Hi, I’m Ashlee, and I’m an adrenaline addict. Not the adventure-seeking-bungee-jumping kind of addict, but the let’s-see-if-I-can-squeeze-in-one-more-thing kind of addict. I came to this realization about myself a little over a month ago when I felt my pulse quicken as I turned toward my bank, despite the fact that I had an appointment in 5 minutes and I was 3 minutes away. I wondered if I could get my errand done and still make it on time. I did, for the record.
That pulse-quickening, highly-efficient, no-margin-of-error kind of living is the lifestyle that I renounced last year, but this experience that day at the end of April brought home to me the fact that my high need for efficiency is pretty ingrained. Usually one would say that efficiency is great. However, I’ve recognized that for me, efficiency is actually reliance on myself, rather than on God. It’s also pride and hubris, as I act as if the normal boundaries for healthy people somehow don’t apply to me.
So I must confess my sins of self-dependence and pride and admit that even though I’m not hurting another person in my adrenaline-addictive ways, I’m also not living the sort of life when I can truly understand what the Psalmist means when he says, “Be still and know that I am God.”
In order to break my addictions, I’ve done three things, and I have to say, I’m feeling more and more freed from this nasty habit.
- I’m leaving five minutes earlier to get where I need to get. I have realized that I love the rush of wondering if I’m going to get somewhere on time. I don’t like to waste one minute of being “early,” preferring to be “right on time.” But usually that means I’m about 2 minutes late since I saw someone on the way across campus or got held up by a stoplight. I don’t like being disrespectful to people and being late is one of the common discourtesies, so I’m trying, I really am, to be a few minutes early. And I’m learning to enjoy sitting for a few minutes if I am early. Huh, whowouldathought?!
- Secondly, I’m growing a tomato plant. I’m only taking partial credit for thinking this up as a way of breaking out of my adrenaline addiction, as part of it actually goes to one of my students. I have a student who apparently has a burgeoning green thumb. He managed to convince a staff person here on campus to let him take over a lapsed garden and he tells me that he is growing quite a few veggies. He gave me a tomato plant in a planter so that I could make some fresh salsa later this summer and he continues to ask me how the plant is doing. I can’t tell him that I’ve let it die, so I water it. And I check on the little developing tomatoes and I do my best to will this little plant into abundance. I really have no ability to make this plant grow and that’s where I’ve seen that the plant is a long term investment of my time. Since my adrenaline-addictive habits like to see immediate success, this plant is exactly what I need to remind me of a sustained, steady, slow, progress that isn’t even guaranteed. My travels preventing me from watering it, the birds, or even a bad storm could completely demolish the potential of my summer salsa plans. But I water it anyway.
- Finally, my third (and most important) intervention to breaking the adrenaline habit is to linger longer in my morning (and afternoon, and evening) prayers. Instead of hurrying to get to work, I stay just a few more precious moments longer in studying scripture or praying. From the worldly perspective, I’m wasting time (and lots of it!), but from the spiritual perspective, I’m doing the most important work of the day. My head is clearer, my heart is more emboldened, and I’m far less inclined to be anxious about the things that I can’t control.
So, I suppose that I’m a recovering adrenaline addict, or on the road to it at least. I might just have to start investigating bungee jumping after all…