When It’s Time to Walk Away

I knew it was time to leave, time to walk away. I heard Him over and over again telling me to stop. I ignored, forged ahead, convincing myself that this season would pass, as they all do. And then one day, I just couldn’t keep up any longer. It was time to walk away from the treadmill of to-do lists and piles of work and living densely and trying to live on four hours of sleep for months on end.

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I was living my days in over-stretched 24 hours. None of the things filling these 24 hours were independently negative. In fact, my “24” included teaching, church, ministry, family, and a few hours of sleep each night. The missing piece in my life: consistent downtime. Intentional time for taking care of myself physically and mentally which, in turn, would edify my spiritual life.  I had traded my Sabbath for schedule.

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This note was scribbled in my journal that I keep in my purse. Just six weeks into the new year and already I was falling into a whirlwind of overwhelm.

My heart was weary from this racing life. Not only figuratively but literally. In April there were episodes when I woke around 3a with a start as I could feel my heart beating wildly. I laid in the dark, keeping a close eye on my Fitbit, watching the heartbeat readout jump from my resting 60 to 104 in a matter of seconds. I could hear the rapid pounding against my chest. On several different nights I awoke to this out of control heartbeat. My heart was tired.

Brain function: I am naturally a wee bit forgetful (I blame this on 35 years of taking medicine for epilepsy….let’s just go with that!) but in this time of hurried living I had become downright scary-forgetful! I remember one afternoon my daughter asked me to read a joke on her phone. I wasn’t able to do it. I played it off, laughed at the appropriate time. But the letters seemed to run together and my brain couldn’t separate words quickly. Inside I semi-panicked, wondering what in the world was happening.

And then there’s the whole exercise and eating thing. Eating was my comfort (no judgement, y’all!) Subconsciously, and sadly, I saw eating as a time of rest, as my down time. I would eat in the car to and from school but rarely at school. (Too busy working to eat!) I would grab something carb-heavy and processed at a drive-thru then come home, park at the kitchen table with my laptop, and have supper while reading for a weekly Bible study or working on something for school. I just ate and worked and gravitated to this imitation form of relaxing. Consequently, I started eating larger quantities. More food meant more relaxation. *sigh* Oh, what a train wreck I had become.

How many times have we found ourselves in this place, knowing we need to step back to make time for a schedule detox and a shift in priorities? Honoring a day of rest, a Sabbath, each week is what we are commanded to do as Christians. Whether your Sabbath is on a Sunday or a Tuesday matters not to Him. What does matter to Him is that we are intentional to not overload, to not take on too much, and to not allow our life to become stuffed. This weary living interrupts our spiritual growth. The enemy sits back watching and waiting, ready to pounce when we lose our footing as we stumble over all the demands of living. In Psalm 19:14 David calls out to God, that He will find the words of David’s mouth and the meditation of his heart to be pleasing in His sight. Perhaps we would be wise to heed David’s reference to meditation or stillness.

As I write this entry, I have made step one toward my new way of intentional, simple living. Step one: recognize that I have a problem. Its time for me to make some life changing shifts. Our God is a mighty God and a God worthy of our Sabbath time. I will not forfeit one more day of my life. I bid farewell to my crazed, jumbled, smoldering life of chaos and welcome the less-is-more life He has been calling me to for far too long. Less commitment, less unhealthy choices that have wrecked me physically, less piles of work, and a less maddening schedule.  Farewell whirlwind and hello calm!

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This article originally appeared at WindyJStarnes.com.


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Windy Starnes
Windy James Starnes is wife to Don, mom to Allison & Dylan, and has been a Kindergarten teacher to scads of children through the years. She's a lover of Jesus, authenticity, dogs, and sweet tea. A sinner and a stumbler, she's basking in God's sweet grace every day. After living for years and years in a storm of self-doubt and negative choices, she finally found peace and freedom through accepting God's grace. Oh happy day! You can find her writing at WindyJStarnes.com.