I like this word. A lot. It is a word which means what it says. I don’t know who coined it but Ortberg uses it in ‘The Life You’ve Always Wanted’. It describes the drive within us relentlessly to pursue more and more – more success, more things crammed into less time. We have fallen victim to the dream of efficiency.
Maybe you think you are safe from this very modern sickness. Maybe you are. But try Ortberg’s list of symptoms for size first…
- constantly speeding up daily activities
- cluttered lives (swathes of unread books, supposedly time-saving devices you’ve not even had time to unwrap, trails of missed appointments and forgotten dates)
- an inability to love another by giving time
- ‘sunset fatigue’ (after a long day at the office, the ones we love end up getting shortchanged by us; they get the dribs and drabs, not the first and best parts of us)
I’m not immune to this disease. In fact, I need to confess something. I’m so completely Type A that I have just multitasked even in the writing of this post. I was on the phone to someone and adding the tags to the post at the same time.
Shame on me. I cannot control this soul-sickness even when I am writing about the perils of it! That is the way of sin, isn’t it? It takes the Spirit to bring about transformation and freedom from such practices. And spiritual disciplines are part of that process.
Ortberg describes a spiritual discipline as
any activity I can do by direct effort that will help me do what I cannot now do by direct effort.
One discipline or practice that might serve me well here is ‘slowing’. Ortberg suggests eating your food slowly for a week (fifteen chews of each mouthful before swallowing, he says!). He counsels looking for the longest queue at the supermarket and joining it. And then letting one person go ahead of you. And doing that all month! He suggests going through one day without wearing a watch. These things I might be able to do…just! And maybe in doing them, I will begin to see some control over the monster that is hurrysickness.
Another is the practice of solitude. It’s one I have used on several occasions. I find it only works if I turn off the mobile, leave the laptop behind and fast all other forms of communication. Even then, it is hard. The first few hours are frustrating as my efficiency drive tries to turn over and over. I am revving but I cannot move forward. The brakes are on! And yet I find that this practice of solitude is good for the soul.
I know that I am hurrysick. I try to plan in what I call Godspace to counteract that. Sometimes that means a day away; sometimes it means shading out a week in my diary so that I don’t take on pastoral or leadership meetings in that time but instead can devote time to planning and listening to God for church and for me.
It’s so hard and is opposed every time I do it. Things come up which just ‘have’ to be fitted in. But I have discovered that those things will wait.
Most things in the end will wait.
It is only my hurrysickness which claims that it is not so.