The demanding moments in life can crowd out more important priorities that ultimately are of greater consequence. When we are in a constant state of emergency we can find it difficult to step back and make thoughtful decisions.
Urgency was the culture of the company in which Deb worked. She was very task oriented and reacted to the demands of others. The phone calls, emails, text messages, and people arriving at her door with pressing concerns consumed her time. Long-range planning, strategic thinking, writing projects, and reflection were all relegated to the back burner.
Deb moved from task to task trying to multitask by answering the phone and emailing at the same time. She found that she was not able to concentrate on any subject for very long. She rarely gave anything her full attention. Everyone around her soon learned if they couldn’t summarize something into three bullet points or less she was not likely to absorb it. Unfortunately, not every issue can be summarized into bullet points, especially, when it comes to the personal issues with family, friends, and coworkers.
She did not realize people were seeing her as rushed and unavailable. She was feeling alone and isolated not able to truly connect with those she loved. Her life was mapping right on to Jeremiah 17:5-6). “…cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord. He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land.” She felt like she was isolated in the desert of the constant demands. Something had to change.
She decided to start to journal about her relationships. She took 30 minutes in the morning to write. She wrote about things at work and in her personal life. As she started to write and reflect she started to feel more like a human being and less like a work machine. Deb then made a list of all she needed to do that day. She soon realized that the demands in her life exceeded her ability to keep up with it all. No wonder she couldn’t focus and felt like a machine.
Deb now took a few minutes each day to prioritize her list and think through how she wanted to handle the challenges. It was difficult for her to stick to a planned schedule; she feared that she would disappoint people. What she discovered over time, as she added prayer and study of Scripture to her morning journaling routine, she had a greater sense of calmness and focus. The reality was that she had been trusting in herself and not God. She wanted to do everything in her own self-sufficiency. God’s Word spoke to her heart. “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit,” (Jeremiah 17:7-8).
Over the months, as her morning routine became a habit, she committed to change how she managed her priorities at work. She was used to getting to work and starting with email, returning phone calls, and reacting to staff as they came to her door. Since Deb is most productive in the morning she decided to dedicate the first hour in the office to the most important projects. This enabled her to approach the rest of the day with a sense of accomplishment and energy.
To insure some intermittent recovery she decided to take a couple of ten or fifteen breaks during her day. This enabled her to step away and regroup from the pressure of the day. It was hard for Deb to restrain from responding to people’s requests instantly, but as time went on she found herself becoming more focused and productive. She also became much more relaxed, with energy to listen to the people around her, and start to enjoy taking time to hear their concerns.
She learned that “The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe,” (Proverbs 29:25). Deb discovered she had been a living example of Jeremiah 17:5-8 living like a shrub in the desert. She decided she was going to become the blessed tree planted by water putting her trust in the Lord.