Going Backward in Order to Move Forward

uturn3Progress is not always made by pushing through—by going forward. Often, we will need and will actually desire to go backwards in order to be able to move forward. When we are always moving forward and always moving fast, we simply cannot keep up. The constant momentum to keep moving; keep improving even keep transforming is incredibly exhausting. We are tired mentally, emotionally, physically, sexually and all of these arenas live us feeling “spent” spiritually.There is a remedy to our dilemma of always feeling the need for the next thing; the next break through; the next big thing. It is this: go backwards. Sometimes, we need to go back to have the new found energy to go on.  I'm finding this even right now in writing this. I chose to go back and not forward by giving myself a 48 hour solo retreat. I needed time to think. I needed space to access the trajectory of my life. I needed time off to be back on--which I knew was going to happen anyway. So I chose to take this retreat in the midst of so many demands and meetings and needs. I walked away from my staff. I left projects needing my attention on the desks. I went away in order to come back better.Here are 5 areas to challenge you to move backwards in order to move forward in your life.

  1. Go backwards with technology. I have a friend who is ditching his iphone. It has become way too much for him. He has told me that his iphone is ruining his life. He finds himself always checking; always on and always available.  He lamented to me last week that "Texting has become THE primary way we communicate--sometimes even in our house"  There was no smile on his face when he shared this with me. He has made the heroic choice to go back to a flip-phone. It’s unthinkable isn’t it? To go back 20 years in technology is to go back to the dark ages—we think—we actually believe.   But the value of a flip phone is incredible progressive. It can give you your life back. You can’t text as much. You can’t always be on. You will not always be available. IT may be the step backwards to help you move forward.  Choose one day a week that you literally unplug! Take a sabbath from all wired gadgets. Lift your head up and live untethered for just one day a week and see what can happen.  Most of us can simply confess this one thing: we are way too tied down by our wired world--even despite the benfits.....If you can't go back to a flip phone--try fasting from technology for one day. Go back to go forward.
  1. Get Quiet—not Get Loud. We live in a noisy world and the noise outwardly and inwardly is making life absurd. Did you know that the Latin word for “deafness” is rooted in the word meaning ‘absurdity’? When we can’t listen--- so much of life and relationships—even our faith can feel absurd. One mega church I work with adopted a series for their entire congregation titled, “Get Loud!” It was a way of inviting their congregation to get loud; get big and involved; perhaps do great things for God. But where is the sermon series or emphasis on “Let’s get quiet?” While writing this, I am on a private retreat. I am doing a solo retreat of 48 hours of quiet. Yesterday as I took a long hike in the Rocky Mountains, I was disturbed by the constant buzzing of helicopters circling around. Their loud and buzzing rotating blades invaded my much sought after tranquility of mountain streams and eagles flying nearby. I was annoyed. Loud things can annoy us and the only remedy there is to notice is quiet. Quietness is the great antidote to our stress. As the buzzing of the choppers keep disturbing me on my hike, I used that outer noise to help me assuage my inner noise which we’re saying, “You could be so much more productive if you were back at the office actually doing something!” That is a voice that needs to be suspect. That is a voice I need to shun. That is a voice that does not bring me life.
  1. Do Less not more. No book has affected me more this past year than the book by Greg McKeown titled, “Essentialism.”  I have thoroughly enjoyed and been challenged to align my life and work with what is essential; what I find to be absolutely essential in life. Putting meetings, people and invitations to help into a grid which asks me this one question: Is this really necessary and will it help me stay in the pursuit of less—not more. Am I investing in the right/essential activities? How can I live focused and not so distracted by all the chances; all the ways; all the people? When we feel too stretched; too much like we are skating on thin ice, we need to check the trajectory of our lives and see if where we are headed is actually where we want to go.
  2. Reflect more and react less. By learning to practice the lost art of reflection, we can have the time to think our own thoughts; feel our own feelings and find our own center of our own soul. Thus we can live our own lives—not live the life designed by someone else—someone who may not actually have the best intentions for my life. In this age of constant availability and constant news, we are over-saturated; over-stimulated and over-committed. We are robbed from the simple times of a stroll; a lingering conversation and following the thread of our own thoughts and feelings to find out our own passions and feelings. We simply must have time to reflect. Reflection is the great art of being human. My dog Laz cannot reflect. The humming birds busy buzzing around at the feeder cannot reflect. Only humans can reflect—and to be human; to remain human and to live a fully non-machine like life, we will need to go back and learn the great art of reflection.  As we learn to reflect, we will find ourselves less prone to react; less ready to fly off the handle and tap into our reserves of anger and rage that always seem so ready at our disposal. Walk away when the tension gets heated. Take a time out.  Sit with what just happened....that email that just came in that triggered you into writing back a angry email in response.
  3. Go slow—not fast. Slowing our lives down is the antidote to our time sickness. One year gets blurred with the next and the last. Birthdays come so quickly. Everything good in life is not fast. By slowing—by actually practicing slowing, we can savor the richness of the wine of our lives. We can lift up the chalice of our lives and toast---and celebrate—and enjoy the goodness of life—even in an age of terror and violence.  Time-sickness has greatly contributed to the constant state of exhaustion that so very many of us experience. The antidote is slow. When someone has burned out, the only remedy is dis-engagement.

