what intentions are behind your hustle. Are you filling your life with busyness without intention? Are you starting to feel the strain of too many commitments? Maybe it's time to take a step back, let go of comparison and FOMO—which, let's be honest, is really just our hearts' discontentment with what God's given us and where He's placed us—and make decisions to cultivate good things already right in front of us.
Reflect on the past year. Are there places in your life where you are feeling the need for more margin?
Here are some questions that might help direct your thoughts:
What passed you by in 2019?
What left you feeling more drained than encouraged?
More depleted than joyful?
What relationships, hobbies or goals were left unattended or suffered?
Are you always feeling stressed, getting sick, or feeling frazzled?
Are your normal outlets for rest leaving you feeling more empty than full?
In a culture that idolizes hustle, busyness, and constant movement, Scripture leads us somewhere else—to Sabbath. To rest. The writer of Hebrews speaks of a spiritual rest, or Sabbath, in this way:
"... his works were finished from the foundation of the world. ...
So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.
Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart."
Hebrews 4:3, 9-12
If you're in a season of over-commitment or hustle, that’s okay, I’ve been there and understand that sometimes it’s a necessity, and sometimes a choice. But if you, like me, are feeling called to intentionally rest, pursue peace, and lay down some over-commitments in this next year or season of life, I want to encourage you to go where God's called you, and honor Him with your work and rest.
Choose to do what matters most over what looks best. Choose to pour into those closest to you instead of stretching yourself thin for the masses. Choose to give yourself to God before giving yourself to others. Choose to say, "Thanks, but not this time."
Choose to "hush the hustle."
*I highly recommend Lara Casey's books and resources to help cultivate what matters most to you. Whether you need help planning, goal setting, or just need a pep-talk now and then, she's been there, done that, and now shares her story at laracasey.com.
You can find even more of Lara Casey's resources at cultivatewhatmatters.com.
Photo by Jealous Weekends on Unsplash