The Power of Slowing Down

I like busy.

I don’t think I am a workaholic, I just like to have things going on. I function best with a fair amount of structure. I have an intense need to be productive in some way whether that be working, organizing and reorganizing the house, or learning from documentaries or TED talks.

I hate being sick, as I become stir-crazy within a matter of hours. Given the option I would generally prefer to be stressed by business than stressed by lack of activity. Between James and I we have had 6 jobs for the past year. We each work 2 part time jobs during the day plus asleep or partial asleep overnight jobs. This seemed pretty reasonable to me. It’s what I’m used to and feels like what is expected. Busyness is accepted, even applauded in our culture.

In December we had the opportunity to go to the UK for Christmas. James and I didn’t see one another for several days before we left because of our hectic schedules and there was not a night for 2 weeks leading up to leaving where we were both home overnight, due to our staggered overnight shifts. The first few days in the UK I was anxious about having 3 weeks without work, without constant structured busyness. But then I got to hang out with James and I remembered just how much I like that. I got to read a book. Got to spend time reading the Word and praying with James. Got to spend un-pressured time with people that I love. Had the headspace to serve those around me rather than just doing the bare minimum and falling asleep exhausted by 9:30. I remembered what it felt like to be truly rested. Our time in the UK prompted us to re-evaluate or lives. Helped us to recognize that our schedules were not healthy or life-giving. We decided James would quit one of his day-time jobs and I would put in my notice to my night job when we got home.

Pregnancy has had other plans for me. Instead of having a month to prepare for the transition I had a couple weeks. Bad joints + pregnancy = severe nerve pain. Two weeks before my night job and my coaching job were going to be finishing up I ended up off work completely for nearly a week with severe nerve pain in my back. For several days the only manageable position was lying on my side. I am not sure what was harder to deal with- the physical pain or the frustration of being so limited. Feeling so unproductive. Needing so much help. All in all it was about two weeks where the pain interfered significantly with my life. At only 24 weeks pregnant the thought of things not getting better terrified me.

Fortunately, things have leveled out over the past week. My pain is much more under control. I have to be careful and I am certainly not doing as much as I typically would but it feels manageable. James had his last shift at the coffee shop a couple weeks ago and I had my last overnight shift last week. My high school coaching position came to it’s end with the last competition of the season last weekend.

Now James is working nights and part-time days and I am working a couple days a week. Whilst the circumstances surrounding my slow-down have been frustrating (feeling forced to slow down before I was fully mentally prepared) we are seeing just how important space in life is. It has taken a while for us to get there but we are coming back to the place we were while in the UK.

The past couple weeks have been a breath of fresh air in many ways.

  • James and I have been able to spend more time together, which, beyond being enjoyable for us, has had a great impact on our relationship. This is particularly important with Little Zapfletts on the way!
  • We have been able to be a part of our church community and my family in a re-energized, life-giving way.
  • We have had time to be more intentional about relationships. We can prioritize people over work!
  • I have been able to spend time reading, playing board games, and just generally relaxing a
  • We have had time to cook real food (I am making our bread again, which I love.)

On the physical side I am learning that sometimes the things I feel are important to do aren’t actually that important. Dishes can sit for a few hours, dinner can be a bit late, it’s not the end of the world. I am also learning to be ok with needing more help and am able to appreciate James’ contribution to our family more.

We desire to live relationship-centered lives. The steps we are taking to create space in our lives is making sharing life with those around us possible. We are not so busy getting through life that we don’t have a chance to live life.

We are living and learning and doing our best to love well.

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