 As you consider going backwards, take a look at my list and add your own areas and suggestions and possibilities and let’s encourage each other to go backwards in order to move forward.  Go ahead, leave your comments! Let's get a good discussion going! 

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Leah's Unplug Story

Have you joined our Unplug Challenge yet?  We challenge you to commit one day a week to set aside the distraction of technology.  You won’t be disappointed in your commitment.  We have a inspiring testimony to share with you from a friend Leah who lives overseas…Unplug image "I live overseas and have a million reasons to live on my phone. I am in a long distance relationship, my friends live in ten different countries and my family sends updates via text, not carrier pigeon. My phone is often my shield from my loneliness. If I feel isolated or forgotten I can pick it up, send a text and reenergize my extrovert streak that often feels neglected in a foreign land. "I am also a member of the media and spend at least 40 hours a week monitoring and writing stories on screens. I get paid to follow tweets, watch competitors’ broadcasts and check Facebook. When I get home I feel drowned in pixelated light and just want to chat and tell someone about my day. Remember when I told you I was in a long distance relationship? I.e. I get back on a screen.  For years I have picked a day to isolate myself from social media, but since moving abroad I have struggled to keep a routine. When I do un-plug, I often feel like I’m falling behind on work emails or worse, missing vital details in the lives of those I love ‘back home’. Other times I am so overwhelmed by screens, I randomly and totally disengage. As healthy as it feels and is, it also hurts those I didn’t warn. The most vital element of unplugging for me is telling my friends and family in advance that I will temporarily be out of touch. The tricky part is actually sticking to my word and keeping the phone out of reach. Without my device, I am able to better recognize my reality and address areas of my soul that usually go unchecked. Why do I feel lonely? Why do I feel more engaged with technology than I do with people? Why am I having a hard time focusing on finishing simple tasks without distractions? I start to realize my dependencies and my phone starts to sound a lot like a drug. I start sounding like an addict. In the absence of social media and my electronic buddy, I become better friends with those who live around me that I often overlook. My time is filled with soulful engagement and my eyes readjust to seeing pupils, not pixels. Though it’s crucial to stay connected to ‘home’ I need to remain diligent in digging deeper into building one here, too."- Leah Ready to Unplug?  Read more about the challenge HERE.  Print the commitment card and choose one day a week to unplug from technology.  We'd love to hear your story.  Share it below! 

Katie's Unplug Story

UnPLUG---it's the Potter's Inn Challenge! Most of us are way too wired. We're always "on" and "available." We're excited as our challenge beings to spread across the world and we're hearing from people and what they are doing with their Unplug Challenge! Meet Katie. She shares her story of learning to Unplug below...


I am someone who is way too attached to my device.  I am a stay at home mom and a lot of times sadly my “escape” from my reality of dirty diapers and constant cleaning is to veg out on my phone.  I'll go to the world of Facebook, Instagram, or You Tube to watch others live their lives and to try and receive some type of validation for my life too.  Since toddler conversation can be limited I would practice this “escape” while sitting down to breakfast or lunch, riding in the car while my husband drives, always feeling like I needed to be “caught up” on the latest that social media had to offer.

I’ve always wanted to let go of this addiction because as much as I continue to practice these habits I know they are life sucking rather than life giving.  I was so very glad to see the Potters Inn Unplug Challenge!  It’s helped push that desire in me to actually give up this habit for a day and I’m hoping to give it up entirely!I chose Sunday as my day to unplug and what a GIFT it has already been for me!  I still kept my phone on me, but did not pull it out during our drive to church to catch up on Facebook, didn’t pull it out on the drive home from church to post a cute picture, didn’t pull it out during lunch to look at someone else’s cute picture, and best of all I didn’t pull it out when my kids went down for their nap.  Instead I pulled out an encouraging magazine and read this line “We don’t see better by straining our eyes.  We see better by centering our souls.” (Leeana Tankersley)  And I was doing just that!Taking the Unplug Challenge gave me the chance to be more present with my kids, my husband, and in the moment.  I was looking up instead of looking down, centering my soul rather than straining my eyes over my device.  Now I know that I will look forward to Sundays because they will be my life giving day!-Katie from Washington DCReady to join the Unplug Challenge?  Read more HERE.  Print the commitment card and choose one day a week to unplug from technology.  We'd love to hear your story.  Share it below!