DETOX: Hurry

Have you ever woken up and right away – without even think about it – reached for your phone and checked you emails? Have you ever thought to yourself “I could get so much done if I didn’t need to sleep or eat”? Has it become habit to sit down and write a to-do list for the day that is unrealistic, and then feel like a failure when a few items are left undone?

If you can say yes to these questions (or just one of them) you may have what is called “hurry sickness.”

In life, and especially in the workforce, there is this invisible badge of honor that is bestowed upon those who are hurrying to do more and be more productive. It is almost culturally taboo to not be busy. It is the norm to respond to “How are you?” with “I’m good. Just super busy.”

People are rewarded for sacrificing their personal lives on the altar of corporate advancement, being called a workaholic is an affirmation, and answering emails while on vacation shows how committed you are to your job. This is the culture that has caused hurry sickness to become normal.

So, what is “hurry sickness”? It is a lifestyle of chronic rushing through life, anxiously feeling the relentless pressure to get more done in less time. Some of the side effects include increased anxiety, feeling flustered when something causes a delay in your day, and a chronic state of being overstimulated by answering text messages, emails, or phone calls to the point where one cannot sit still. Have you ever found yourself at this point: feeling as if you are missing out on, or need to respond to, something immediately as you slow down to rest? Not sure? Try this: Put away your phone, your laptop, remove any external noise you have the power to remove, and then be still for ten minutes. If two minutes in you have a need to reach for your phone, or recall an email you need to respond to right away, you may have hurry sickness.

But what if you could be free from constant hurry? Imagine what your life could look like if you were to be no longer a slave to the constant internal pressure to do more in less time.

A couple of years ago I read a book by a pastor named John Ortberg. In this book, John described being mentored by Dallas Willard – a highly influential Christian thinker and writer. One day, John asked Willard what he could do to take his spiritual life to the next level. I imagine John was expecting an answer such as reading more of the Bible or praying in different ways. But after John asked Willard this question there was a pause (common of Willard), followed by this response: “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.” John wrote it down, and then asked his wise mentor what else. Willard answered: “There is nothing else.”

This is a profoundly simply truth to intellectually concur with. It is an incredibly difficult truth to live by.

I am personally a hurry-addict. I’m in recovery, but I’m still a hurry-addict. Because of this, I submit to you these thoughts not as someone who has it all figured out, but rather as one who has been addicted to hurry (still is in many ways) and found these four practical steps helpful in ruthlessly eliminating hurry from my life.

The four practical tips to combat hurry are:

1. Disconnect.

It is obvious that we live in a hyper-connected world. Much good has been brought about from this. But there are subtle side-affects to being constantly connected via our phones and the internet. Personally, I have found that due to having the world in my pocket (and the world having access to me), it is hard to be still and slow down. If I’m home and I place my phone in another room, I often feel the need to check it. But when I remove myself from my devices, and spend an evening eating dinner with my wife, followed by a card game (Dominion anyone?), followed by a glass of red wine by the fire, I feel more alive and human than I would constantly checking email and social media. Try starting with putting away your phone for one night a week. You will find that this is more of a gift than a discipline.

2. Sabbath.

This is a Judeo-Christian practice that I have been intentional about applying to my life over the past couple of years. It is an absolute gift. It has done wonders for my soul. By Sabbath, I mean one 24-hour period a week where you do no work at all (that includes running errands or doing homework). Set aside this day to do that which brings life, joy, and refreshment to your soul. This is a day for rest, celebration, and meditation. My wife and I have recently started a weekly Sabbath tradition of sleeping in, then making a delicious breakfast (coffee obviously included), and then, before we eat breakfast, we read a Psalm together. If you are in a life stage in which Sabbath seems impossible, try starting with a 4-hour Sabbath, then build up to a 24-hour Sabbath. We were not meant to constantly work. We have a built-in rhythm to our souls to work six days, and Sabbath one day. 

3. Walk slower.

I have had the reputation of being a fast walker. And honestly, I have been proud of that. In fact, I heard in a leadership podcast that leaders ought to walk fast. But have you ever slowed down your walking pace? What happens when we do this? We become more present to what is around us and what is going on within us. My challenge to you is this: Slow down your walking pace and pay attention to the beauty that is around you, and thoughts and dreams within you.

4. Hurry is a state of the heart.

This part is the hardest. It requires looking within and examining the motivation that causes hurry. For me hurry has been motivated by a need to do more, be more productive, and accomplish more. What is the motivation behind this need? It is a need to be admired and loved. My feelings of being lovable are connected with what I do. But what if this is not the way Jesus wants me to live my life? What if I lived my life from a place of knowing I am fully loved by Him? What if I lived my life as a result of a firm identity of being fully loved by Jesus rather than living my life as a result of trying to be loved by everyone else? Hurry would have no place in a life shaped by a heart knowing one is fully loved.

So, may you know at the deepest core of your being that you are fully loved. And this love is not a result of how busy, how productive, or how accomplished you are.

Therefore, may hurry have no place in your life. May hurry not tell you that you are not loved.

And may you “ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life” from a place of knowing how loved you are.


David Beavis

Eating lots of food and looking at pictures of puppies are couple of ingredients to David's perfect day. The driving passion of David's life is walking alongside people as they figure out what it means to follow Jesus today. David holds a B.A. in Psychology from Vanguard University and an M.A. in Theology from Talbot School of Theology. He currently works at Mariners Church in Irvine on the High School Ministry team. David lives in Costa Mesa, CA, with his amazing wife Laura.