Half a century ago, an upholsterer from San Francisco made a curious discovery. He was called to a cardiologist’s office to reupholster some chairs in the waiting room. When he looked at the furniture, he wondered immediately what was wrong with the patients. Only the front edge of the seats and the first few inches of the armrests were worn out. “People don’t wear out chairs this way,” he said. Five years later, in 1959, Drs. Meyer Friedman and Ray Rosenman began to put the pieces together. They had noticed an odd pattern shared by many of their cardiac patients, a pattern that centered on a “chronic sense of time urgency.” Patients showed irritability at being made to wait in line, had difficulty relaxing, and were anxious over delays. Obsessed with not wasting a moment, they spoke quickly, interrupted often, hurried those around them, and were forever rushing. Hence the waiting room chairs: the patients sat on the edge of their seats, nervously fidgeting at the arms of the chairs as they watched time tick by. So the doctors coined the term ‘hurry sickness’ to describe what happens when people become obsessive over rushing through the routines of life.
Bill Hybels points out that people often act as if over-scheduling is something about which they have no choice. “It’s not my fault. It’s my boss’s fault. It’s my family’s fault. It’s my teammate’s fault.” They really believe they are victims of the commitments they said yes to. But the reality is that you are the architect of your schedule. You are the boss of your schedule. No one else is responsible for your calendar. And as Hybels suggests, if you want to simplify your life, you have to take control. You have to learn to say no. You have to ask God to show you His will for your moments and days and years. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you a sense of God’s timing—so that you don’t surrender to the pressures of daily routines or people-pleasing or keeping a busy schedule so you can try to impress others. Ask yourself, “How does God want me to spend my time today?” “If I do today only those things that God wants me to do, what will my itinerary look like?
God doesn’t want you to live a life that is hurried and harried! He wants you to find a rhythm of advance and retreat, of working for the kingdom and finding Sabbaths that allow you to rest. My prayer is that God will help you navigate the turbulence of a too-busy culture, and that you’ll find rest for your soul (Matthew 11:38-30).